School board candidates make final pitch

POULSBO — Two of three candidates for the North Kitsap School Board will advance Tuesday from the primary to the Nov. 5 general election.

Ken Ames, Doug Prichard and Beth Worthington are campaigning for a chance to serve as District 3 director. The board position is the single race out of six in the northern part of the peninsula to draw enough candidates for a primary election.

Ames, the incumbent, formerly served on the South Kitsap School Board and the state Board of Education.

“I also served as president of the SKSB board for [two] different years,” he wrote in his voters’ pamphlet statement. “I was very active in local, state and federal legislative issues that impact our education system here in Washington and Kitsap County.”

Ames moved from South Kitsap to Poulsbo in 2001; he had lived in South Kitsap since 1979. He served on the South Kitsap board for eight years and the state board for one year. He works at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a project planning engineer, and also works for Kitsap Transit. His children attended Kitsap public schools.

One of the biggest issues Ames sees for the board is communication, he said in a previous interview: 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. He is frustrated that people listen to “pieces” of the information being given regarding cuts, and jump to conclusions.

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.”

“I believe that an excellent education of our young people in this community in North Kitsap is paramount to our future as we move forward in these financially uncertain times,” Ames’ statement reads. “I know the experience I have will bring a positive approach to school operation as we move forward to a leaner and very effective North Kitsap School District.”

Prichard told the Herald Wednesday that running for school board has been a learning process. He’s noticed similar themes in what’s important to the public regarding education, but everyone has a “slightly different take on what’s critical.”

The most important issues Prichard sees is enrollment decline and transparency between the district and public. He wants to understand the “root causes” of declining student enrollment. Understanding and remedying enrollment decline is an issue that needs to be stressed to administration, he said.

“It has to start with administration. It has to be important to them.”

Prichard is also wary of the public’s perception of the school district and questions its ability to renew its tax levy. He wants the school board to “work really hard to gain support of the community.”

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. His and his wife have lived in the district for 14 years. Two sons are enrolled in the district.

“Our school district is currently faced with difficult choices necessary to restore financial stability,” Prichard’s voters’ pamphlet statement reads. “... It is critical to protect revenue as budget cuts are made, by preserving the quality education that keeps students in North Kitsap schools.”

Worthington is running for school board “to give back to the community that has served my family for the last 18 years,” her statement in the voters’ pamphlet reads.

“Both my children have attended NK schools. I will be a good steward of our public dollars that are allocated to invest in the future, by educating our young people. I will set a vision and implement strategies that meet the unique needs of all of our students. I will ask questions to promote full understanding before decision are made.”

District budget cuts are tough, Worthington said in an earlier interview. 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.

According to her statement, her values are community engagement and transparency, management by facts and reliable predictions, financial responsibility, smaller class sizes, broad educational experiences, and sustaining excellence.

Worthington has spoken with families sending their children to other districts to learn why there is declining enrollment; reasons include geography and programs offered.

Worthington is interested to see which staff and programs will be restored as the district works on the 2013-14 budget with more than $1 million more to work with. She advocates smaller class sizes and funding vital programs, such as music.

“I will gather information and listen to the community to build a shared understanding of our needs and values,” her statement reads. “I will explore the challenges of today’s environment of declining enrollment and inadequate state funding. I will learn more about the competencies of our district’s programs and define strengths that can be leveraged.”

Worthington, a 19-year Suquamish resident, is an engineer and project manager for National Defense Programs. She serves on the school district’s budget committee.



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