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CKSD parents call for smaller class sizes
"Although turnout for last week's Initiative 728 public hearings was low, Central Ktisap School District officials were not disappointed in the quantity of input about what to do with the mandate's funds.I'm not surprised at the low turnout, district spokeswoman Jeanie Schulze said of the April 11 hearings. The survey gave lots of people an opportunity to express opinions before the meeting. I think that's why the turnout was small.I-728, the Student Achievement Initiative, was passed in November 2000 by 72 percent of Washington voters. The initiative provides new funds to target six educational areas: reducing class sizes in grades K-4; making selected class size reduction in grades 5-12; providing additional learning opportunities for educators; providing early assistance for pre-kindergarten children; and providing improvements or additions to school buildings facilities directly related to the initiative.Most of the 340 Central Kitsap residents who responded to a district survey on I-728 funds supported using the money to reduce class sizes. However, there were a few surprises.There didn't appear to be great support for teacher educational enrichment, reported Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Steve Chappuis. He said state Legislature might eliminate an existing program which helps fund continuing education for teachers, so the district might decide to direct some I-728 to that purpose.Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Gary Powell estimated that the district would have to spend $100,000 to reduce class sizes by an average of one student. Several surveys also called for using the funds to extend the school day, even though Chappuis said the survey didn't make it easy for parents to select that option.If I was a parent or teacher who supported an extended learning day, I might have had trouble finding it on the survey because of confusing language, Chappuis said. Many respondents wrote this suggestion in the comment field of the survey, he said.One community member who spoke at the hearing, Sari Perlow, said she was in favor of providing a full summer school program instead of extending their already rigorous school-year schedule.Almost 50 percent of our kids have part-time jobs, Perlow said. When I hear about kids who fall asleep driving to school I don't feel like extending their day.John Burch said there was no use extending the learning day unless the new schedule aligns with school transportation.My plea is for an after-hours bus to pick up athletes and kids in extended learning programs, he said. Administrators will present their I-728 proposal to the school board April 25, but the district won't know how much funding it will receive until the Legislature adjourns. "