Opinion

Everything Bremerton: Schools need citizens

The perfect storm of education funding shortfalls, underfunded pension payments that are coming due and crippling unfunded mandates already in place has been brewing for quite some time now at the federal, state and local level. The Bremerton School District and Central Kitsap School District have started much earlier this year in their advertisement and recruitment of citizens to serve on their finance committees. Both districts are in desperate need of citizen voices and perspectives on key educational funding issues and future operations.

As I head into my third year of service on the Bremerton Finance Committee, I can tell you it is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. It is endless hours of meetings and personal research time to learn the complex system of rules and regulations that guide or control more than 80 percent of the money in the average district budget. Up until this year, school district citizen committees were formed simply as lip service that fulfilled, at the superficial level, a requirement or promise to the community to include citizen involvement. This is not the case anymore. It simply cannot be. School districts are up against a bubble that is about to burst. The easy, cost-cutting ideas and low-hanging fruit solutions have already been eaten up and are long gone. Hard, unpopular core function cuts are coming. They can no longer be put off or avoided.

To make sure the cuts and reductions head in the direction that the community wants to see for their kids, their schools and their tax dollars, a much larger active group of interested and involved participants must step up and have a seat at the table. One or two non-district employees like me can be dismissed by administration and school board members as an anomaly or not completely representative of the overall community opinion. Ten to 20 people could not and would not be dismissed.

If you reside within either the Bremerton School District or the Central Kitsap School District, contact the district office and request information on how to apply for a position on their Citizen Finance Committee. The children of our community need you to be an independent voice for them, voices that do not rely on the current education system for their livelihood, possible career advancement or elected position. This service to your school system and the community will cost you nothing but your time and dedication. Is that really too much to ask? Please help.

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