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A glimpse at the candidates for NKSD District 3
POULSBO — The North Kitsap School Board District 3 director position is the only race that drew enough candidates to warrant a primary election this year.
Incumbent Ken Ames and Doug Prichard and Beth Worthington filed as candidates for the board position during the filing period that ended May 17. District 3 covers Indianola, and portions of Kingston, Poulsbo and Suquamish.
During a time of continuing reduction in funding in the school district, Ames said there is a “real need for experience” on the board.
Ames was appointed to the board Oct. 11 to complete Kathleen Dassel’s term and had planned to run for the position in 2009.
Ames moved from South Kitsap to Poulsbo in 2001 and had lived in South Kitsap since 1979. He served on the South Kitsap School Board for eight years and the state Board of Education for one year. Ames works at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a project planning engineer.
Having to cut, instead of add, to programs and staffing is difficult, Ames said. He described these as “frustrating times.” The focus for the board at this time is managing the district with less money, and consolidating or cutting programs.
One of the biggest issues Ames sees for the board is communication: There have been a lot of misconceptions regarding decisions such as closing Breidablik Elementary School, cutting teaching positions, and various program funding cuts. He said every decision the board makes is personal to someone, but less funding from declining enrollment is forcing those cuts. Ames is frustrated that people tend to listen to “pieces” of the information being given regarding cuts, and jumping to conclusions.
Though the district is facing less funding, Ames would like to see district staff make creative decisions on how to consolidate programs. He wants every student to continue to get the education they need, even if the programs they are in “look different.”
Though it would be easier to run unopposed, Ames prefers political races to be contested. To have three people file for the District 3 director position shows him people are interested and are not ignoring the school district.
“If someone comes in and has more to offer than I do, that’s fine,” Ames said. “I’m perfectly OK with that. I’d rather see more people involved … than have unopposed positions.”
Prichard said he’s not dissatisfied with the work being done on the board, but that he has something to add.
Prichard has lived in North Kitsap for 14 years. He has two sons in the district. His wife, Colleen, is active in the district — she is on the Board of Trustees of the North Kitsap Schools Foundation.
Prichard is vice president of information systems at Bentall Kennedy, a real estate investment advisory and services organization. He has a background in budgets and project management, he said.
Of the issues facing the school board, one of the biggest in Prichard’s eyes is managing the district through enrollment declines. He would like to see the board make “smart cuts while enrollment is dropping.” Some cuts, he said, will cause less of an enrollment decline than others.
“All cuts will be painful,” Prichard said. “But some cuts will help slow the rate of declining enrollment, and some will increase the rates of declining enrollment. That needs a lot of study and due diligence.”
Prichard filed for the position May 17 — the final day to file. He took time to talk with people who will help him and decided to “plunge in.” He’s not a politician, so it was a large undertaking. However, he’s hopeful the experience he’s had in his career will be beneficial to the school board.
Worthington’s desire to serve the community and bring her perspective to the school board compelled her to file as a candidate for the position.
A 19-year Suquamish resident, Worthington has one child in the school district; another child graduated from the district and is attending college.
Worthington would like the board to focus its efforts on making changes as the district shrinks.
The district has cut for about six years, which is tough to continue, she said. However, because of declining enrollment and therefore less funding, the education system needs to reflect fewer students, she said. Whatever decisions are made, she wants to preserve the district’s goal of providing learning opportunities for all students.
Closing a school was necessary, Worthington said. “I know it was really tough to make that move and make that decision,” she said. “I think there were several options, and I know they looked at them … There was really no good solution; the choice they made was the best that could be done.”
Worthington would like to “maintain positive efforts” to continue showing what the district is doing well, such as schools’ achievement levels and performance in academic competitions.
Worthington was encouraged by “folks” to file. She said they feel incumbent Ames is “not taking an active role.”
Worthington filed for the position in 2012 when it was vacated by Dassel. She said this is her first time running for elective office.