‘21 Election: SKSD Board of Directors

Candidates weigh in on board conflicts, facilities needs

  • Thursday, October 7, 2021 5:35pm
  • News
.

By Mike De Felice

Special to Kitsap Daily News

PORT ORCHARD – The last 12 months have been a tumultuous period for the South Kitsap School District’s Board of Directors. Wrangling among members over when to have students return to classrooms during the pandemic was just the beginning.

Last spring, board members set their sights on one another, with one member — John Berg — calling for an investigation into alleged improprieties of another — Jeff Daily — and one member seeking a censure resolution aimed at himself — Jeff Daily — for no apparent reason. During the contentious meeting, board member Liz Sebren announced, “We have a dysfunctional school board right now. We need intensive training to help us get over our personalities.”

Despite the drama, candidates lined up to get elected to another term on the school board. A crowded field of 10 contenders signed up to battle for two open spots on the board. After the primary, four candidates remain in the horse race heading into the Nov. 2 general election.

Two positions on the South Kitsap School District school board are up for grabs after Sebren, who represents District 3, and Rebecca Diehl, representing District 4, decided against running for reelection. Directors are elected to four-year terms.

SKSD BOARD OF DIRECTORS, SEAT 3

Brian Pickard

Pickard

Pickard

Brian Pickard began working at the South Kitsap School District in 1987 as assistant principal at Orchard Heights Elementary. Next, he become principal of South Colby Elementary, where he remained for 23 years. He then became the SKSD’s executive director of schools and family support before retiring in 2018.

Pickard has been on the board of the Elementary School Principals Association of Washington. Currently, he serves on the board of South Kitsap Helpline. Pickard’s two children attended South Kitsap schools and graduated from SKHS.

He has been endorsed by state Senator Emily Randle of the 26th Legislative District, Young Democrats of Kitsap County, Democratic Women of Kitsap County, the 26th Legislative District Group, South Kitsap School Supporters, and SKEA and WEA, the local and statewide teacher unions.

The Independent asked the candidates three questions relevant to their campaign. Here are their answers:

The school board has faced questions about whether it has been effective working together to solve issues facing the school district. How do you view the board’s effectiveness and ability to work together? What would you do as a board member to enhance its effectiveness?

The board’s cohesiveness has not been good. My leadership style has always been one to listen first and to seek understanding of the issues at hand. When you listen to seek understanding, most will see you really do care about their concerns. By being respectful and truly caring about others and their opinions, even if different that your own, good quality solutions can be achieved. It’s unfortunate multiple issues in our district have become so politicized. Much of it really isn’t part of the issues, adding to frustrations and clouding potential solutions. With some, it becomes personal, making things that much more difficult. We must get back to respecting and listening to each other. It helps when starting discussions with others of different opinions and thoughts by identifying common ground and then working from this perspective. The desire to provide the very best for the child(ren) should be the board’s focus.

What do you believe is SKSD’s most pressing issue in 2021 — and beyond?

Meeting student needs. In a changing world, how we provide learning experiences for our children is priority one. College bound, apprenticeship programs, work force ready, continued focus of STEM/STEAM, all are components. Continued focus in these areas should be our top priority.

COVID-19 masks, promoting vaccinations, how best to keep students and staff safe in a varying opinioned community.

Trust: Rebuilding trust by listening and striving to understand different points of views. Building stronger relationships among the board, staff, parents, students and community members.

Facilities: Our newest facilities are 30-plus years old and many need significant remodeling or replacement to be brought up to current safety and educational standards. The overcrowding issue needs additional focus.

Financial: There is a high cost for many issues. We need to prioritize and find ways to be fiscally responsible along with providing additional resources for student needs.

Do you think SKSD, led by Superintendent Tim Winter, is on the right track in optimizing educational instruction for students?

Yes, but he needs help and support. The support needs to come from the district staff, the community, and the board. The support does not mean that we all agree 100% of the time. That’s not a healthy thriving organization. The ability to disagree with respect is critical. Quality decisions and leadership require diverse ideas and individuals able to present their ideas and solutions to issues without fear of being put down. To quote author Shelby Foote, “Our [Americans] true genius is we compromise. Our whole government was founded on it.” In many ways, we as Americans are not currently living up to it and we need to get better. Superintendent Winter and the board with their “Destination Top Five” plan is very much on the right track. I look forward to supporting it.

What unique strength or ability would you bring to the board?

My nearly four decades of experience with South Kitsap School District and Washington state public schools gives me a unique perspective and skill set that no other candidate or current board member can offer. Starting as a grade school teacher and working hard to become a principal and then district level administrator, I’ve tackled most challenges from every level. In addition, I have varied and extensive leadership experiences serving on local, state, national and global boards. I am currently a board member and past president of SK Helpline Food Bank. I served in all leadership positions with the state principals association including federal relations liaison where I advocated directly with the U.S. Congress for children and public schools in Washington. I am currently on the Point Hope Board, a global organization supporting health and the well-being of children. My life’s work has been dedicated to education and support for our youth.

Anna Schroeder

Schroeder

Schroeder

Anna Schroeder is a lifelong resident of Port Orchard and a neurotrauma ICU nurse at Tacoma’s St. Joseph Medical Center.

She has two children attending local schools. Her husband is a teacher for the district. As the only woman running for election, Schroeder believes she would bring the perspective of a working mother, with kids in the school system, to the school board.

She is involved in music and has volunteered with the Bremerton Symphony. She has played with the Kitsap Opera. Schroeder has two bachelor’s degrees, one she earned online in 2020 and another in music performance, theory and composition from Eastern Washington University. She also completed her associate degree in nursing at Olympic College.

The school board has faced questions about whether it has been effective working together to solve issues facing the school district. How do you view the board’s effectiveness and ability to work together? What would you do as a board member to enhance its effectiveness?

The current school board does not work together well. The very obvious in-fighting and biases have derailed the board’s purpose and sown mistrust and discontent. I have no patience for that sort of nonsense. My job as a director will be to address the community’s needs efficiently and professionally. My personal opinion means little other than the expertise I can bring as a mother and an RN. I will seek out the recommendations of those experienced in the decisions I face. This includes teachers, staff, parents, health and community leaders.

What do you believe is SKSD’s most pressing issue in 2021 — and beyond?

The most pressing issue this year is rebuilding the trust and confidence of the community in their school board. Without this, the district cannot move forward with our goals. We need the cooperation and support of the community and district staff to achieve make decisions and solve problems.

Do you think SKSD, led by Superintendent Tim Winter, is on the right track in optimizing educational instruction for students?

I have appreciated Mr. Winter’s leadership in past years, though I was disappointed with some of the choices he and others made throughout the 20-21 school year. I do recognize that conflicting demands and state directives have driven some of these decisions. I hope we can move forward from this with a better sense of the value our schools have in our communities and support them in achieving their education goals.

What unique strength or ability would you bring to the board?

As an ICU RN, I oversee complex medical and nursing care for critically ill patients. This requires me to work with various teams, all with their own goals and needs. It is the nurse’s responsibility to keep the patient at the center of the conversation, to ensure that what is best for the individual’s physical, mental and emotional health is always considered above all else. I will bring this focus to the school board, as I want our children’s well-being to be the best it can be.

SKSD BOARD OF DIRECTORS, SEAT 4

Jeffrey “Jefé” Wilson

Wilson

Wilson

Jeffrey “Jefé” Wilson works at Boeing as a senior executive advisor. He is an organizational psychologist and earned his doctorate in organizational psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. He was an adjunct professor at the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University.

Wilson attended South Kitsap schools and graduated from SKHS. His wife teaches at Olalla Elementary. Wilson has four children, two of whom currently attend South Kitsap schools, and the other two have graduated college.

Wilson has been endorsed by the Washington Education Association PAC, a state teachers union; South Kitsap Education Association; and Port Orchard Mayor Rob Putaansuu. He has been approved by Kitsap County Democratic Women, and the Kitsap County Democrats.

The school board has faced questions about whether it has been effective working together to solve issues facing the school district. How do you view the board’s effectiveness and ability to work together? What would you do as a board member to enhance its effectiveness?

The board’s ineffectiveness has been obvious to anyone who has attended a meeting or picked up a newspaper over the last couple of years. There has been a lot of squabbling and very little focus on what is best for our students. However, I’d wager that it’s not a lack of ability but rather a lack of willingness to work together that has been on display. While I applaud the board’s recent efforts on teaming, I highly doubt that much will change until the voters act to remove and/or replace board member(s) who continue to push their divisive political agendas on what is supposed to be a non-partisan school board. For my part, I intend to collaborate with my fellow board members to ensure better student achievement, fully fund our teachers and curriculum, and ensure that our facilities will support our growing community.

What do you believe is SKSD’s most pressing issue in 2021 — and beyond?

This school year, we need to continue to ensure that the schools provide an open, safe and inclusive environment. This would enable our students (and their teachers) to regain the ground they lost last year, build student knowledge and skills, and continue their educational journey in joining the work force, the military or their chosen college. Additionally, the board needs to finally address the need to modernize our teaching facilities and get a school bond/levy package on the ballot that the SK community can rally behind. We need SK schools that are on par with our neighbors in Gig Harbor and Silverdale, and stop accepting “good enough for SK” when it’s clearly not. We owe it to our community to have school facilities, teachers and curriculum we can be proud of, that give our progeny the best chance of success in the classroom so that they can go take on the world.

Do you think SKSD, led by Superintendent Tim Winter, is on the right track in optimizing educational instruction for students?

Considering the situation we still find ourselves in, I think that Mr. Winter has done a good job at delivering equitable solutions for our students in SK. That being said, I think that the board should set high standards for student achievement and sound policy for the district. Once set, the board should ensure that they hold the superintendent accountable for turning those policies into solid operational performance. What our (or any) superintendent does NOT need is for board members to interfere in operational matters or attempt to micromanage through cumbersome policy requirements for administrators and/or teachers. We need to see how Mr. Winter gets us through this challenging 2021-2022 school year, and next year’s hopefully more normal one, before we make any final judgements about SK’s leadership. Mr. Winter deserves a chance to lead with the guidance of the school board.

What unique strength or ability would you bring to the board?

As an organizational psychologist with over 25 years of business experience, I have worked with people at all levels and in many industries across the country. I have faced a lot of difficult and sometimes outright hostile situations where I have had to use my interpersonal skills to balance the needs of disparate groups and get the people in them to pull in the same direction for the common good. My greatest strength is the ability to listen, connect and collaborate with people to get them to accept and embrace change. This is the kind of positive change that moves an organization like SK schools forward to achieve true greatness. As your SK board director, it would be my duty to partner with my fellow board members and represent our community so that we can provide the learning environment and resources — schools, teachers and curriculum — necessary for unparalleled student achievement.

Gregg Anderson

Anderson

Anderson

Gregg Anderson is a 15-year resident of Kitsap County. Anderson has been employed as a Department of Defense contractor employee since 2018. Before that, he attended welding school at Olympic College in Bremerton, worked for four years as a drier tender at a plywood mill in Shelton and did information technology (IT) work at two companies, including making custom programs for individuals with an anti-virus company in Poulsbo.

His wife is a 911 dispatcher in Pierce County and former graduate of South Kitsap High School. All four of Anderson’s children have attended South Kitsap schools — two have graduated and two currently attend Marcus Whitman Middle School. He earned an associate’s degree in welding at Olympic College.

The school board has faced questions about whether it has been effective working together to solve issues facing the school district. How do you view the board’s effectiveness and ability to work together? What would you do as a board member to enhance its effectiveness?

From my understanding, there is a major rift within the school board, which in my opinion hampers its effectiveness. What I would try to do is limit the number of things that don’t really have much to do with the district in lieu of more important matters in regards to the schools themselves.

What do you believe is SKSD’s most pressing issue in 2021 — and beyond?

I think the most pressing issue is the facilities. Not just the high school situation, but an upgrade/renovation of existing facilities.

Do you think SKSD, led by Superintendent Tim Winter, is on the right track in optimizing educational instruction for students?

I think they are doing the best they can, but especially the last 18 months have been trying.

What unique strength or ability would you bring to the board?

I believe that my critical thinking, and the ability to view both sides before making a decision, would be a welcome addition.

More in News

.
Update: Suspect confesses to killing Port Orchard man during botched pot deal

19-year-old dealer shot during scuffle at South Kitsap parking lot

.
19-year-old admits to killing Port Orchard man

Gig Harbor man turns himself in and is booked on first-degree murder. Another suspect is also booked.

Map view of Strickland property. Courtesy photo
City of Poulsbo looking to buy resident’s property next to PERC site

Ellen Strickland wants to sell her property to city instead of developers

.
Towne Square’s new ownership has big plans for reimagined mall

Klein, Fenner see a remix of restaurants, retail in refurbished property

.
Survey about NKSD: Quality good, COVID not

A majority of respondents to a survey about the North Kitsap School… Continue reading

.
Bremerton retiree donates $250,000 each to four Kitsap nonprofits

Donor gives $1.875 million in total to seven groups serving the environment, arts and children

.
Proposition 2 seeks to upgrade Kitsap 911’s emergency communications system

A 1/10th of 1 percent sales tax increase would pay for $41 million modernization

A volunteer helps pick up trash as part of Puget Soundkeeper’s Poulsbo cleanup. Tyler Shuey/North Kitsap Herald photos
Puget Soundkeeper holds cleanup events in Kitsap

Seattle-based water quality advocacy group looking to expand footprint

Most Read