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School board elects to keep class size reductions

Significant budget cuts have forced the Central Kitsap School District to change direction.

Instead of using $2.4 million in Initiative 728 funds for staff development in technology, math and science as planned, Central Kitsap School Board members voted to use the money to maintain elementary class size reductions implemented last year.

“It’s not only about lightening the teacher’s load, it’s also about better, more personal access to students,” said Cheryl Brown, president of the Central Kitsap Eduction Association teachers’ union.

The move means six full-time staff members hired last year will retain their jobs, according to Gary Powell, assistant superintendent for business and operations. When the initiative passed in 2000,

k-4 classes shrunk by one student each.

I-728 provided new funds for class size reductions, extended learning programs, teacher training, early childhood education programs and improvements or additions to designated school buildings.

The unanimous school board vote came after members evaluated results of an online survey completed by 414 community members and staff, and listened to public testimony.

The survey offered three options: Implement the existing I-728 plan focused on staff development; restore a learning improvement day (LID), a teacher training day trimmed by the Legislature; or maintain current elementary school class size reductions.

Most survey participants — 51 percent — voted for option three, which the administrative cabinet also endorsed. CKSD staffers comprised 83.8 percent of survey respondents.

But not everyone favored the board’s decision.

During public testimony, Kevin Cummings said the district should stay the course despite financial woes.

“I hate to see the plan get cut out at the first bump in the road,” Cummings said.

Sari Perlow urged the board to retain the LID day.

“I’m really concerned about what we are doing to the staff. If we keep cutting away at these things, Central Kitsap (School District) might not be the great place it is now,” Perlow said.

The Legislature trimmed a total of $800,000 from the CKSD budget, according Powell. He emphasized that he would try to find money for the staff development which was put on hold.

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