CKSD to take comments on cuts to 2012-2013 programs

The Central Kitsap School District on Aug. 8 will offer the public an opportunity to comment on its current proposed budget before board approval of the plan on Aug. 22.

The current budget has taken shape after a long battle with money in the district which included loss of Heavy Impact Aid to the district but also has seen a shortfall of money change from $6.3 million in early budget projections to the current estimated shortfall amount of $700,000 to $900,000 million.

The current proposed budget includes cuts to programs such as $7,000 from at-risk services and $40,000 from “diversity” services and $40,000 from programs for gifted students. Other proposed budget dissections include cutting $136,000 from curriculum support and $110,000 from the technology budget.

Central Kitsap School District Superintendent Greg Lynch said state law required a public presentation of the budget before final adoption, and said he hoped the public would take the opportunity to comment on the districts use of taxpayer money.

“I think it is important because we have to demonstrate we are being good stewards of the community’s resources,” Lynch aid. “And this is a chance to demonstrate we have been.”

Lynch said he has been through eight such presentations, and the current budget has been an exceptional challenge.

“Last year at this time had you asked me if we could reduce $6.3 million to under a million, I would say it was nearly impossible,” he said. “I am thankful that the budget has been reduced as much as it has.”

David McVicker, district finance director, said staff had made sacrifices in an attempt to ensure students felt the least impact from the cuts.

“Fortunately the reductions are very limited,” he said. “Most of these cuts will not affect students and will be done through attrition with staff.”

Parents, teachers, and board members have expressed concerns about the transparency of communications in the district involving finance and other issues.

JD Sweet, A teacher at Central Kitsap High School since 1977, said he is among those who have been outspoken critics of the communications and the budget process in the past, but said the Aug. 8 meeting is an opportunity for the public to have their voices heard in a more bilateral setting.

“It seems like this meeting will be a little more democratic and interactive,” he said. “People will be able to ask questions and make comments and speak up in support of programs or learn more about cuts in programs. That is the value of this particular meeting.”

Sweet said attendees should be informed on the budget and prepared to ask meaningful questions.

“They have to ask tough questions and maybe be prepared to hear answers they don’t like,” he said. “But at least it is a chance for interaction.”

Central Kitsap School Board member Christy Cathcart said it is important for citizens concerned with the budget to attend the meeting.

“I always like to see people in engaged in what they own, and they own this,” she said. “There are board members and administrators to oversee the budget, but they own it.”

Sweet said the district had faced many challenges this year and this was an opportunity to voice opinions on the way the administration met such challenges.

“They have a tough job, and there have been complaints about transparency,” he said. “If people do not take this opportunity to speak on the budget, that is their fault, it is on them.”


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