The Voice of South Kitsap

I received a lengthy phone message from a caller who revealed “the real reason the South Kitsap levy (sic) didn’t pass.”

At the end of the message, he said, “I know your paper’s liberal, so you’re not going to print nothing, but now you know the rest of the story, like Paul Harvey. Thank you.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t leave his name. So, no, we can’t use his comments in articles on the Web or in print, because of the Kitsap Sun’s policy on anonymous sources. However, the rules of blogging being a tad more liberal (no play on the caller’s words intended), I’ll relay the gist of his message below, as I think he expresses a point of view we’re not going to hear from any organized (or at least semi-formal) opposition to the bond.

I present Mr. Voice of South Kitsap:

“The gas prices just went up. We’re going to be hit with the (Tacoma Narrows) bridge (toll). The three stooges at the port district decided to raise money for the Bremerton rich people to build a nice marina, and South Kitsap was in on it. They want to shove a track down our throat, a race track. The ferry’s going up. …”

Furthermore, Mr. Voice said, since the new high school is supposed to go into the McCormick Woods area, McCormick Woods residents and realtors who stand to benefit (including Lynn Williams, husband of South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel) should have to subsidize the project.

On the topic of “yes” voters, he said, “The 51 percent is the people with a lot of money, upper income, or the lower income people with a lot of kids who rent or just get by” and want a better education for their children.

He also noted the epidemic of skyrocketing debt about the county.

And “last but not least,” he said, “It don’t matter what kind of school they build. They just went down on their WASL test, or whatever you call it, and you say you’re going to build a Taj Mahal for the kids …”

Voice said, for all these reasons, a bond in South Kitsap is unlikely to pass “until all the old people die off, the fixed income people, and the other people get taxed out of their houses and it’s just left to the condo dwellers.”

Did I miss anything, Mr. Voice?

A final note: I ordinarily shelve comments submitted anonymously, and I won’t make a habit out of running them, but I like to live by the bumper sticker on the back of my car, “Learn the rules, so you can break them properly.”

65 thoughts on “The Voice of South Kitsap

  1. I can just hear the back lash for even attempting this conversation, but I think that while it is acknowledged that teachers work very hard, I think that it is a well-maintained myth in our society that they work harder than anyone else and get paid less. I worked for WIC for several years and counseled hundreds of young mothers working just as harder or harder for far less money. I know you will say that the education piece matters, but I worked for WIC as a certified teacher making about half the wages of a teacher. Unfortunately, student loans will be forgiven if you are a teacher working with a low income population, but the teaching profession is the only one recognized, so my student loans were untouched in spite of the population I served. So, while we are certainly proud of the efforts our teachers make in educating our children, can we refrain from perpetuating a myth that only damages the efforts to recruit good people to teaching and embitters the rest of the population.

  2. Bill,

    First, teachers on sabbatical don’t get full pay while on sabbatical. Teachers with seven years of teaching in Washington are able to apply for “sabbatical” and get a 1/2 pay loan (pay for 1/2 of their salary for up to a year), which must be repayed if the teacher doesn’t stay with the District for two years after returning from Sabbatical. So, I’m not sure where you get $612,000 per year in cost for Sabbatical.

    Second, and more importantly, “teaching and teaching support” involves more than just teachers. It involves para-educators, helping teachers, and several other important roles too. So, the numbers you are using to divide by are inaccurate.

    You also seem to infer that if a teacher isn’t in the classroom then they are not benefitting our students. Are activities like correcting papers, planning and preparing lessons, collaboration with other teachers and specialists about student needs, and other “teaching support” activities not important?

    Your method of “number crunching” isn’t consistent with best practices in education and certainly doesn’t quantify the hours and hours each week a teacher spends, of their own time, grading papers, planning assignments, taking courses, and improving their skills.

    As a school board director, I expect teachers to earn their pay. The vast majority do so and much more.

    Regarding sabbaticals, a teacher who spends 7 years teaching and then takes a sabbatical (for a advanced study or other approved purpose) comes back with fresh ideas and experiences to be an even more effective teacher and mentor.

    You believe our teachers do the least they can get away with. I believe our teachers do far more than we give them credit or compensation for.

    Finally, just for comparison sake. Where did/do you work, Bill? Perhaps it would be interesting to compare compensation packages of our teachers and staff to the packages of other companies or federal sector employment.

    Kathryn Simpson

  3. Mary,

    I’m sorry you were inadequately paid at WIC. However, inadequate pay in one arena doesn’t justify inadequate pay an another arena.

    The reality for school districts is that we have to attempt to recruit college graduates to start at $30,900 per year. See: CNN 2005 Report.

    Why would a math major want to become a math teacher? If they did the math (pun intended), they can certainly see how much more they can make in other arenas.

    Kathryn Simpson

  4. Bill,

    If you tell us where you get your figures, it might save some time — at least, it would save me the trouble of looking for what you found until I find it.

    I first looked where you should have — the most recent financial statement (F-196) for school year 2005-06 — and, of course, didn’t find the dollar figure you used in this statement:

    ” There are 683 teachers with an average tenure of 13.5 years. 60% have at least a masters degree. Teaching and teaching support costs $59,775,195 for the 182-day school year, or $481/day/teacher or $64/teacher-hour.”

    Just in case someone reads this and wonders where to find the needed information, it is here in the “district reports” at the OSPI web site:

    (There is a lot of useful information there — including the Report 1251H that a certain well known member of our community thinks is not there.)

    Recognize that the financial report (F-196) is a report of what actually was done, while the budget (F-195) for this year is a plan for what will be done if things work out as planned. If you want to know what was in fact done, look at the financial report, not the budget.

    Now, in that financial report is this figure for total salaries of all certificated employees (which unfortunately for your purposes includes certificated administrators) on page 17 in the “object” column:

    And, unfortunately in combination with classified employees, here is the figure for “benefits and payroll tax” for all employees:

    Those figures don’t add up to your total. They add up to $52,971,242.33 — and since they include more than just the compensation of teaching personnel, it seems plain that your figure is wrong.

    Then, I thought you may have looked at the budget (F-195) for this year. Sure enough, you did. And, you confused the total expenditures for the “teaching” and “teaching support” activities with the personal compensation of those certificated employees.

    Your figure appears on page GF11 of this year’s budget (F-195), and it accounts for all expenditures of all sorts attributable to those “activities,” not just the compensation of the teaching personnel.

    So, you need to start over at square one, it seems to me.

  5. Kathryn,
    In promoting “getting involved” I must wonder why you never address the issue of how Bob Lamb was received in his outlook of the bond issue?

  6. Bill,

    Your entire calculation rests on the assumption that time not spent in front of students is not spent for the benefit of the students. That assumption is simply not true.

  7. Kathy,
    Dave is right. You haven’t addressed how Bob Lamb was received. In fact, the SKSD must do a better job of addressing how it treats dissenting voices. I can testify that the treatment isn’t pretty. You chided me and suggested that I risked “credibility” when I expressed an opinion, yet do you not wonder why you are the only SKSD board member going after SK citizens on this blog?

  8. Dave,

    Please scroll back to my post on March 16, 2007, on this page, at 01:45 PM, where I addressed your question.

    I would also suggest that you call Bob Lamb and ask him how I receive his outlook on the bond (and other district issues). He and I have had several respectful conversations and we disagree on some key matters. He is involved and I respect and welcome his involvement.

    If that doesn’t answer your question, I’m not sure what can.

    Kathryn Simpson

  9. Bill,

    Not having recalled approving any sabbaticals in the past year, I checked with staff and we do not currently have anyone on “sabbatical” and one of our senior staff members, who would know this information, says that we haven’t had anyone on a “sabbatical” in quite some time.

    Therefore, your $612,000 figure is off the mark.

    Please read our staffing reports regularly at SKSD Board Docs . I’m happy to answer any questions or concerns that you have, too. If I don’t know the answer, as you see from this dialog, I will obtain the answer and let you know.

    Kathryn Simpson

  10. Mary,

    I’m “going after” SK Citizens in this blog? If that is the impression you have, then we have a significant difference of opinion on my intent. I thought I was sharing facts and responding to the public’s questions and concerns.

    The school board is criticized for not addressing concerns and yet, here I am attempting to engage in dialog and you accuse me of “going after SK Citizens”. I guess my thought was that if folks won’t engage at school board meetings, perhaps school board members should find venues where people will engage in discussion. I thought that is what I’m doing.

    Sorry, Mary, I see dialog and while not perfect, I think there is far more dialog going here than “going after SK Citizens”. If you want to see someone “going after” others, please CLICK HERE.

    Further, I did not state that you risk credibility when you state an opinion. What I said was, “If one wants credibility, one must be consistent” (March 25, 2007 11:59 AM – my post).

    In the interest of finding common ground, I’ll agree that SKSD (and I) can do a better job of engaging the dissenting opinions. I think SKSD already does a very good job, but there is always room for improvement (in all of us).

    Finally, as I just responded to Dave, please see my post on March 16th, at 1:45 PM in regard to having answered the question about Bob Lamb.

    Kathryn Simpson

  11. Hi Kathryn (Bob too)

    Always good to hear from you, although I’m not sure of which you are most proud – Sabbaticals return teachers “with fresh ideas and experiences to be an even more effective teacher and mentor”, or, “we haven’t had anyone on a “sabbatical” in quite some time.” (smile)

    Either way that perk should be eliminated from the union contract.

    Referring to Bob Meadows’ most recent post,

    (recall my earlier point concerning the data in question … “all we have to do is find it, wade through it, decipher it, make the calculations, do the analysis…”)

    It is disingenuous for Robert Bunker, school board member, to direct me to one source for data, Bob Meadows uses another source … granted the deviation isn’t significant despite his view and then quibble over a few %. But you see that my point was on the mark, what is the source? So rather than quibble on what data set applies let me request that you provide actual expenses for each of the Article VI and VII Union Contract elements, and the maximum district liability (in terms of dollars) associated with those elements. I’ve asked Greg Roberts for actual classroom time. Both of these data sets, what your are asked to provide and what Greg provides, should complement each other.

    Would also like to know how many classrooms exist within the district – what I’m getting at is if there are 6xx teachers on staff, are there 6xx classrooms? Also average class size – want to compare it to total students/# teachers.

    Closing points … friendships to, and admiration for, are both admirable qualities to have and receive. However “duty” must rise above friendships. Your posts and Bob’s read largely from a perspective of your friendships or admiration for the people employed by the district. However your duty isn’t to them; your duty is to the kids and to us. The district employees’ duty is to the kids and to us.

    I see nothing wrong with a 10-hr workday, excluding a ½ lunch (forget duty-free) for a short 182-day work schedule. Nor do I find it unreasonable to expect full-time positions teaching no less than 5-class periods per day, rather than “no more than 5 class periods”. I see nothing unreasonable about requiring full attendance given the nearly 100 other days available for those other activities. The reason I find nothing unreasonable about these things is because everyone else does it or has it much more difficult! I’ve done what I preach most my professional career and I’ve required it of those I’ve supervised.

    You agree much needs to change and improve, but argue why the status quo is justified. All Bob wants is more money without any effort to first find waste and then correct it – clearly a tax dollar to Bob isn’t to be respected.

    You read the studies, you know the trends … the status quo is unacceptable. The union influences are damaging the public school system just as it destroyed the US steel industry, is crippling the airline and auto industries and is largely responsible for sending US jobs abroad. My question to you and Bob is how much better educated will SK’s kids be if you shifted just $10M out of employee perks and funneled it into the classroom?

    Last point, since you will be negotiating a new contract with the teachers’ union this year don’t you think it important people see what they will be paying. Clearly there is interest – on either side, given the responses already generated on this blog. We want to know! So if you don’t want us to know at least tell us why.

  12. Mary,

    Your 6:44AM post demonstrates your purposeful intent to twist what others say to suit your own needs rather than discuss it in honest context.

    I was pointing out your behavior in telling Judi to “Shut Up”. Of course, you know that. But you decided to twist what I posted into something that, at least at first glance, looks like something other than it was. Some would call that dishonest.

    If one sincerely wants honest dialog, one must be willing to do so with integrity.

    We need to engage in the sometimes uncomfortable, but necessary honest conversations about our schools and community. Lets reason together. This can be done and we can find common ground to build upon. However, the conversations are not productive unless people dialog with integrity.

    Kathryn Simpson

  13. Kathy,
    Quite honestly, Judi has been attacking people very viciously. Is that honest enough for you? How do I say it anymore honestly? Judi is vicious! That is an honest opinion. Now, about the Judi, just shut up! comment, I sent that in exasperation and then immediately wrote both the webmaster and Chris Henry and pleaded with them not to allow it to be posted. I assumed that these blogs are carefully monitored, but somehow it slipped through. So, I apologize for telling Judi what I honestly meant. So, just shut up!

  14. Bill Scheidler,

    Place your prejudices aside for a moment, stop thinking of yourself as the only person interested in what you call accountability, and think about this.

    How do you think I learned so much about the statutes, regulations, accounting manual, reports, forms, and all the things that go into understanding what a person can learn from the publicly available information about our K-12 schools?

    Do you think it was a quick and easy thing to do? It took countless hours of study over more than a year. It involved attending every single meeting of the school board for almost two years. It required observing every single meeting of the budget advisory committee even though I wasn’t permitted to speak. It eventually led to membership on that committee when it for the first time took part in putting together an M&O levy recommendation.

    You have barely started, and I’ll bet you won’t have the stamina to go so far.

    When I point you to the sources you need, why do you think I bother?

    When Robert Bunker, who probably knows far less than I do about where to find the answers to your questions points you to the budget, do you really have so little sense and regard for your fellow man that you think he is lying to you? “Disingenuous” is merely another word for deceitful behavior.

    Do yourself and the rest of us a favor, and quit attributing to other people the things that you imagine to be true about them.

    If you want to try to change the board’s policies that produce a collective bargaining agreement that you don’t like, you have to learn more than they know about it. You have to back up what you say with facts.

    When I point you to financial reports which show that your initial numbers are off by many millions of dollars, go back and start again. Don’t try to blow it off as a small percentage of difference.

    Frankly, I think based on my experience that you may as well tilt at windmills rather than pursue what I think you are pursuing. Not because I think the goal is undesirable, but because I think you are going at it in a way that is doomed to failure — and to cause nothing but discord.

    I didn’t tilt at that particular windmill, although I did give it enough jabs to come to the conclusion that it is a task that will have to wait.

    I’m willing to attempt the impossible, but I also am inclined to focus on achieving what seems possible at the time.

    Right now, I see the bond measure — whatever turns out to be put on the ballot whenever it is put there — to be the possible thing to focus on.

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