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Superintendent ‘proud’ of CKSD budget plans

It should be no secret at this point that the Central Kitsap School District isn’t exactly sitting pretty in terms of its budget forecast for the next few years. But the message from Superintendent Greg Lynch at Wednesday night’s school board meeting rang clear: Things could be a lot worse.

“I’m very proud of where we are right now,” Lynch said during the advertised “community budget forum” that kicked off the meeting. “We would be in a different place today if we had not done what we’ve done the past few years.”

Lynch and other district employees have often prided themselves on the bigger money-saving decisions that have been made in recent years, such as the closure of Seabeck and Tracyton elementary schools.

The budget forum drew a standing-room-only crowd, though most, as usual, were district employees.

The district reviewed the usual money-eating culprits to its long-range budget planning, such as the trend of declining enrollment and unfunded state and federal mandates, but also noted recent increases in food and fuel prices.

“We really don’t know what the outer limit is on food and fuel inflation,” district director of operations Dirk Gleysteen said.

Later in the night, the board unanimously supported a resolution to increase food prices by 25 cents next school year, in order to curb the increasing expenses.

Some food costs have increased by as much as 28 percent, food services director Sam Blazer said, adding that the number is unprecedented in the course of his career.

The 25-cent increase is actually less than some other districts, which have opted to increase food prices by as much as 50 cents.

Still, there’s no telling what will come of the current food and fuel crisis and Blazer admitted as much.

“It’s a flip of the coin and there’s no end in sight,” he said.

The price increase will not affect food prices for students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Increases in insurance premiums and utility rates also were cited as dings against the budget.

David McVicker, the district’s executive director of business and operations, discussed other budget moves being made to cover the possible loss of federal heavy impact funding next school year.

“We’ll know whether that occurs next year around this time,” McVicker said. “We think we’ve found a way around that.”

How did all this sit with the public in attendance?

The district had advertised the meeting as an opportunity for questions and comments and received two — perhaps not much, but still more than usual.

One woman questioned the district on its meeting practices.

“I have some real concerns about the public process,” she said, adding that she felt the district had already decided on most of what was being discussed prior to the meeting.

She cited a February Department of Natural Resources meeting on the Stavis Natural Resource Conservation Area as a model for how public meetings should be run. That meeting was more or less a brainstorming session between the public and a communication expert contracted by DNR to figure out how the Stavis area should be used.

“I think that’s a more inclusive way to bring the public to the table,” the woman said.

Lynch pointed out the district’s recent public budget meetings and their relatively low attendance.

Another man asked what ordinary citizens could do to help the district in its fight with state and federal legislators to get more funding, to which board member Christy Cathcart suggested he voice his concerns to the legislators themselves.

In other school board news:

• A timeline was set for replacing board member Lee Ann Powers, who recently tendered her resignation to the board. Powers resignation is not related to any problems with the board, she is simply relocating outside the Area V region she represents.

The deadline for applications is 4 p.m. June 3; applicant interviews will begin June 16, which also is the day Powers’ resignation becomes effective; Powers’ replacement will be sworn in at the June 18 school board meeting.

Applications can be picked up at the Jenne-Wright Administration Center or on the district’s Web site, www.cksd.wednet.edu.

• The district recognized its classified and certificated staff members of the year. David Young, a second-grade teacher at Clear Creek Elementary School was named certificated teacher of the year and Nina Morse, a paraeducator at Klahowya Secondary School, was named classified employee of the year.

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