Parents and residents seeking a change in direction have criticized the Peninsula School District Board after the recent failure of a $220 million bond and resignation of Superintendent Rob Manahan.
They spoke during the public comment of the board's meeting June 28.
“I’m here to address (Board President Marcia Harris) about your actions at the last meeting," parent Sammy Jensen said. "That behavior in any career would be met with termination.
“Maybe we should call for your resignation … (the board) has not made decisions that you have had over year to make, and that would have made this bond pass. I want to know what are your solid plans. ... When is the final decision going to be made for the new school? Here we are months later, with no decision.”
Jensen was referring to the June 14 board meeting where Manahan, who announced his resignation at the beginning of June, asked for an executive session with board members to discuss his departure. Harris denied the request and adjourned the meeting.
Manahan made his comments after the meeting.
"The board can work on its communication, its decision-making, its appreciation and valuing of the skill set of the superintendent they bring in and trusting that skill set," he said. "Those are things that could be helpful."
Parent John Fry said he saw "troubling behavior" at the earlier meeting.
“It resulted in a shutdown of the superintendent to be able to speak," Fry said. "... I want to encourage the board to look at themselves and to see how they can communicate better.”
Others asked the board to make clear decisions regarding a future capital measure.
“Do not initiate a levy. It's a bad deal and won't pass,” said Peter Nash, who described himself as an “Artondale dad.”
Nash told the board a levy would cost more in interest, require more elections to bring in the same amount of money as a bond and not account for rising construction costs.
"Compromise, but stick with proven principals," he said. "... don't get caught in the trap of a levy.”
During board discussion, directors debated whether to place a capital measure on the November ballot. That would require a resolution to be drafted and approved by Aug. 7. The board has only one public meeting scheduled in July.
Directors Deb Krishnasadah and David Olson said they want to first fill the empty seat on the board and find an interim superintendent before drafting any resolutions.
Olson also said he would not support a bond or levy measure until the board decided on a new elementary school location, and would support placing the new school only in Gig Harbor north.
No action was taken on the issue. The board plans to schedule a special work session to draft a capital measure plan.
Where are we going to put these kids?
The board's chief financial officer, Karen Anderson, discussed enrollment numbers for the 2018-19 school year and how the district will find room for incoming students.
As of June 15, more than 500 kindergarteners were enrolled in the district. Discovery Elementary School has enrolled 98 students so far and is at capacity. Enrollment will end July 25.
No information was available on how many of the students were from new families or families with children already enrolled in school. Families with students changing schools in the district for specialized classes most likely will not be able to have siblings transfer as well.
“There is no more room to shuffle kids,” Assistant Superintendent John Hellwich said. “Additional portables are needed. We just don’t know where to place them yet.”
The expected flux in enrollment is why a new elementary school was a part of the proposed $220 million bond. The district also is expected to reach a mandatory classroom ration of 17 students per teacher by 2020. Currently the ratio is 19.8 students per teacher.
“We are basically running out of space everywhere,” Anderson said. “We need portables but we need to know where to put them. We are running out of areas where we can put portables. We are looking to see if there are places we can rent or lease if needed."
In other news
Deb Steele, the district's courier, was recognized with the 15th annual Karin Fellin award.
The board also voted unanimously to appoint Anderson as acting superintendent.
Applications for interim superintendent and for the open position on the board were due on Thursday and the board reviewed the applications for the first time during executive session. Interviews and a selection for each position will be made in July.