POULSBO — Cindy Webster-Martinson’s term as North Kitsap School Board member from District 1 ends on Dec. 14, when Rick Eckert takes the oath of office.
She hopes her absence from the school board will be short.
Webster-Martinson said Dec. 5 she will apply for appointment to the District 5 position, which was made vacant when Bill Webb resigned on Nov. 30.
Webster-Martinson couldn’t run for reelection from District 1 because she moved to District 5; school board members are elected at large but must live in the director district from which they are elected.
Webster-Martinson said earlier that she was hoping to someday return to the board. “I wasn’t planning on it being this quick,” she said.
After Eckert takes office, the school board will set a timeline for recruiting and appointing a District 5 board member, district spokeswoman Jenn Markaryan said. The appointee will serve the remainder of the term, which ends in December 2019.
Webster-Martinson is an educator in the Suquamish Tribe’s Education Department. She earned a master’s degree in education at Seattle University and an undergraduate degree in education at Pacific Lutheran University.
She served on the Suquamish Tribal Council and is believed to be the first enrolled Native American elected to non-Tribal public office in Kitsap County. Naomi Evans, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was elected to the Bremerton School Board in 2015. (Marie Hebert, Port Gamble S’Klallam, was appointed to a North Kitsap School Board vacancy and served in 2000-01.)
Webb, a school board member since 2011, submitted his resignation to board President Beth Worthington, citing “a significant increase in work commitments.” He is a video game developer.
“During his service, I have appreciated his ability to quickly assimilate information and come to a decision that is best for students,” Worthington said in the district’s announcement of Webb’s resignation. “We wish Bill the best in his future career and business endeavors and appreciate that he volunteered his time for the benefit of our community and its students.”
During his six years on the board, Webb and other school board members worked to stabilize the district’s finances, closed Breidablik Elementary School, and grappled with the fallout from failures to notify parents in a timely manner about emergencies or other issues, such as sexual activity on a bus for students with special needs. Webb was involved in the hiring of two superintendents. He also served as board president from 2014-15.
During his tenure, the district’s financial condition stabilized. And this year, Kingston High School was ranked 23rd, and North Kitsap High School was ranked 27th, in Washington state in U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 list of the nation’s best high schools. The rankings were based on college readiness, math and English proficiency, and Advanced Placement test results.
“When I got on the board, I thought it would be relatively smooth sailing,” Webster-Martinson said. “The district had come out of a bad situation” — budgetary challenges, the closure of Breidablik Elementary — “and then all kinds of things happened. I’m proud of the way the board has persevered and I’m really happy with the new superintendent. It’s working out wonderfully.”
She said school board service has been personally and professionally “fulfilling.”
“I’m glad to get that experience,” she said. “The school board association offers so much professional development and I’ve enjoyed every bit of it and the opportunity to work with other directors in the state.”
She said having Native representation in elected office is important, particularly in a school district that is within Suquamish and S’Klallam territories. In 2016-17, American Indians/Alaska Natives comprised the third-largest student demographic, after Hispanics and whites. “It’s critical that teachers on up — everybody — reflect the students that we teach,” she said.
School board members are elected to four-year terms and are not compensated. They set policies, adopt the budget, and direct the superintendent. The school board meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. The district has six elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools.
— Richard Walker is managing editor of the Kitsap News Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org