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CKSD aims to lower student-teacher ratios

"Although Initiative 728 funds have not been doled out yet by a reluctant Legislature, Central Kitsap School District officials already have an idea of how to spend the money.Spurred by comments from district parents and taxpayers, district officials plan to spend most of the I-728 money next year on reducing class sizes. In 2002-2003, some I-728 funds will go toward staff development.I-728 provides new funds to target five 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. The initiative was supported by 72 percent of Washington voters last fall.The CKSD plan is based on receiving $2.4 million in I-728 funds for the 2001-2002 school year, $2.7 million in 2002-2003 and $4.5 million in 2003-2004. The initiative requires that additional money be devoted to schools for five years, but CKSD Assistant Superintendent Steve Chappuis said planning that far ahead would be futile.For 2001-2002, money would go toward reducing average class sizes in grades five and six. Currently, the average teacher in those grades has 28 students; the district now plans to spend $800,000 to reduce that number to 24. I-728 funds next year also would be used to expand summer school in core subjects ($276,000); reduce for seventh-grade reading, and seventh- through tenth-grade English and math class sizes ($828,000); and reducing the number of multi-grade classes in elementary schools. The fifth and sixth grade class size reductions would require hiring 13-15 new teachers, and Chappuis said the district can't wait until August to start recruiting.In 2002-2003, the district will use I-728 funds to focus on teacher training in technology, math and science. In 2003-2004, the district hopes to add one all-day kindergarten class at each elementary school and devote more resources put toward class size reductions in grades K-2. Gary Powell, assistant superintendent for business and operations, said the state Senate's proposed budget means the district could get $900,000 less from Olympia next year. If the amount is $900,000 I have saved enough from this year and previous years to weather it, Powell said. If it's any more we'll have to look at cuts.However, there was good news, too. The district received $12.8 million in federal impact aid, up from just less than $10 million last year. "

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