CKSD leaders invite public to discuss finances

Central Kitsap School District (CKSD) Superintendent Greg Lynch believes in the principles of fairness, thoroughness and transparency.

With the district facing the possibility of having to tighten its financial belt even more next year, Lynch wants to make sure the public has the opportunity to be heard.

To that end, the district is hosting a community meeting from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19 at the Jenne-Wright Administration Center gymnasium to inform the public about the funding challenges the district is facing for the 2009-10 school year and the process used to develop a balanced budget as well as allow the public to ask questions about the process.

The Feb. 19 meeting is important because the school funding issue is complex and as the district looks forward to levies and bonds, it’s important to educate the public on how their tax dollars are being used, Lynch said.

“It’s important for them to tell us what’s important to them as we go to make the decisions concerning the budget,” Lynch said.

CKSD Executive Director of Business and Operations David McVicker said he is hesitant to say what the crystal ball surrounding the budget looks like because it will undoubtedly change from one day to the next.

“Let’s let the process work its way out and we will do our best to prevent job loss,” McVicker said.

In the past four years, the district has made numerous cutbacks as it has coped with declining funding and while the closures of two elementary schools in the past few years have helped, the challenge remains difficult, he said.

“We’re going to work to keep as many jobs as possible,” McVicker said.

Lynch noted that during the school closures, employees were reassigned or retired, so no one lost their job, which worked out well for everyone involved.

One area where the district has made significant improvement is in its ability to keep its energy costs steady over the past four years, despite increases in the cost of energy of 7 to 20 percent, McVicker said.

“Three years ago we didn’t replace lighting in gyms because it wasn’t cost-effective, but last year we replaced the lighting in 10 gyms, because it would pay for itself in the savings,” he said.

With fuel prices difficult to accurately estimate, McVicker said the state funding only covers 60 to 65 percent of the district’s transportation costs, so lower gas prices mean less comes out of the district’s pocket.

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