Polen Comments on SKSD Board Race Results

Incumbent South Kitsap School District board member Naomi Polen, who was appointed to fill an unexpired term in 2008, has been edged out by former board member Chris Lemke. Polen has served on the board for 18 months. Lemke was among those who asked to be considered for the appointment.

Lemke had earned 60.24 percent of the vote in unofficial results Tuesday. Polen took 38.67 percent. A total of 11,403 votes had been counted.

On Wednesday, Polen said she was “disappointed.”
“I really enjoyed the time I was working with the board,” she said. “I was really looking forward to seeing some of the projects through.”

Specifically, Polen has been a strong advocate of policy governance, an operational model under which school board members would set out broad policies and goals, then give the superintendent wide authority to meet the goals.

The district is taking a year to draw up goals for policy governance with input from district staff and community members. Polen said she’ll stay involved in the monthly “Call to Action” meetings that are open to the public. She expressed confidence in Lemke’s ability to pick up the baton and keep the momentum going.

“Once Chris gets on board, I’m sure he’ll see the importance of it and get involved,” she said.

Lemke has said he sees advantages to policy governance and is comfortable with the concept as long as the board retains oversight of the superintendent through regular reviews.

Polen said the board will need to remain attentive to the “constant battle” of promoting community involvement on decisions and actions that affect the district.

She also plans to stay involved in the district’s “Whole Child” initiative to hook students and their families up with community resources outside the classroom. The district has a link to resources available through volunteers and other groups on its Web site. Aspects within the Whole Child program include mentoring — Polen mentors a seventh grader — food through Backpacks for Kids, medical needs and more.

“I’ll stay active,” Polen said. “I’ll just keep my ear close to what the board’s doing. I’m grateful for the time I had. Apparently God had a different plan for me.”

10 thoughts on “Polen Comments on SKSD Board Race Results

  1. The policy governance should be interesting. It almost reads like the board is sitting back leaving the school district to the superintendent. Maybe it would be better for the voter and taxpayer to just let the school district hire a manager and get rid of the school board. I think the policy governance policy will lead to less input by the taxpayers and will lead to a feeling the school district is ignoring the taxpayer and voter. Yes, I have read about policy governance and how it works. I just do not think it will be effective in South Kitsap nor will it be helpful, except to remove dissent and disagreement. It is not like we elect the school board or any other elected official to be a clone copy of each other.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  2. Roger,

    Do you really think that I would tolerate the role of school board members being marginalized by policy governance? Come on. You know better than that. 😉

    I am actually very pleased with how SKSD is moving towards policy governance. I believe it will give us greater power and influence towards our responsibilities than ever before. It will allow us to set clear direction for the Superintendent to move towards, clear goals upon which progress will be measured, and clear expectations for the district and the superintendent.

    Would be very interested to speak to you about this. I will be at Marcus Whitman on November 17th (will get the time) and would love to take your questions and have some dialog with you about this.

    Right now, though. I am late for a team dinner. And am hungry!!

    Kathryn Simpson

  3. Well Kathryn. I am more than happy to step back and let South Kitsap be the local guinea pig on this one. I also trust in you more than any other sitting school board official in Kitsap to call a halt for it or reverse it, if it does not in fact accomplish what it is set out to do or if it in fact instead negatively impacts the district or the communities ability to speak, get information or participate as a full partner in the education process.

    For now I will hold firm to my NIMBY position here in Bremerton.

  4. Colleen,

    Thanks for the kind words and confidence. South Kitsap is very fortunate to have five board members who, while politically diverse, have strong common consensus on the priorities of student achievement, family involvement, and accountability to the community.

    Nearly as important as our shared priorities, my fellow board members conduct themselves as respectful, professional adults who know how to make their point, advance their priorities without being offensive, and build consensus.

    Kathryn Simpson

  5. Kathryn, Now you (SK) are just showing off (smile). With what is looking to be (3) new incoming School Board Directors for Bremerton, I am hoping we can move forward as a district and community and reach a similar level of operational paradise when it comes to education.

  6. Colleen,

    New blood is a good thing. I hope that each of those new directors will seize the opportunity to learn all they can, listen intently to diverse points of view, and always keep their paramount priorities at the frontline of every decision.

    Encourage them to be visionaries. Setting the destination and collaboratively building the road to it is possible. Hard work? Yup. Frustrating at times as you have to cross mountains? Yup. But worth it!!

    Kathryn Simpson

  7. Oh, and if any of them would like to call me for whatever insight I can provide, feel free to give them my cell phone number. I hope they are all going to WSSDA Conference next week. They will learn a lot there and get an intense first look at their challenges and opportunities.

    Kathryn Simpson

  8. Kathryn, Can they attend the conference even though they have not officially been sworn into their positions yet?

    Thanks! And I will pass your number on to them.


  9. Most school boards approve a resolution allowing for newly elected school board members to attend the conference prior to being seated, since it is so beneficial to them.

    Kathryn Simpson

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