Explore expanded partnerships for local schools | In Our Opinion
August 3, 2012 · 9:53 AM
Should the North Kitsap School District solicit sponsorships — the naming of buildings, fields and stadiums in exchange for money — to bolster the district’s budget?
Asked that question on NorthKitsapHerald.com, 61.3 percent of respondents said yes, 38.7 percent said no. On KingstonCommunityNews.com, the response was 75 percent yes, 25 percent no.
It’s time for the school board to have that discussion.
The school board on Tuesday cut approximately $2.2 million from the budget to bring it into balance for the 2012-13 school year. The district is doing a fine job of budget slicing and dicing, but with every snip it’s more apparent that the district’s real problem is revenue, which has been on a long decline from declining property values, budget cuts on the state level, and declining enrollment.
So what to do? The prospect of sponsorships has been proposed, and before you think of golden arches or a giant soda-pop bottle being erected at North Kitsap Stadium, consider this.
First, the school district already has a sponsorship policy in place. According to the policy, sponsorship “shall be consistent with the district’s goals and policies …,” “shall have educational or recreational value …,” “and shall not interfere with curricular or co-curricular activities.”
Second, schools already depend on outside involvement to meet certain needs. The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and nonprofits keep summer school going and children fed at Wolfle Elementary School. Parents worked with students to create art tiles and remodel restrooms at Gordon Elementary School. The Kitsap Arts & Crafts Association supports an art docent program in public elementary schools.
A good sponsorship policy could help increase the understanding of financially supporting education and improving its practice. According to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, donors see themselves as partners in charitable efforts, and a good sponsorship policy could help them understand and direct how their money can be used. Why not an endowed teaching position? Or sponsorship of the stadium, so money that would be used for maintenance and improvements could be directed elsewhere?
Why not a partnership that enables an entire program to be funded? On San Juan Island, the school district eliminated sports funding from the budget. But it contracted with the local parks and recreation district to fund school sports. Rec district voters backed an increase in the tax levy that is set aside strictly for school athletics. The measure funds school sports for six years.
Superintendent Patty Page, in her second month on the job, is doing a masterful job realigning responsibilities in the wake of career moves and retirements, and in finding other savings. But it’s increasingly obvious that she will have to be equally creative in finding new revenue for education. Fortunately for her, public support seems to be in her favor.