Thursday, March 15, 2007

SK Bond Issue Failure

I have to say I'm not surprised the South Kitsap School District (SKSD) bond issue failed — even though it did garner slightly more than 50 percent. While the Port of Bremerton's recent 45¢ per thousand assessment didn't help any, in my view, the supporters just didn't address significant questions from the community in the direct manner necessary to convince voters to open their checkbooks.

Some examples...
• When you look at the Port Orchard/South Kitsap portion of the county's proposed comprehensive plan, you see the Urban Growth Area (UGA) boundaries extending between Sedgwick Rd. and Mullinex Rd. along Phillips. That's a huge chunk of ground expected to accommodate at least as many new residents as the McCormick Woods area. Yet nothing in the SKSD plan addressed this. When supporters were asked specifically about it, they didn't have an answer.

• One very real concern of a LOT of residents about the proposed new high school at McCormick Woods was that it would become the "rich kids school" while the current SKHS suffered from benign neglect where things like new books, the best teachers and facility maintenance were concerned. While supporters attempted to convince voters this wouldn't happen, they didn't adequately quell the community's collective fear over this issue.

• Also proposed was rebuilding South Colby Elementary, which is the top performing elementary in the district. Unfortunately, it is also the one with the steepest decline in enrollment projected over the coming years. This simply didn't make sense to a lot of voters.

The SKSD is considering running this bond issue again in November. Even if supporters do address community concerns adequately, will the Kitsap Regional Library (KRL) levy lift, which will be asking the voters for more money March, have an impact on the chances of success this fall? While KRL has demonstrated a need for additional funding and hasn't come to the voters in a couple of decades, there's just so much additional taxation property owners can afford.

Also looming on the horizon is the possibility of the county commission deciding to fund it's projected shortfall by exceeding the one percent annual property tax increase mandated by I-747, now that a King County judge decided none of us who voted for that understood what it was we were voting on, and threw it out. That would be a serious mistake by the commissioners, but that's another issue for another time.


  1. Anonymous8:59 PM

    More taxes are coming and the
    first blush of a real revolt is
    in the wind, blowing up from
    South Kitsap.

    The commissioners seem to be
    the only ones not aware that
    county government faces serious shortfalls and they dump another $50,000 into the EDC+KRCC
    pile of bureaucrats, and then fly
    to DC.

    Stay home. Quit all the fancy
    committees, associations of whatevers, knock off the panolply and sit down and write a sensible
    plan that addresses these shortfalls and not tax us to the limit.

    Right on: the Port did get their hand
    into our pockets and it may be the last big grab.

    Is it just me, or is the Port's
    new Bremerton marina another
    stadium in disquise? It's hardly
    a public facility when it will be
    locked unless you have a boat.

    The tax and spenders may
    not have their way with us again.

  2. Where did you get your information about the projected enrollment of South Colby Elementary School?

    On page 62 of the demographic study done for SKSD, the "medium growth" projection shows a decline from the actual Oct. 2005 headcount (the most recent available when the study was done late in 2005) of 26 pupils -- from 492 in Oct. 2005 to 466 in Oct. 2012. That would be a deline of 5.28 percent.

    On that same page is Olalla Elementary School, which was projected to decline from 380 in Oct. 2005 to 342 in Oct. 2012. That would be a decline of 38 students -- or 10 percent, which would clearly be greater than the decline at South Colby.

    Burley Glenwood was projected to have a decline of 26 as well, for a 4.99 percent decline -- not much different from South Colby.

    More important, I wonder what point you wish to make.

    Right now, we have some extra capacity in our elementary schools (including the many "portable" classroom buildings erected over the past years) to accommodate the 450-500 pupils who would otherwise attend South Colby while that school is demolished and rebuilt.

    In a few years, that extra capacity won't exist.

    Right now, South Colby needs to be replaced because of the unacceptable condition of its facilities.

    In the future, we will need the capacity a new school would provide -- rather than using the old structure now in place along with the many "portables" put there over the years.

    What would you do about South Colby, and when would you do it?

    You raise a question about the UGA extending out along Phillips Road, but what is your suggestion? The demographic report doesn't indicate the growth up to 2012 would affect schools in that area, so far as I can tell. Do you have other information? Are you suggesting that another elementary is needed out there, and, if so, when do you suggest it needs to be built?

    You point out that some people fear the new high school would be for "rich kids," yet the nearby elementary schools all have high proportions of children from low-income families. Where do you think the "rich kids" would come from to fill up the new school?

    Assuming for the sake of discussion that such fears have any basis in reality, what do you suggest as a solution to this fear that a district with two high schools would treat one better than the other?

    I would like to see an open enrollment policy to the greatest extent possible, so that students could choose which high school they want to attend. It may require something like a "lottery" if too many want to enter one school, but that could be worked out.

    My suggestion isn't based on any fear that one school would be treated better than the other, but it would make such a thing virtually impossible since students could "vote with their feet" and go to the better school.

    Instead, my suggestion is based on personal experience in a place that allowed students to choose freely among the few available high schools. Over the years, the students sorted themselves out. Those of us intending to go to college knew to go to "City High," where virtually the entire student body had the same goals and aspirations to pursue academic studies. Those who had no intention of going to college chose the school that focused on vocational education. Those who were unsure chose the large "Central High" that offered a broad spectrum of courses to its large student body.

    To me, each school's student body ought to be allowed to develop its own character, rather than trying to deny the freedom to go to the school of one's choice.

    What is your suggestion?

    Notice that I keep asking what you propose, since that is the important thing to discuss now. You can ask your questions and point out your doubts till the cows come home, but finding solutions requires identifying the possible options and then choosing what appears to be the best.

  3. Micajah,

    I'd like to be able to communicate with you directly, primarily over some issues you've raised about blog formatting — and a couple of other things as well. Clicking your name just brings me to your blog, and while I was going to leave a comment there, it looks like the comments are unmoderated, so I wasn't sure that was the appropriate place to contact you.

    My email is biznews at wetapple dot com. Drop me a note with contact information, or a phone number if you want to chat in person.