CKSD levy passes, still considers cutting costs

The Central Kitsap School District narrowly avoided a second levy failure this year, its three-year educational enrichment programs and operations levy winning by just 129 votes.

Over 1,000 more voters turned in ballots for the April 23 special election—a total of 18,131. A similar margin of 138 votes separated the two sides two months ago, when those against the levy measure made up the simple majority of 50.41%.

Those against the measure managed a slim lead on Election Night, but those in favor quickly moved in front and never looked back.

Despite the passage, CKSD will face a money shortfall due to declining enrollment and other factors.

However, superintendent Erin Prince was happy about the levy passing, saying in a written statement: “We’re truly grateful for the ongoing support our community has shown for our students by approving the school support levy replacement. Thanks to this support, we are able to provide a variety of student supports, our schools and grounds are clean, safe, and welcoming, and all students have the chance to benefit from after-school clubs, music and sports.”

The levy will begin in 2025, replacing a two-year EP&O levy that expires at the end of this year. That levy was passed in 2022 and also needed a second special election to capture simple majority approval.

The new levy is expected to collect $21 million in 2025, $22 million in 2026 and $23 million in 2027 from property owners at an estimated rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. On a $400,000 home that would be $600 a year.

While the measure’s passing kept the district from needing to address what would have been a nearly $30 million gap in funding, CKSD is still considering options to address $7 million in budget reductions into the next school year due to declining enrollment, unbudgeted commitments and discontinued COVID-era federal funding.

A hiring and spending freeze and reductions to professional learning and activities that required travel were all implemented this year, CKSD says in a Feb 28 statement provided by district spokesman David Beil.

The statement reads, “We are prioritizing reductions at the district level to shield our schools from direct impacts as much as possible. We are working to achieve these reductions without resorting to a Reduction-In-Force (RIF) or layoffs. However, this work could result in staff re-assignments.”

Adjustments for the 2024-25 school year are expected to include the closure of the Jenne-Wright Building and adjustments to a number of staffing models, including custodial staffing through attrition and library staffing. The district is also considering ending contracts with AVID, WEB/Link and Imagine Learning.