Central Kitsap School Superintendent Hazel Bauman told members of the CK Community Council last week that the district could face layoffs if the proposed 2014 operational levy doesn’t pass.
“The levy that we’ll be voting on represents about 20 percent of our school district’s annual budget,” Bauman said. “Without it, we would be in trouble. We would have to make significant reductions somewhere and that could include teachers.”
Bauman spoke last week at a meeting of the Central Kitsap Community Council. Bauman said she and school board members will be taking their “dog and pony show” on the road, including a video, from now until election day Feb. 11, to educate the public about the need for the levy to pass.
She said it replaces a current levy that will end at the end of 2014. If the new levy passes the property tax rate will be around $3.43 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on residences in the Central Kitsap School District boundaries.
That equates to a bit more than $840 that the person who owns a house assessed at $245,000 for property tax purposes now pays.
“The current rate is at $3.70, but will drop in 2014 to $3.23,” she said. That drop comes because the current school board opted not to continue with a temporary increase that was in place for just 2013.
So, if the new levy passes, the jump for taxpayers will be from $3.23 to $3.43. David McVicker, assistant superintendent for business and financial services, also spoke and said the district has had to reduce its budget $15 million over the last five years.
“With the help of some extra dollars from the state, the budget we just passed was the first that wasn’t negative,” he said. “Our budget is $113 million, and of that, $9 million is just what it costs us to pay the bills and meet payroll.”
Due to a lack of money, the district has not added any new curriculum in the past five years, he said.
“Kids are using books that are 20 years old,” he said. “And we have technology that needs to be updated. That 20 percent of our budget that comes from the levy — from the local community — is very important.”
He also pointed out that there are some great facility needs in the district,
“Most of our buildings have not been modernized in the past 20 years,” he said. “We have some HVAC systems that are so old we can’t get parts for them any longer.”
In the 1980s, the district received federal funding to offset the impact of all the new students moving to the area when Bangor opened. He said at that time, schools were added and upgraded. But since then, maintenance needs have been ignored.
“If we can show that our local taxpayers are willing to do their share, by passing this levy, then there is matching dollars available from the state,” McVicker said.
He said it looked promising that the district would get back some federal heavy impact aid that was lost when the definition of who gets that aid was changed. That money is given to school district that have a significant amount of non-taxed military property in their district.
If the district gets back aid, it will be devoted to maintenance issues, he added.
Bauman said the district is getting ready to move 9th graders into the high schools beginning in the fall of 2014. She said just where to educate 6th graders, is still being discussed.
“That’s been a bit more controversial,” she said. “Studying that one a bit more just makes sense.”
She said the district has 10,400 students in 20 schools. It serves 1,600 school breakfasts and 5,000 school lunches daily. About 40 percent of the district’s students are considered poor and qualify for free or reduced cost meals.
She said the district uses 1,000 gallons of fuel every day to transport students to and from school.
“We call these things our wrap-around services,” she said. “School districts today have to take care of the educational, the social and the physical needs of students.”
She also bragged about the district’s Advanced Placement classes and said CK students make up 15 percent of the number of AP tests taken in the state. She thinks adding new student curriculum and more opportunities for professional (teacher) development is needed.
“Our teachers have to know the latest and greatest” she said.
David Biel, spokesman for the district, said the video about the levy was made “in-house” and cost “only staff time” to produce. He said, about $3,000 has been spent on informational materials about the levy.
“It’s the school district’s obligation to inform the public about the levy,” he said.
Following Bauman, Tim Knapp, of the Silverdale Water District, spoke about the Bucklin Hill project to replace water pipes under area streets including Silverdale Way, Kitsap Mall Boulevard. He said he knows it’s not been an easy thing for retailers and drivers in the area to negotiate, but that it had to be done.
“I’d rather be doing it now, than after some seismic incident (earthquake) when we’d have the entire area shut down day and night,” Knapp said.
A portion of the project will be finished prior to June 2014 when the section on Anderson Hill Road will be done.
“That has to happen while school is out, because of the traffic,” he said.
During that time there will be detour routes that will split traffic in a number of directions and he said the traffic along Silverdale Way will improve.
“When you scatters the cars, traffic actually improves,” he said.
He told one council member the cold patch process leaves the roadway on Silverdale Way uneven.
“With cold patch, they’re pliable,” he said. “So as traffic drives over it, it packs down so it’s not flush with the road. We’ve tried several things, but it doesn’t bond.”
He said they have to cover the cold patch with permanent asphalt in large batches, 400 tons, so it can only be done when they know they have a large area to finish, and when it’s warm enough.