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Citizen committee complimentary of South Kitsap schools' budget

The words “resourceful and responsible” frequently are used when administrators discuss the budget at South Kitsap School District school board meetings.

And members of the Citizens Budget Review Committee seemed to agree during Wednesday’s meeting.

The CBRC, whose members are appointed by the board, are assigned to review the schools budget and make recommendations annually to them. The groups, which consist of facilities and operations, personnel and labor relations, school and family support, school recommendations, and extracurricular activities and athletics, have three to five community members who review each area.

Each group was asked where they would make their initial cuts if the budget woes continue — SKSD assistant superintendent for business and support Terri Patton has projected a $5.8-million deficit for 2010-11 — and if it remains the same, where efficiencies could be found.

Kate Espy, who spoke on behalf of the group that reviewed the district’s facilities and operations, noted that department already has lost a manager and six custodians over the last 18 months, while working with some aging equipment and facilities.

“We see absolutely nowhere they can cut in this department,” she said. “They are as efficient as we see they possibly can be.”

Espy’s group also found that further cuts would reduce the department’s efficiency and comprise its ability to create a safe environment.

“This department has to be maintained as well as it can because it is what keeps the South Kitsap School District going,” Espy said.

The personnel and labor-relations committee echoed many of those comments. One suggestion involved changing the language in the teachers’ contracts. Instead of hiring an outside consultant to provide an independent review when there is a performance concern with a certified staff member, the group suggested that the district uses another employee alongside an administrator as a third party.

Barbara Geiger and former board member Naomi Polen made the presentation for the school and family-support group. They encouraged the district to cut its annual Back to School Celebration budget from $8,700 to $4,500. Polen said that was because the district purchased some expensive equipment that can be reused in the foreseeable future.

The group also recommended that the district post a sign encouraging that people only take items for current and incoming students because they think donations could decrease this year. They noted that some parents have taken backpacks in the past for children as young as 2 years old, and doing that in August could prevent a student from receiving supplies for school.

“We want to make sure the people who need supplies get them,” Geiger said.

They also recommended that the Office of School & Family Support decrease its set registration ($2,000) and travel ($2,500) budgets by 50 percent during the next budget cycle, and that nurse and health-screening registration ($2,700) does the same.

John Walker presented the school recommendations group’s findings. They suggested that the district’s budget office should coordinate with officials at each school before signing a new contract with a copy-machine supplier to identify everyone’s needs. Walker said the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay saved $10,000 in a year by standardizing its fonts.

The group also noted that SKSD has more than $200,000 in uncollected fees and fines. They feel that allowing the use of credit cards to pay those debts might be helpful.

The extracurricular activities and athletics presentation was given by Dawn Townsend. They showed that participation levels in those categories was approximately 64 percent in the junior highs and about 52 percent at South Kitsap High School.

“It’s amazing how many people who graduate from South Kitsap stay in this community,” Townsend said. “I think a lot of that is related to sports.”

Townsend said that 97 percent of athletic director Ed Santos’ budget goes toward stipends and coaches salaries. That does not include other expenses, such as travel or equipment upgrades.

The committee found that no cuts should be made to that budget.

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