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Grading the candidates for school board

With the November 4 elections looming, three of the five seats on the North Kitsap School Board of Directors are up for grabs. Districts 2 and 5 are guaranteed to have a new face on the board and District 4, where Mick Sheldon is running against the only board veteran Catherine Ahl, is up in the air.

The Herald recently asked each of the six candidates several questions about why they were running, what problems face the district and what they would do differently, if elected.

The questions asked were:

1.) Why did you choose to run for school board?

2.) What are the largest challenges facing the North Kitsap School District?

3.) What would you recommend the school board do to overcome those challenges?

4.) What program or programs in the district would you like to see receive more funding or support?

5.) What resources can be used to further improve schools in the district?

District 2: Dan Delaney vs. Jonathan Hibbs

Dan Delaney

1.) Having been involved as a parent and volunteer in the school district for 12 years, and because of my experience as a teacher, I decided it might be my turn to step up to the plate and do what I could to provide leadership. I spoke with Helen Hoover and she suggested I run, so I am. I’m in the enviable position of being friends with Jonathan Hibbs, who is a fine candidate, but I think voters benefit from having a choice.

2.) All districts in the state face the challenge of shrinking funding. Ours is lucky to have the support of the community. All districts are also faced with the problem of state and federal mandates dealing with test scores. We are dealing as a district with the renovation of aging facilities as well as the construction of an entirely new high school. There is also a perception that our district is not serving all the students’ needs, resulting in large drop-out rates.

3.) As always, challenges can be seen as opportunities. We have a dedicated and capable teaching staff, a superintendent who is on the right track and support staff that is nothing short of heroic. I believe the school board can facilitate community participation in and support of efforts to overcome any challenges. Education is the bedrock of any community and I believe North Kitsap residents are ready to help in any way they can. It is up to the board to utilize this powerful resource.

4.) May I say that all the district’s programs could use additional support and funding? Be that as it may, the more variety there is in available programs the better chance we have in meeting the great diversity of students‚ needs and interests. This is problematic in the present economic situation. I believe strongly in the benefits of performing arts programs, alternative learning programs, diversified athletics, and the P.A.L. program.

5.) The greatest resource every school has is the community it is placed in. Schools are not the buildings, the stucco and steel and wood. They are the people; the hearts and minds and spirits of the children, teachers, staff and parents. They are a reflection of how much hope, courage, and love a community has within it and how much that community cares. The North Kitsap community itself is our greatest resource. The board has only to guide that energy where it can do the most good.

Jonathan Hibbs

1.) I believe in giving back to the community through public service. After talking to Helen Hoover, current director for my district, I thought that I might have something to offer in service to the school district.

2.) I believe that the biggest challenge facing not only the North Kitsap School District but all school districts is the cuts in funding on both the state and federal levels and the issuing of unfunded mandates.

3.) I believe that all school districts should present a unified front in demanding adequate funding for all government mandated programs.

4.) I do not have the information to make any kind of decision as to which programs need funding or support. I am sure that there are many.

5.) I believe that the greatest untapped resource in our communities are our older citizens. They have a wealth of history, knowledge and skills that could bridge the gap of our past and future.

District 4: Catherine Ahl vs.

Mick Sheldon

Catherine Ahl

1.) I chose to run for re-election in order to (1) continue to move forward with education reform and advocate for ample funding from the state, (2) continue to build strong partnerships between the schools and the community, and (3) continue to monitor the school renovations and the design and construction of the new high school. I will continue to work as a member of the school board/superintendent team to keep focused on student achievement, continue to involve the community, and continue to ensure that each capital project is within budget and meets the bond goals.

2.) Our largest challenge is to continue to make sure larger percentages of our students meet the higher standards (pass the WASL). Our present 8th graders will be required to meet those standards in order to receive a high school diploma and we must ensure that all students have the opportunity to do so. Another challenge will be to complete the school renovations and the new high school in the next four years. A third challenge will be state funding, which has decreased as a percentage of our budget over the last four years.

3.) We must continue to work to get state funding to provide for retakes of the WASLs and to provide extra help for those students not reaching the standards. We must continue to develop smaller learning communities within North Kitsap High School and the new Kingston High School, begin the process of revising attendance boundaries, and ensure the capital projects are on time and within budget. We must continue to work with our legislators to restore the cuts we’ve experienced over the past four years. And we must involve the entire community in this effort.

4.) I would like to see the state meet its Constitutional requirement to fully fund basic education so that levies can return to their rightful position of providing extras, not basics. Additionally, the state should fully fund I-728 to reduce class size and I-732 to provide the COLAs our teachers and staff deserve. The voters overwhelmingly approved both initiatives and the state must find a way to fund them. The state legislature should make a plan to find the revenues necessary to provide ample, stable, long-term funding of education.

5.) A most important resource we have in North Kitsap is our human resource. Our certified and classified staff, support staff, principals, district administrators, and superintendent are all dedicated to our students. Our parents support their children and volunteer, community members volunteer in the classrooms and through programs like NK Success, and the tribes contribute resources and provide educational programs. But we can’t do everything necessary with volunteers. We need funding from the state, that we can count on from year to year, in order to provide the programs and the teachers to help all students meet higher standards.

Mick Sheldon

1.) I met my wife and we raised our family in North Kitsap. Recently, my wife and I became grandparents for the first time. I believe a good measure of how we evaluate how big we are as a community is by how far we will reach down to assist our kids. I have seen North Kitsap grow in leaps and bounds the past 20 years, we need every component of our district involved, and dedicated to insuring our youth will have a safe and positive community to grow and learn in the future. I believe our school board needs a parent’s perspective and feedback.

2) The biggest challenge we have is achieving the objectives of the “No Child Left Behind” law. I look at it as a tremendous opportunity for our youth also. The rural character of North Kitsap, which brought so many of us here, also causes some tough obstacles in dealing with our youth. For example, we have a limited amount of recreational fields for our youth and we need better access to them. Providing transportation for our young people for extra curricular activities can be especially hard for single parents, and where both parents work.

3) First, helping the community become aware of the No Child Left Behind law. I have been handing out a parent’s guide from the U.S. Department of Education. Next, a stronger partnership is needed with parents, non-profit organizations that work with youth, local parks and recreation agencies, and others that provide positive and healthy choices for youth. I would suggest reviewing the recent facility use fee increase, which the school board approved in June. We need to find creative ways to minimize the effect of the increase in fees on non-profit youth groups.

4.) I would like to see the Options Program extended through the 12th grade. It is a successful program that encourages parents to be actively involved in their children’s education. The program allows students with different learning styles to succeed. With “No Child Left Behind,” a federally funded “Reading First” program will make extra dollars available to help our younger children read by instilling skills at an early age of phonetic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Data has shown a higher percentage of our young people who learn these skills at a young age continue their success in education, while children who fall behind early tend to stay behind.

5.) We have two tribes within our district that provide a wealth of history and culture that can be utilized. We have some of the best nature trails and beaches in the Northwest where plant life and nature can be observed and studied. Close by we have some the most modern shipyards and naval bases in the world. We should also utilize the important information provided by knowledgeable senior citizens and military veterans who can bring history to life because of their experiences through some of the most historic moments in the past 100 years. All these can add richness to children’s learning experience.

District 5: Frank Spargo vs.

Ed Strickland

Frank Spargo

1.) I want to help. I believe every citizen should find some way to help make our society more civil, educated, healthy and prosperous. Government cannot do it alone — it takes all of us to help. I have the time to participate in the arena I know best — public education. Like most people, I have been extremely busy over the years but with grown children and good health, I can now spend time giving more back to the community. I have a doctorate in education, a master in business, and over 25 years of experience in finance and board committee activity.

2) Our first challenge is to truly leave no child behind. WASL shows that we are failing our special needs children. Second, to trust and support our professional teachers and administrators to fulfill their responsibilities in creative ways while responding to the visions adopted by the board. Third, to find a way for school districts to avoid the need for special levy bonds for normal operations.

Finally, provide the funds to lower performing schools so they can achieve the results of higher performing schools.

3.) I believe the school board should analyze the district’s spending patterns to be certain the money supports the highest priorities of the board and all children have equal access to resources, excellent learning experiences, qualified teachers, and appropriate curricula. I believe the board should take a leadership role in persuading the state to change its funding formulas. I believe the board could set the standards higher — why can’t

NKSD be the highest performing school district in the state? While we

perform above the state average, our scores show that 32 other districts

have higher standardized test scores than NKSD.

4.) The WASL and other standardized tests indicate mathematics continues to be a significant weak spot in our students’ learning. I would ask the

superintendent to form a short-duration task force of administrators and

teachers to come up with specific recommendations for improving mathematics achievement. Then the board should adopt the recommendations (if appropriate) and reallocate funds from other programs to achieve the results. We must do better in mathematics.

5.) What resources can be used further to improve schools in the district?

The school district should target funding sources to achieve specific goals,

and this is one area where I can help. Some ideas (in no particular order):

the school district could apply for specific grants; solicit major research

studies which can bring in funds; form public/private cooperative

agreements; develop magnet programs to attract donations; raise private

funds to help children who are at an educational disadvantage; lobby for

changes in the state’s funding mechanism; reallocate funds among programs

within the school district; share facilities more with communities,

government, and companies; and more.

Ed Strickland

1.) I felt that I had something to give to the district that should make a difference to kids, so when I was asked to run by friends, I accepted the challenge. I do not believe that there is anyone on the board or running for the board that has had more successful experience in the classroom or the business world than I have had. My wife and I give of our time and money to the schools, This is a chance to give more and hopefully really help the schools.

2.) Our largest challenge is just one, the lack of sufficient funds. Let’s face it, there is a lack of resources provided by the state for basic education. On top of this are the WASL and the federal regulations that are not funded or under funded. This lack of funds leads to problems when it comes to remodeling and building. It also leads to problems in the classroom as far as class size, hiring faculty, facilities, training, and supplies are concerned. We also face a problem of hiring new teachers who are trained in meeting these new challenges.

3) The school board has to lead the way in being very smart in the use of our resources. We especially need to be very wise and look at the long term results of the decisions we make in building and remodeling. We can burden our future with buildings that do not last and are expensive to maintain. We are seeing some of that now in our need to remodel schools that have been recently remodeled. We can look for some help with grants and other specially funded programs, but we cannot count on these.

4.) The after school program at KJHS and other schools needs to be supported and expanded. For many students this is the only way they have a chance to get the help they need to be successful in the classroom. We also need to give teachers help in improving instruction. The phrase, “It’s not about curriculum it’s about instruction” is a real mystery to many teachers.

5) We cannot tax ourselves any more by law, so we have to look other places for funds. We should be looking for grants using a specialist. We need to do more to get people in our community involved in the schools. Other districts have done this with far greater success than we have. There is a wealth of potential volunteers help out there with time and money to bring to the problem. This will also bring the school more support at the ballot box with more people having a vested interest in the schools.

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