CKSD official threatens to resign
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:33 AM
"Gary Powell, the Central Kitsap School District's assistant superintendent for business and operations, seldom makes waves at school board meetings. He usually gives financial reports, answers questions courteously and says little else.That's why his threat to resign at the Wednesday, July 18 Central Kitsap School Board meeting was such a shock - it was met with an audible gasp.Powell had been lobbying for months to hire a project manager to oversee heavy impact funds that come into the district, or federal money granted to districts serving large military populations. Evidently, he got the board's attention. After lengthy discussion, the board voted 3-0 to create the project manager position. Board member Christy Cathcart abstained, and Carl Johnson left the meeting before the discussion arose.Powell met with school board members individually to discuss the idea and secured the support of the district's finance and facilities committees, but when he formally brought the proposal to the board in June, members tabled the decision until July.When Cathcart and Chris Stokke voted to table the proposal Wednesday, Powell dropped his normally cool demeanour.If the board can't make a decision on this, I will have to resign, he said. I have delayed this for a month, and I want to see the district move forward.The district has received $7.3 million in impact funds this year, and is likely to get a total of $12 million over the next two years, according to Powell. He said the district needs a long-term vision for spending the money, and his staff has inadequate resources to handle to job.The impact money is allocated for one-time maintenance projects, such as new ventilation systems, new roofs and new phone systems. The new employee would focus on energy and water conservation in capital projects and foster collaboration among the maintenance, custodial, grounds and facilities departments, Powell said.I have put my heart and soul into this district, said Powell, who has worked for the CKSD for 10 years. I want (the district) to move forward and it couldn't do it without this.Earlier in the meeting, Jim Sura presented results of an energy study at Seabeck and Tracyton elementary schools. The study highlighted the need for technical expertise to guide maintenance spending.With a little guidance and follow-through, it's pretty amazing how much you can conserve with little money invested, said Sura, a Navy retiree who volunteered to perform the study. Conservation needs more administrative dedication, he said, calling for hiring the new project manager. The position ultimately would pay for itself, Sura said, with the money saved in energy costs.Audience members Carrie Riplinger, John Burch and Carol Arper also weighed in their support.My brother in law is a project manager, and he has been saying we need this position for years - I agree, said Riplinger, a library clerk at Seabeck Elementary.Board members initially expressed concern with the cost of the new hire ($100,000 including benefits), the source of the funding for the hire (heavy impact funds) and what would happen if the heavy impact funds were discontinued.Powell countered that the district pays lower than the state average for its top administrators, and the position would be renewed on an annual basis. The new project director will not serve in CKSD's administrative cabinet. "