Challenger Kitchens touts years of administrative experience

When Doug Kitchens learned the Central Kitsap School District had a budget of more than $90 million, he saw an opportunity to put his skills to work for a community cause.

“When I ask people what they want in school board members they say they want managers — people with good practical experience with the budgeting process,” Kitchens said.

Kitchens has worked in senior management for several large corporations, and he once helped the U.S. negotiate a free-trade agreement with Mexico.

“I’ve prepared budgets and had to live within them. I’ve dealt with staffing problems and with the hiring and a management of employees,” Kitchens said.

Now a realtor, Kitchens originally comes from Georgia.

“I grew up in the south, so I’m bilingual,” he joked.

He attended Georgia State University and Wofford College and studied business and marketing, but he did not earn a degree.

Kitchens first came to Washington in 1978, and he returned in 1990 after he overcame skin cancer. He volunteered at the Harrison Hospital cancer ward and served as president of the Poulsbo Sportsman’s Club. He said he has not yet attended a Central Kitsap School Board meeting.

“I’ve been involved in the community wherever I’ve lived, and I feel it’s important to give back,” Kitchens said.

A possible recession is one of the biggest challenges the district will face in coming years, Kitchens said. In that environment, schools must work to hire and retain high-quality teachers and keep class sizes small with fewer resources.

If elected, he said his goals will be to boost parental involvement in schools, examine whether Kitsap County school districts would be more efficient if they were consolidated, and to boost student pride.

As for the district’s upcoming maintenance and operations levy he said, “The core of my belief is that you need to look at things on a regular basis. To pass (a levy) you need to convince the community the money is being well spent.”

He said the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) is good because it forces schools to analyze what they are doing, and it ultimately will result in better education.

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