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Perkins, Watkins square off in final Eggs and Issues
The final primary election edition of the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Issues forums was Tuesday, but not all of the candidates for Position 5 of the Bremerton School District’s Board of Directors showed up on time or at all.
Hosted at 7:30 a.m. at the Cloverleaf Bar and Grill, the morning started with only one candidate in attendance, Carolynn Perkins. She was later joined by Kent Watkins, who arrived just before 8 a.m., but Ruben Garcia failed to make it at all.
The two candidates present took questions from the small crowd, which included the likes of mayoral candidate Daryl Daugs and city councilman Brad Gehring.
The first task asked of the campaigners: define the role of a school board member.
Perkins said the school board was to be “the voice of the people.” She said members should be experienced and understand how to work on budgets.
Watkins said the board is there to provide administrative functions such as budgets and oversights, but members also need to have the creativity to handle changes that come about.
Daugs, known to ask questions about partnerships between the school district and the Kitsap Pumas soccer club, asked both for their take on the Pumas’ idea to redevelop the old East High location on Wheaton Way into a soccer stadium.
Perkins said the idea is worthy of study and discussion, but she is against it at the present time.
“I don’t believe it is the best use of school monies at this time,” she said.
Watkins was not familiar with the idea, but agreed it should be considered and a plan developed.
As for the unavoidable question of the district’s budget, both candidates agree cuts should be a last resort.
“Once you cut a program, it is hard to get it back,” Perkins said. All programs serve a purpose to students, she added.
Watkins referenced extracurriculars and suggested they resulted in more well-rounded people.
“Imagine a world with just reading, writing and math,” he said.
Both candidates also are in favor of a collaboration between schools and private businesses.
Perkins said collaboration is “absolutely necessary” and although the budget looks bad now, it could be much worse in two years.
Watkins agreed the board would need to look at ideas it has not looked at before to solve a lot of its financial woes.
Though both agree the budget is priority one, they realize there are many other challenges the board will need to deal with in the coming years.
“We need to improve communication,” Perkins said. “Our schools are great and we need to do a better job of letting people know.”
“We have a great superintendent,” Watkins said. “But we need to regain the trust of the people.”