NK thanks departing school board directors

POULSBO — Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The North Kitsap School District came together to offer gratitude, appreciation and memories to departing school board directors Dick Endresen and Bethany McDonald Dec. 8 at the high school commons. Smiles filled the room and a standing ovation relieved the pair from their previous seats at the school board meeting that followed.

“For a number of years, things (in the district) have been going in a positive direction,” said former school board president Jean Wasson. “And these folks have definitely been a part of it.”

McDonald served the NKSD from 1997-2005 and Endresen served for 20 years, starting in 1985.

“I’ve known Dick for a long time. We had a lot of good times and did a lot of good work together,” said Wasson, who served the NKSD board for 16 years, starting in 1983.

Endresen said he initially ran for the board because he saw there was work that needed to be done and he wanted to make sure that it was accomplished. Back then, a public group called the North Kitsap Taxpayers Association felt the schools should not collect taxpayer dollars in the form of levies and bonds. Endresen ran to ensure the funding practice was safeguarded.

“I cannot and will not take any individual credit,” he said. “Together, as a whole board, we accomplished all these things.”

The 1985 board extinguished the dissension and misrepresentation of the schools within the community and started laying the tracks for the communication that is vital to district progress today. And 20 years later, the district has not failed to pass a levy.

“The community gave me the opportunity to serve them and I am very grateful for that,” Endresen said “Getting reelected just let me know that what I was doing was right.”

He, along with the boards he has been a part of, has seen that the monies collected have been put to good use. Parents who have or have had students go through Vinland, Wolfle, Gordon, Kingston Junior High, Spectrum Community school, have been touched by Endresen’s experience. His name is on nearly every building in the district on a gold architect’s plaque as he has been a part of either construction or renovation of each school.

In 2001 Endresen and McDonald worked diligently together along with members of the district and present board through a rocky passage of a capital facilities bond, which included plans for the construction of a new 800-student secondary school in Kingston.

“It’s been interesting,” the departing directors agreed.

“It’s been exciting in that we hired a new superintendent, passed a major capitals bond and we started and completed many other projects,” McDonald said of her eight-year tenure on the board.

Along with Endresen, McDonald is somewhat of a new-age historian as she has been involved in the district for nearly 30 years. Prior to her formal service on the school board she was president of the Suquamish PTA, a member of district committees as well as a teacher’s assistant at Suquamish — the elementary school is actually her neighbor.

“It’s the foundation of everything,” she said of education. “I ran because I wanted to throw my name in the hat as someone who could be supportive (of education).”

She ran unopposed in 1997 and was reelected in 2001. She served as board president for three years of her term and called herself a “peacekeeper.”

“Bethany (McDonald) at many times was a very calming influence over us. She made sure we kept on track, and she attended to details,” said board president Catherine Ahl. “Both of them always kept all of the kids’ best interests in mind in whatever they did.”

And both will keep the children in mind as they exit the board.

McDonald plans to remain a part of the district’s capital facilities advisory committee and admits that she will most likely drift back across the street to Suquamish Elementary.

“I can’t lose my interest in education,” she said. “It’s fun to be involved with kids.”

Endresen likewise mentioned that he will still have an ear out for the goings-on. As he spouted a thank you list that lasted for nearly five minutes he said, “I’ll be in contact,” with a smile.

As for advice to their successors and colleagues of the board:

Endresen said, “Communicate and listen. Listen to the public, listen to parents and listen to kids.”

And to the board McDonald offered, “Follow up on details, work as a group and they can accomplish a lot. Student learning outcomes should remain the focus ... there are many ways to get there, I think they should keep their eyes ears and minds open to possibilities.”

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