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SKSD Board of Directors issues open letter the the community
The South Kitsap School District Board of Directors issued an open letter to the community concerning the budget and other concerns.
Listed below is the contents of the letter:
We would like to bring you up to date on important matters facing the South Kitsap District. For more than a decade, our South Kitsap Schools have been on a healthy course for student success. Our staff pours heart and soul into a robust student focused environment. Our community voted to support four consecutive 4-year levies that fund much of that opportunity even while the State has struggled to amply fund basic education. Our students have thrived and we are all working to ensure continued success.
While focusing funds on classroom and student success, the SKSD Board of Directors made strategic decisions to retain teachers after the State Legislature defunded “I-728” (class size reduction initiative passed in 2000) and to improve professional development for our teaching cadre through increased TRI (Time Responsibility, Incentive) time. We continue to believe that this strategy is essential for ongoing student success. Unfortunately, with continued declining enrollment and the State failing to make adequate progress in funding the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, our reserves are being rapidly depleted. As a result of these circumstances, in order to maintain fiscal solvency in 2013-2014, we made a decision in April to staff all classrooms next year at the “preferred” numbers in the South Kitsap Education Association (SKEA) contract. This is a change in staffing for the secondary core subject classes which were staffed at four below the contracted “preferred” numbers this year. This action will arrest the depletion of reserves to maintain fiscal solvency, allow us to maintain TRI time for teachers, and keep SKSD on course with our “whole child” approach to student success.
Last week, SKEA took a vote of no-confidence in our Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Sandy Rotella. The SKSD Board of Directors emphatically disagrees with the assertions made in support of this vote, and we encourage teachers, classified staff, and all school community members to consider all the facts before reaching a judgment on this issue. We have the utmost confidence in our CFO, her abilities, and her professional management of district funds. Sandy will continue to play a crucial role in managing SKSD’s finances to achieve the Board’s strategic imperatives. Use of reserves was by direction of the Board of Directors and our CFO constantly reminded us of the risks involved in depleting reserves. We have asked Dr. Cheney to initiate an outside review of our financial condition in order to address the concerns of SKEA. This is an action of good faith by SKSD to assure SKEA of our commitment to honesty and integrity in our fiscal practices and reporting.
SKEA also took a vote last week to authorize a strike vote on August 26, 2013, if SKEA does not have a positive recommendation to approve a negotiated contract by that time. The Board of Directors believes this vote was extremely premature. SKSD has been working with SKEA to negotiate a new contract, in good faith, since March. Mediation has not yet been requested by either side, which would be the next step in the process in the event that the bargaining teams cannot reach consensus. While we had hoped that this contract would have been ready for a SKEA vote by now, we will continue to negotiate in good faith and are hopeful that contract negotiations can be completed by the end of July.
Last week, in reviewing the performance of our current Superintendent, Dr. Bev Cheney and our performance expectations of incoming Superintendent, Dr. Michelle Reid, the Board of Directors unambiguously expressed continued confidence in SKSD District Leadership in executing our strategic goals. Toward that end, we directed Dr. Cheney and Dr. Reid to work collaboratively to revise and implement our comprehensive short- and long-term budget plans to better accommodate the economic and legislative fluctuations that impact our financial situation. The plan will continue to be guided by the district’s vision, our belief in the capability of all students to succeed without exception and our core values of student success, the whole child, and fiscal responsibility. The short-term goal will be the development of a balanced 2013-14 budget and the initiation of foundational steps toward the long-term goal of a consistently stable and flexible budget that will enable the district to successfully support its vision, beliefs and core values while simultaneously weathering future budget challenges.
We will continue to focus on District policy that maximizes student success within agile and responsible fiduciary margins. We continue to have faith in our staff, our students, and our community to make the very best of challenging times and remain hopeful and focused on SKSD’s vision to Nurture Growth, Inspire Achievement, and Build Community each and every day for each and every child.
SKSD Board of Directors:
Keith Garton – President
Chris Lemke – Vice President