Tag Archives: South Kitsap School District

Sheriff’s Office Investigating Threats at Sedgwick JHS

Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies are investigating a threatening note found Tuesday evening on a piece of toilet paper in a bathroom at John Sedgwick Junior High School.

The note threatened specific students and said Thursday was when the threats would be carried out, Kitsap County Sheriff’s spokesman Scott Wilson said.

Deputies bolstered patrols in and around the school Thursday morning. There have been no incidents, Wilson said.

Read more: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/mar/04/kitsap-sheriffs-office-investigating-threats-stude/#ixzz0hFXGUFja

On Tuesday Five Chances to Speak Your Mind to the SK School Board

By Chris Henry
Members of the South Kitsap School District “Call to Action” Task Force have been meeting over the past year to establish goals and plans for the district in anticipation of a shift in fall 2010 to policy governance. It’s an organizational model that uses “ends” or goals to drive “means” or actions. Under policy governance, the superintendent assumes more responsibility for day-to-day decisions, while the school board focuses more on policy.
On Tuesday, members of the board will meet with the public at five separate locations to seek opinions on the direction the district should go. Meetings will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at John Sedgwick Junior High School, 8995 SE Sedgwick Road; Marcus Whitman Junior High School, 1887 Madrona Drive; Cedar Heights Junior High School, 2220 Pottery Ave.; Sunnyslope Elementary School, 4183 Sunnyslope Road SW; and Olalla Elementary School, 6100 SE Denny Boond Blvd.
Another series of public meetings is set for Dec. 16; locations to be announced.
For more information, contact Aimee Warthen at (360) 874-7002, or visit http://www.skitsap.wednet.edu.

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.”

Did SKSD Voters Boycott Pointless Primary?

As noted in today’s Kitsap Sun editorial, voter turnout throughout Kitsap County in Tuesday’s primary was a “deplorable” 22 percent. Kitsap County elections manager Dolores Gilmore said the turnout was comparable to off-year elections in the early 1990s, before all-mail balloting.

Voter turnout in South Kitsap was even lower, but was it apathy or something else? With 39,199 registered voters eligible to vote in the South Kitsap School District race for the district 3 position, only 5,385 ballots were counted as of the close of business at the auditor’s office on election day. That’s up to 6,023 today, still a scanty 15 percent.

Is it possible South Kitsap voters were boycotting what amounted to a straw poll? Current unofficial results show incumbent Naomi Polen, with 31.73 percent of the vote, trailing challenger Chris Lemke, a former board member, with 45.03 percent. A second challenger, Gail F. Porter, is ineligible to serve because she moved out of the director district after filing. According to the Kitsap County auditor’s office, the deadline to withdraw had passed by the time Porter made the move known. Porter’s name, therefore, appeared on the ballot, and she received 19.06 percent of the vote. Now, there’s nearly 20 percent of the 39,199 who are either in denial or not in tune with local media. As the editorial notes, we ran a story on the issue.

The hey of it is, the primary, results of which carry no weight, will cost South Kitsap School District an estimated $70,000. Before the election, I checked with Dolores Gilmore to see if the district would save any money if people did in fact boycott the primary. Dolores said no; most of the cost associated with the primary is incurred in preparation and distribution of ballots.

Based on turnout numbers in the South Kitsap race, however, one might guess some people made that assumption and shredded their ballots. Either that or SKSD voters are in a complacent slump.

There’s been considerable discussion on the blog entry post posted the day of the primary about Porter’s ineligibility and its implications for South Kitsap School District. I’ll respond to a few points made.

Bob Meadows pointed out that there are essentially two deadlines for withdrawal from a race. The candidate can withdraw up to the Thursday following filing week without having to give any reason. Secondly, the candidate can withdraw beyond that date at the election official’s (auditor’s office) discretion up to the day the ballots are ordered. I checked with Dolores Gilmore. The ballots were ordered June 15. According to Gilmore, she did not learn of Porter’s ineligibility to serve until Aug. June 18, when Porter came in to change her voter registration address.

School Board member Kathryn Simpson (in comments on the previous blog post and elsewhere) has given a different accounting of who knew what, when. I invited Dolores to respond to Kathryn’s statements, and Dolores declined, saying it was the formal position of the auditor’s office not to engage in discussion on the blog regarding this issue. In short, she had no comment. South Kitsap School District is pursuing legal advice on whether there is any way to mitigate the amount is has to pay for the primary. Stay tuned.

Finally, Bob Meadows notes that Porter would be eligible to serve if, hypothetically, she were to move back into district 3. Bob suggested that the nearly 20 percent of voters who favored Porter may have been encouraging her to do so. Porter would be eligible to serve under those hypothetical circumstances if she were still in the race. But that’s a moot point now, because she still got the fewest votes in the primary.

South Kitsap’s situation is a cautionary tale for both school districts – who are liable to incur the cost of elections even in the rare instances like this when they turn into straw polls – and candidates – who set in motion the wheels of elections law when they file for office.

Let it be said here that school board candidates probably aren’t in it for the money. SKSD board policy based on state law allows board members a stipend of $50 per meeting, but, according to district spokeswoman Aimee Warthen, not all claim compensation. They are paid for travel expenses to conferences (not in glamorous locales – unless you consider Spokane glamorous). The position requires hours of reading dry materials laden with edu-speak and sitting through meetings that are typically well attended (or attended at all) only when constituents are angry about something.

Given the above, the district ostensibly should be grateful for anyone willing to run. Regardless, potential candidates should be fully informed of the responsibility of the position and the financial implications to the district.

For the record, I became aware on July 1 that Porter had moved out of district 3 and did not act on it until late in July (my story ran July 28). Technically, acting on the information sooner would not have made any difference because the deadline had already passed. But it’s been a cautionary tale for me. And believe me, if a similar situation arises in the future, I won’t put it on the back burner.

SKSD Board: Ineligible Candidate Gets Nearly 20 Percent of Vote

Former Board Member Giving SKSD Incumbent a Run for Her Money

Third candidate who was disqualified earned nearly 20 percent of the vote.
By Chris Henry
Incumbent Naomi Polen was lagging behind challenger Chris Lemke in what amounted to a straw poll on the race for South Kitsap School District Board of Directors, district 3.
Polen earned 31.36 percent of the vote to Lemke’s 44.92 percent in Tuesday’s primary election. Both, being the two top vote getters, move on to the November election.
A third candidate, Gail F. Porter, was deemed ineligible to serve, since she moved out of district after filing for office. Even so, she earned 19.65 percent of the total 5,385 votes cast.
Write ins totaled 219 votes or 4.07 percent of the total.
Porter notified the Kitsap County Auditor’s office of the move on June 18, after the June 11 deadline to withdraw. Ballots were already being processed, so Porter’s name appeared among the contenders.
Although the result the the primary was a given, Lemke, a former SKSD board member, was guardedly optimistic at the margin by which he was ahead. He chalked it up to “local grassroots networking.”
“I’m thankful for the numbers,” he said. “It’’ll be a worthy opponent and a great election in November. I’m looking forward to it.”
Polen was appointed to the board last spring when then-District 3 representative Chuck Mayhew moved. Lemke, who served on the board from 2001 through 2005, was among those who had asked to be considered for appointment to Mayhew’s position.
Polen, who has so far run a fairly low-key campaign, said she anticipates working harder to publicize herself between now and the November election.
“I guess I will start putting signs out, which I didn’t want to do,” she said. “I felt I was getting out there, but obviously the numbers say I’m not.
Lemke, who did not give his age, is a retired Department of Defense manager who has held numerous volunteer positions in South Kitsap, most related to education. His four daughters attended South Kitsap schools.
Polen, 45, who helps run her husband’s construction business, also has served in multiple district and community volunteer positions. Her four children have attended South Kitsap schools.
South Kitsap School District may formally contest the estimated $70,000 it will owe for the cost of the primary.
“We have sought legal council to see if there’s any way to mitigate the cost, but we’re not interested in having a fight with the county,” said district spokeswoman Aimee Warthen.
Kitsap County elections manager Dolores Gilmore in July said much of the cost of the election is incurred through printing and distributing ballots. The law does not make provisions for districts in cases like this, she said.
Any action taken by the district will depend on advice from its attorneys, which is pending, Warthen said.

South Kitsap School District: An Unfortunate Series of Events

South Kitsap School District will pay an estimated $70,000 for the Aug. 18 primary election, even though one of the candidates in the three-way race for school board is ineligible.
Gail F. Porter moved out of district 3 after filing to run against incumbent Naomi Polen and former school board member Chris Lemke. By the time she informed the Kitsap County auditor’s office of her new address, the June 11 deadline to withdraw from the race had passed.
Porter said she knew she was moving at the time she filed but was unaware that her new home would be outside district 3 boundaries. Porter said her new home is not far from her old residence, so it didn’t occur to her that she would be ineligible. When she realized she had moved out of district, she asked to withdraw but was told she could not, she said.
According to Kitsap County elections manager Dolores Gilmore, candidates are not allowed to withdraw after June 11 because ballots must be printed early enough to allow for timely distribution prior to the primary, Gilmore said.

And as luck (or lack thereof) would have it, South Kitsap will bear a large portion of the total cost of the primary election, even though it is sharing the cost with other Kitsap jurisdictions, said Gilmore, who estimates the total cost of the primary at about $290,000.
South Kitsap, with 39,199 registered voters out of 119,000 total in this election, is one of the largest jurisdictions besides Central Kitsap School District, so it bears a proportionate part of the cost.
Furthermore, South Kitsap voters will only be voting on one race, unlike Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge residents, who will vote for both school board members and city council members. Those cities and school districts will share the cost of the elections within their respective boundaries where they overlap.
Porter, an Army veteran, said she would never have filed had she known what she knows now. “I totally get it,” she said. “You’ve got rules you’ve got to follow.

School Board President Patty Henderson said the district can ill afford  the $70,000 for a redundant election. “I’m sure all this (state laws) was put in place for good reason,” she said. “But unfortunately, there are unintended scenarios.”

Porter’s name will be on the primary, but not the general election ballot. If, by some chance, Porter were to win the general election, state law says the board (presumably with Polen stepping down if she were still in the race) would appoint to the position.

And for anyone keeping track, Henderson herself moved out of the district to which she was originally elected. Under state law, she was able to serve out the remainder of her term. Henderson, now into the third year of her second term, ran again and won in the district to which she had moved.

The difference between Henderson’s situation and Porter’s is that Henderson already held the office (see RCW’s below). If you’re curious, you can see all the board policies and the laws to which they relate by going to the school district’s Web site and looking under “Our District,” then “School Board,” then “Board Policies.”


Notwithstanding RCW 42.12.010(4), a school director elected from a director district may continue to serve as a director from the district even though the director no longer resides in the director district, but continues to reside in the school district, under the following conditions:

(1) If, as a result of redrawing the director district boundaries, the director no longer resides in the director district, the director shall retain his or her position for the remainder of his or her term of office; and

(2) If, as a result of the director changing his or her place of residence the director no longer resides in the director district, the director shall retain his or her position until a successor is elected and assumes office as follows: (a) If the change in residency occurs after the opening of the regular filing period provided under *RCW 29.15.020, in the year two years after the director was elected to office, the director shall remain in office for the remainder of his or her term of office; or (b) if the change in residency occurs prior to the opening of the regular filing period provided under *RCW 29.15.020, in the year two years after the director was elected to office, the director shall remain in office until a successor assumes office who has been elected to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of office at the school district general election held in that year.

SKSD Board Member Explains “Reprogramming” Levy Funds

Got a comment today from reader Ed Sampson about the story I wrote on South Kitsap School District’s budget.

The paragraph he cited was :

“Around 18 percent would come earmarked for “public safety and other government uses” and could be used for construction and renovation projects, such as the replacement of the Orchard Heights Elementary roof.

District officials had planned to pay for the $1.4 million roof project with a levy South Kitsap voters approved Feb. 3. Stimulus money would allow those funds to be used elsewhere.”

Ed said:

As a concerned citizen, I am at the end of my rope of any agency, be it schools, etc. of seeking funds voted by the public for at stated reason and then the funds are diverted “elsewhere” for other uses.  I voted for these funds to be used for a given purpose according to the information provided to us when we voted for/against the school levy in the election.  The funds being approved need to be used ONLY for that purpose.  If they are used elsewhere, that boarders on illegal and un-ethical.  If the funds are to be used elsewhere outside of the information supplied at the time of voting, then that action needs to be first voted for/against by the public and the levy for the school money needs to be adjusted accordingly.  It is time for the public to take back control of our all our government representatives be it at the Federal, State or Local levels.  Accountability is badly needed at all government levels.

I do hope to see in the future where our local level officials will also go to the Federal Recovery Stimulus web site to add in where they spent their Stimulus funds.  We might even be able to see where they “diverted” some of the school levy funds to another “project”.  But I will not hold my breath on that one.

Ed Sampson

I summarized Ed’s comments for school board member Kathryn Simpson and asked if she could respond to his thoughts. I picked on her because of her history of willingness to publicly jump into the fray where debates over district issues are in question. Kathryn, speaking as an individual and not representing the board, said:

Hi Chris,

Reprogramming (moving from one pot to another) of approved levy funds do not require a vote of the board. However, since the district’s budget is approved by the board, any change in revenue and expenditure would be approved by the board and the board expects to be informed and involved in such fiduciary decisions. This has been past practice and I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t be continuing practice.

As you know, SKSD formalized the levy plan in October.  This was well before the “stimulus package” conceptual ideology was even remotely coming into focus. Further, education funds were amongst those being hotly debated at the tail end of formalizing the final package.  Finally, the end product of these federal debates, now known as the “American Recover and Reinvestment Act” (ARRA) didn’t become law until after the February levy vote.

In fact, we won’t even be clear on what upside fiscal impact ARRA might (stressing the ‘might’) have.  From what I can see, it may prove to be little more than a backfill of funding that will be taken away by the State of Washington due to the potential $10 Billion dollar deficit the State is now facing.  Much discretion is being given to the States to decide whether the stimulus funds will raise funding levels (temporarily) or simply facilitate funding levels to remain somewhat constant because of the battering many state economies are facing (including Washington State) and the resultant cutbacks they may be making to education budgets.

I hope that helps adequately addresses the question and concern.  My comments, of course, of those of one member of the board.  I would strongly encourage anyone with questions and concerns to come to a board meeting and express their concerns to the board so that the entire board can respond and be better informed about constituent concerns.

Regards of the NW,
Kathryn Simpson

Party Time in South Kitsap

South Kitsap Schools Supporters, school district officials and community members gathered at The Clubhouse at McCormick Woods to await levy results. The before and after pictures below pretty much reflect reaction of the crowd of 150 + to the news that the levy passed with 56.7 percent voter approval in preliminary results Tuesday. Never mind that the measure would have failed had Washington voters not approved a simple majority for school levies in 2007 to replace the 60 “supermajority” previously required. Shawn Cucciardi, chairman of the School Supporters, said the handy margin represents a “cuture shift” in South Kitsap, which experienced multiple levy failures in the 1990s and failed to pass a bond in 2007. This is the first time since records began to be kept in 1973 that SKSD has had 12 years of stable levy funding (will be 12 years as of 2013).

The event, featuring music by the local rock ‘n roll band The Spenders, was not paid for on the taxpayers’ nickel, Cucciardi said. Community members pooled money to cover light hors d’oeuvres. Cucciardi donated the space. There was a no-host bar. And the band played for free … they weren’t bad either.

BEFORE (District representative Aimee Warthen and school board member Patty Henderson)

SKSD Levy Results Before
SKSD Levy Results Before

AFTER (Patty Henderson and Aimee Warthen. In Background board member Keith Garton and supporter Retha Civilla
SKSD Levy Results After
SKSD Levy Results After

Rally Planned Thursday for Cedar Heights Dance Team

Students on the Cedar Heights Junior High School dance team got a major workout as they practiced their hip hop routine Tuesday. You can see a video of the team’s dance tomorrow at kitsapsun.com.

The pressure is on, as the team prepares to compete in the National Dance Team Championships Saturday and Sunday in Orlando, Florida. This is the fifth year Cedar Heights will be represented at the prestigious championship that draws around 400 elite dance teams from around the country.

The Cedar Heights team will give a preview of its performance at a 7 p.m. rally today (Thursday) at the junior high.

Joining Cedar Heights in Orlando will be John Sedgwick Junior High School’s dance team in its second year at the competition. The two Kitsap schools are among six from Washington — and the only junior highs in the state — heading to nationals.

Participating on the team take all the dedication of a varsity sport, as teams practice three or four nights a week and often on weekends.

Cedar Heights and Sedgwick’s performances at the national competition will be available for viewing at www.varsity.com Saturday evening. Both teams have a chance to make the finals on Sunday. The event will be broadcast on ESPN later this year.

City of Port Orchard: Thrifty or Cheap?

You’ll have read in today’s Kitsap Sun that the county’s projected sales tax revenues are lower than expected.

According to the story by Steve Gardner:

“Revenues came in $600,000 less than expected for the year, even after the county had trimmed its original budget expectations by $2.8 million.”


The county is in good (?) company. Gardner writes:

“On Bainbridge Island, the city learned last week that permitting fee revenues were dramatically less than expected for the end of the year.

In Bremerton, the city closed its offices to the public on Fridays, in part to deal with a $4.4 million budget hole there. Poulsbo came in $1 million short after 2008. Steve Gardner just informed me (1:30 p.m.) that he heard from the city of Poulsbo an update that this city also came in about where they expected for revenue.

Port Orchard was the only city to come close to its original budget.” Port Orchard and Poulsbo both came in close to their original budgets.

When asked if Port Orchard was feeling the other cities’ budget pain, City Treasurer Kris Tompkins e-mailed me:

“We came into 2009 pretty close to budgeted beginning cash balances. We will be watching revenues (and expenditures) closely each month, particularly sales tax collections. I will be briefing the Mayor and
Finance Committee regularly so we can adjust if necessary.

As you know we tend to budget conservatively here.”

I can testify to this. I don’t live within city limits, but we get our water and sewer from Port Orchard. I can remember a time (definitely less than five years ago, possibly less than three) that the city did not provide return envelopes with its bills. I have jokingly said they charge by the sheet for toilet paper if you want to use the restroom at City Hall. It’s not true, but it reflects the mentality of at least the last 20 years, which is at least how long Tomkins has been with the city. In all probability she will continue to keep the city council on a short leash to extent her job description allows.

Gardner and I were talking about this yesterday evening. Playing devil’s advocate, Steve asked if budgeting conservatively is being straight up with constituents. After all, it boils down to underestimating revenues and overestimating expenses. City officials who budget spot on get dinged in an economy like this, where nasty surprises are the order of the day.

South Kitsap School District does the same thing as Port Orchard. The district reported a $2.9 million budget shortfall for the 2008-2009 school year, but about $2 million of that was what Terri Patton, assistant superintendent of business and support services, calls “soft money.” Because the district budgets conservatively, they ended up ahead by about $1 million at the end of the last school year. They used $470,000 for the district’s needs, reducing the fund balance below the targeted 3+ percent. They used $250,000 of their “contingency fund” (savings account for emergencies), and they had $184,000 in “carry over.” According to Patton, “We made real cuts of $900,000.”

So, playing the devil’s advocate, I would ask, “Is this playing the shell game with the public’s money or responsible stewardship of same? How does a public entity strike the balance between providing for the constituents’ needs and providing for a rainy day?”

(Let it be noted that both PO and SKSD, like all other jurisdictions, invest any excess funds to generate additional revenue. According to Patton, their cushion will be depleted by the 2009-2010 school year, and they’ll be looking at “real cuts of $3 to $5 million.)