SKSD candidates debate bond, diversity

South Kitsap School Board’s District 2 and 5 candidates debated over a couple of topics at a July 13 forum.

Many topics saw different points of view, but the two that drew the most separation were the $271 million bond and diversity and inclusion.

SK voters last approved a school bond 32 years ago and will have another opportunity in November. The $271 million over 21 years would replace five schools, eliminate 43 portables, renovate the West Wing at South Kitsap High School and make improvements districtwide.

If the bond passes, the rate would be $2.86 per $1,000 in assessed property valuation. On a $400,000 home, that would equal $1,144 a year.

“I do not support the bond as written,” District 5 candidate Rhonda Edwards said. “I do not feel that it meets the needs of the public. I think we should be consolidating some of the elementary schools.” Edwards added she would like the bond to be rewritten, and Allah Elementary School should be merged instead of rebuilt.

District 5 candidate Jay Villars favors the other side. “It’s a great package that allows us for repairs and to rebuild for all parts of our community and all different schools. By putting out this bond, we can get a lot of needed pieces for all over the district that can give these resources.”

District 2 candidate Glen Goddard was on board with the bond. “I’ve seen in talking with my fellow community members that the high school request has been on the ballot almost every time,” Goddard said. “People are sick of it. The community is fed up with constantly saying no to the high school. And I think the board actually did a good thing and changed the scope.”

District 2 candidate Megan Higgins was stuck in the middle when the measure first arrived. However, she became in favor after the board assessed which schools need the most work and decided to take action on those schools.

The diversity and inclusion question had a variety of answers based on thoughts and experiences.

District 2 incumbent John Berg reads equity based on the district’s words. “The way it’s outlined in this district, it is equity of opportunity, not equity of outcome. Some people are arguing that everybody should have an equal level of success and that’s not the district policy.”

As for diversity, Berg is down the middle of the road. “We need exposure to all,” Berg said. “But that doesn’t mean that we need to force acceptance. If I choose not to drink, I don’t have to go to bars because I don’t wanna associate with those people. Inclusion is simply being fair to everybody.”

Higgins believes SK can always push for more diversity and inclusion because of the diverse world students live in.

Goddard ended the debate on inclusion with two different mindsets as well. “A lot of people do misinterpret that,” Goddard said. “Equal outcome is what some individuals are pushing for and that does not do anyone any good.

“The issue I have with the most is inclusion. From personal experience, we have a problem with inclusion in our district. My oldest is wheelchair-bound. We have fought at every school in order to just get him simple access into the buildings.”