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North Kitsap School Board approves budget amidst doubts

Four out of the five members of the North Kitsap School Board voted for the $64 million budget for the 2011-12 school year Thursday night.

Ed Strickland voted against.

Due to the lack of willingness to retain two librarians who were among the reduction of 28 teaching positions, Strickland resigned as tribal liaison during executive session.

"The Board ignored a request from the tribes to reinstate the librarians," Strickland said. "We will lose tribal leadership - tribes help all kids."

Commenting on alternatives to staffing cuts, Strickland said the amount of paper printed annually by the district was to costly and even questioned whether or not lawns should be mowed if it were a way to help save jobs.

"I will not vote for a budget that takes people out for paper," Strickland said. "I think there is a lot more that can be taken out of the budget to save people."

The board was forced to make more than $2 million in cuts for 2011-12. This was caused by a $2.7 million revenue plunge, which was caused by a lack of state funding and an unforeseen drop in student enrollment during the 2010-11 year. A predicted drop of enrollment again next year also played a factor in the budget.

President of the North Kitsap Educators Association Chris Fraser encouraged the board to review of some budget line items that could have potentially reallocated funds to staff. Though disappointed in the outcome, Fraser acknowledged it was a difficult decision.

"This Board has spent more time looking in depth at the budget than any others in the past," Fraser said. "I trust that they have been thoughtful and diligent through the process. I hope the Board will continue to keep kids front and center as they approach the fall school year."

Controversy arose during the final discussions.

A proposal was made involving several ideas that might defer a $180,000 payment to ball field turf maintenance funds for one year. Director Kathleen Dassel made a motion to defer, but it was not seconded and overrun rapidly by comments. Treasurer Jim Heins of the Kitsap Public Facilities District suggested the school board was considering playing with money that wasn't theirs.

"You are making a huge mistake," said Hines. "We feel you are taking money that isn't really yours to take."

In final resolution, it was agreed the turf payments would be taken out of the projected 3 percent funding reserve, pending public input during a meeting, as required by law.

In other business, the Board agreed to recruit volunteers for a superintendent selection committee. After a quick decision to not hire a search firm, Directors Tom Anderson and Dan Weedin accepted the task of preparing a position description to release in August.

 

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