Letters to the Editor

Support schools

To the editor:

The South Kitsap School District bond Nov. 7 is simply the most well-researched comprehensive plan for updating and modernizing our facilities we’ve seen in decades.

Spending 16 months and over 40 meetings, visiting every building in the district, a citizen committee examined everything from how portables are used to impacts of out-of-district enrollment. Our district’s facilities needs are substantial with all buildings exceeding 30 years of age. A follow-up committee of different community members further refined the plan, prioritizing the projects outlined in the proposal.

For two decades our community has been divided on a second high school, failing by slim margins from 2000 until 2018. Meanwhile, our needs at other buildings have grown. The current bond will replace three schools (Cedar Heights, South Colby and Olalla) and provide permanent facilities for Discovery and Explorer in addition to replacing the oldest part of SKHS with a new building.

The new building will offer space for trades and technology—a vital capability given our need to maintain a technical skill pipeline for national defense. This bond improves safety by eliminating 43 portables, many of which were bought used decades ago.

If passed the tax rate will return to what it was last year, which was the last year of capitol levy passed in 2018. The district has delivered on the projects that this levy funded; completing renovation of the pool, two middle school tracks, and substantial safety and security improvements districtwide.

Vote “yes” for schools.

Gerry Austin

Port Orchard

Bond too big

To the editor:

The facilities and infrastructure in the South Kitsap School District have issues. That has been apparent for decades. What I want voters to consider is the bond on the Nov. 7 ballot will cost much more than $271 million over the 21 years. The actual amount is over $307.2 million plus interest.

Another issue comes from Resolution 1367, which was presented to the county to put the bond to the voters, signed by four of the five SKSD board members. It states the projects to be accomplished, but Section 3 basically states the board can change the project list and put the funds to other uses they deem more necessary at any time. That includes depositing money into the district’s Debt Service Fund to make payments as needed. The district does not seem to take taxpayers seriously as the board has the ability to change how the money is spent without consulting or engaging with taxpayers and voters.

The SKSD has said the property tax rate will be lower due to a 2018 $21 million capital projects levy expiring in 2022, some of which paid for the high school pool makeover at well above the original budget. We have a voter-approved enhancement levy from 2021 that expires in 2025 so odds are we will see another one. “Enhancement” levies and capital levies have a lower threshold of 50% plus one to pass vs. the 60% plus one for long-term capital bonds. There will also be additional bonds and levies over the 21 years. Do you trust the SKSD board to be fiscally responsible?

Roger Gay

South Kitsap

New blood needed

To the editor:

The November election contains several issues that folks need to consider. Your informed vote is important.

There is no lack of controversial issues. The ballot will have school board elections and a bond issue.

The South Kitsap School District has three director seats up for election. Generally, school boards come in two flavors. One is where all board members get along, think the same way, vote the same way and rubberstamp district desires. Why was there little progress for over 30 years in academic excellence and providing a better product? Groupthink doesn’t work.

The second is a board where all folks don’t think alike but work to agree on the direction and the performance of the district. Dissenting opinions are a counter to groupthink vs. a liability.

Three candidates to consider are Rhonda Edwards, John Schmel and Jamie Cross. All are local business people experienced in our community and longtime residents. Each has individual opinions and solutions on how to approach the district with a business-type attitude and solve problems. Each can work with others to solve why only 30% of third-graders are able to meet reading and math standards along with district financial issues.

As for the bond, building four schools given the looming code/ecology issues and declining enrollments will be difficult. Are they worth $459 million ($271 million plus $188 million in interest)? What about cheaper alternatives given the needs of the entire district?

Jeff Daily

Port Orchard