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Sara Thompson

Sara Thompson

In Key Peninsulas rural and unincorporated setting, the Pierce County Sheriffs Department provides the community with crime-protection and prevention services.

Sgt. Brian Ward, who is one of two sergeants heading the Peninsula Detachment, recently reviewed the basics of how the department works and the resources available for the Key Peninsula. Ward has 27 years with the sheriffs department; he worked the Peninsula Detachment as a patrol deputy (1994-2001) and has served as sergeant here since 2007.

The sheriffs department is responsible for unincorporated Pierce County and has three detachments (Peninsula, Mountain and Foothills), all overseen by Lt. Larry Minturn.

Peninsula Detachment has two districts: District 14 (unincorporated Gig Harbor and Fox Island) and District 15 (Key Peninsula). Two sergeants are responsible for the Peninsula Detachment, and 17 patrol deputies cover both districts.

With three 10-hour shifts, there is always one deputy on duty in each district. Deputies provide backup for each other if needed and this can sometimes cause a delay in responding to local calls.

Community policing is often discussed in urban settings officers get to know a community and develop relationships beyond simply law enforcement. When asked how that pertains to the Key Peninsula, Ward noted, In a rural setting, there can be a real advantage because we have a small number of officers, if there are problems, residents are seeing the same people.

And the officers on the Key Peninsula tend to be more senior,he said. They like working here and tend to take more time when dealing with complaints. The consistency is usually good, though it can be a problem if the resident and the officer dont have a good interaction.

Ward and Minturn attend the monthly Citizens Against Crime meetings whenever possible, and along with deputies, they also try to attend community events including National Night Out. 

Since the economic downturn in 2008, there have been some significant losses in staffing. Ward noted that the department has lost several positions in the Peninsula Detachment. The first was a noncommissioned position, the community support officer. That person did community outreach and education and helped groups like Citizens Against Crime and neighborhood block watches organize.

Active patrol positions were also eliminated. The position of neighborhood patrol deputy ended about five years ago. That deputy was called in for non-911 types of calls such as neighborhood disputes. In addition, the detachment lost a traffic officer who was responsible for dealing with congestion, speeding and accidents.

Minturn said that all Pierce County detachments lost positions, and the problem with staffing is compounded by the difficulty in filling vacancies. The recruiting and training process is slow. Currently the Peninsula detachment has one open position that he hopes to fill by the beginning of 2016. Shifts are filled through overtime in the meantime.

When asked about trends on the Key Peninsula, Ward noted that most crimes are related to property, and that the root cause is probably drug activity thefts to pay for illicit drug use. A special investigative unit has helped to decrease the number of methamphetamine labs but he said the processing of marijuana has become more of an issue recently.

Minturn concurred, adding that heroin has become a major problem now that methamphetamine use and manufacture has declined.

He said that compared to the other Pierce County detachments, Peninsula has a few challenges. First, the physical isolation caused by both bridges does have an impact. The large waterfront means that there are more boat-related property crimes.

And, because of the proximity to both Mason and Kitsap counties, he describes the problem of border hoppingin which criminals living in one county go to another to perpetrate their crimes. It means the departments from all three counties need to work closely together.

Both Minturn and Ward agreed that there are hot spotson the Key. Crimes tend to be more concentrated in areas where there is higher population density, more inexpensive housing and a younger population

A single murder occurred and was solved last year. One murder this year was uncovered in July. Investigation of an abandoned car led to discovery of the body of Lynn Carver, 69, in her home. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be multiple stab wounds. The case is still under investigation.

Ward shared information comparing the manpower available to cover the Peninsula District compared to that for the Gig Harbor Police Department and the numbers are telling. The Peninsula District has one deputy per 3,667 people, while Gig Harbor has one officer per 850 (see sidebar at keypennews.com).

Although this difference between rural and more urban staffing is not unusual, there are a few takeaway points, which Minturn endorsed. First, if citizens feel that they need more law enforcement and prevention, they need to advocate for more funding. Second, communities partnering with the sheriff may help in these times of fewer resources. And groups like Citizens Against Crime serve as a valuable resource in that partnership.

Ward reported the following statistics for Key Peninsula in August: seven felony arrests, 25 traffic accidents, 15 false alarms and 36 traffic stops (speeding, reckless driving). Statistics for a full 12 months are available on the departments website.

Minturn had this advice for those wanting to know what to do: First, if there is an emergency or a crime in progress, call 911. To report incidents no longer in progress, call (253) 798-4721. If you want to report suspicious drug activity, the number is (253) 798-7537. Good descriptions, license plate numbers and pictures are all very helpful. The online system is especially helpful. We read and heed.

All phone numbers and web-based contacts are listed on the Pierce County Sheriffs Department website at co.pierce.wa.us (follow the Safety & Judicial navigation menu).

Living in a rural community can be a blessing peace and quiet, natural beauty. But it can also present some challenges, and dealing with crime in a relatively isolated setting is one of them.

The Pierce County Sheriffs Department is the primary resource for Key Peninsula residents, but with limited resources and a large physical area to cover, Citizens Against Crime (CAC) has been a real help for PCSD for more than 35 years.

We are the eyes and ears for the Pierce County sheriff,said Cindy Worden, CAC president. Sheriff Paul Pastor sees our value and talks about Citizens Against Crime when he speaks in the community. I am proud of that.

Sergeant Brian Ward from the PCSD Peninsula Detachment confirmed Wordens statement.

CAC is an asset. It is good for citizens to organize and to help identify trends that may not always show in reports,he said.

Local resident Hugh McMillan founded CAC in 1988 following vandalism at the Peninsula School District school bus depot in Purdy and the Key Peninsula Middle School. McMillan and Rhys Wood planned to file a class-action lawsuit against the parents of the vandals, and word of this led to an interview by KOMO television news.

After that interview, McMillan said, the phone rang off the hook with people asking what they could do to help. Within a few weeks, over one hundred people attended a community meeting and CAC was born, thanks to the action of many individuals.

The sheriffs department trained volunteers with a 10-hour program.

In 1995 a plan was formulated to have a mobile patrol staffed by CAC volunteers. Gig Harbor car dealers offered to loan cars, but insurance problems left them with the alternative plan, using magnetic signs with the CAC logo mounted on private vehicles.

Sheriff Pastor, then the operations officer, was instrumental in wading through the red tape to make the program happen, according to McMillan. A Seattle Times article in 1998 reported that that there were 40 volunteers serving as patrols at that time. 

According to Worden, membership has varied over the years. There are currently about 40 members and five teams on car patrol. They always work in pairs, with one person driving and the other taking notes.

Volunteers are trained in the process of observing and understanding what 911 operators will want during a call. The patrols are timed randomly, with volunteers usually covering areas near where they live.

CAC recently had its 501(c)3 status reinstated. With the ability to raise funds, CAC hopes to grow again. The group plans to revise its website, update its Facebook page, purchase more magnet signs for the patrol cars and reimburse patrols for gas and mileage. In addition, members encourage neighborhoods to form block-watch groups CAC could provide training.

CAC does a phenomenal job. I am impressed by their organization and efficiency. I wish we could replicate it in the other regions,said PCSD Lt. Larry Minturn.

New members are welcome. Applicants undergo a background check and may have an activeor securestatus depending on the results. Worden encourages all KP residents to consider joining from the young to the old.

Committees include bylaws (an ad-hoc committee), elections, membership, social media and patrol.

Meetings are at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Key Center fire station. Email for more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Key Peninsula Community Council (KPC) has been awarded a $150,000 grant by the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation.

The purpose of the grant is to build a first-class, healthy-community model one that may inspire and benefit service organizations throughout the Kitsap Peninsula region, said Danna Webster, co-president of KPC.

About a year ago, the Milgard Family Foundation convened a group of Key Peninsula human-services leaders with a desire to make a significant local investment that would lead to cooperative and sustainable community improvement. They wanted to focus on increasing the quality of life for families in need.

The group included leaders from Boys and Girls Club, CHI Franciscan, Childrens Home Society, Communities in Schools, Key Peninsula Community Services, Red Barn, KP School Bus Connects and The Mustard Seed Project. They met monthly to discuss the optimal way to make a lasting, positive impact, according to organizers.

The group decided establish an infrastructure rather than funding ongoing or new services.

Those at the meetings wanted to have a better way to allow them to collaborate, strategize and coordinate so that they can serve their communities without redundancy or unnecessary overlap, Webster said.

One model the group explored was that of the Rainier Hills Wellness Foundation in Enumclaw (rfwellnessfoundation.org), which has operating for 25 years.

Because KPC is not a service provider and represents the whole community, it was selected as the supervisory backbone for the next steps, including the grant application to the Milgard Family Foundation.

According to the KPC application, if the incomes of those living on the 70 miles of waterfront are not included, the Key Peninsula community is the poorest in Pierce County. More than 30 percent of the population is 55 and older. The poverty level of children in the schools on the Key Peninsula is double that of Gig Harbor schools.

The grant will provide salary and basic support for a community partnership director as well as funding for some direct services. It is for one year, with the possibility of renewal.

The first-year work plan includes:

Building community leadership and engagement

Increasing direct services with a focus on transportation, hunger, and health and wellness

Assessing and report community assets, needs and gaps

Creating a multiyear community action plan.

The next step will be to hire the director. A job description is available on the KPC website at kpcouncil.com.

Expectations are high, Webster said.

 

One of my favorite quotes is from Moms Mabley: If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got,’” she said. The healthy-community model is an opportunity to improve upon the good work that our service agencies have been doing and increase the success of their programs.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 13:55

Regional writers conference comes to Gig Harbor

Words will reign supreme Nov. 6 and 7 at the Gig Harbor campus of Tacoma Community College. Write in the Harbor, a regional writers conference crafted by writers for writers, brings authors, editors and publishers to present to local writers.

We have had writing classes as part of continuing education for years, said Janine Mott, executive director, Gig Harbor Campus and Continuing Education, Tacoma Community College.

It was time to do something cool. We have known for some time, based on the interests and requests of those attending our adult continuing education courses, that there is a tremendous interest in a writers conference. And now, after almost two years of planning, it is coming to fruition, Mott said.

Maria Hays, instructor in written communications, is the conference coordinator. She brims with enthusiasm as she anticipates the event. We have a huge writing community in our region, organized at varying levels, she said. We wanted to take advantage of this, pull in people who have been teaching and have developed networks.

This conference will have general appeal –– the focus is on general fiction and it is designed for both beginners and intermediate/advanced writers, Hays said. It comes after years of conversation with staff, writers and students at the Gig Harbor campus.

Whatcom County Community College, with its Chuckanut Writers Conference launched in 2011, served as a model, according to Hays, and the staff for that conference was a valuable resource. 

A Friday keynote talk by Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, will kick off the conference. On Friday there will be additional activities including a waterfront walking tour of Gig Harbor and classes. Saturday will be filled with an early plenary session –– a master class with Garth Stein –– followed by 50-minute concurrent sessions with a mix of panels, hands-on workshops and individual speakers. Appointments with agents will be offered for an additional fee ($15 for 15 minutes).

Mott and Hays hope that this marks the beginning of a bigger vision. They would like to see Write in the Harbor become an umbrella to encompass all writing –– song, poetry, perhaps nonfiction. And they envision quarterly workshops throughout the year along with the annual conference. Future conferences, depending on interest, might explore writing beyond general fiction.

Enrollment is open now, with early-bird savings through Sept. 15.

 

Two fee waivers will be available for TCC students who qualify. The conference can accommodate up to 100 participants. Registration is available at continuingedtacoma.com/write-in-the-harbor/.  

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 13:54

The responsibilities of the school board

Editors note: Because 80 percent of Key Peninsula households dont have children in the public schools, we wanted to provide an overview of our schools through a series. The first article provided a brief snapshot of the three elementary, one middle and one high school that serve our students. Articles on school funding and testing followed. This, the final in the series, describes the role of the school board, as a reminder about the boards role as the November election approaches. Questions and comments are welcome.

In the Peninsula School District, students routinely outperform those in other districts. Principals sing praises for the quality of the teachers and support staff, and many parents are thrilled with what their children learn and experience. The Peninsula School Board, a nonpartisan group of five elected directors, plays a critical role in shaping the schools.

According to Chuck Cuzzetto, Peninsula School District superintendent, the major board responsibilities are to approve the strategic plan every four to five years (the current plan was approved in 2014), approve the budget and hire and evaluate the superintendent.

The board sets policy, he said. The superintendent and staff then implement that policy.

At a day-to-day level, the responsibilities include attending meetings that are generally twice monthly (once in July, October and December) and participating in one or two committees, which are staffed by district employees. Committees include audit, early learning, core 24 (graduation requirements), diversity, legislative issues and levy.

Each board director is elected to a four-year term. Voters cast votes for all directors but each director represents a specific district this means that directors are responsible for all students but they also should be aware of needs within their own individual regions. (In some school districts in the state, all members are elected at large and represent all students, while in others members are elected only by those living within their defined region.)

Four director positions are open this year: Districts 1, 2 (the current board member moved out of the area), 3 and 4. A map is available online at psd401.net/index.php/board-of-directors/board-boundary-map. 

District 1 covers most of the Key Peninsula; District 2 covers the northernmost Key from the Minter area and extends to Purdy and Canterwood; District 3 covers Rosedale and Maplewood; District 4 covers the Wollochet area and District 5 covers Artondale and Fox Island.

The board sets the vision, Cuzzetto said. We need strategic, visionary thinkers. Directors need to represent all students, to understand that needs can differ in the different regions. They need to care about all kids from those struggling to the high achievers.

Collaboration is also essential with peers, community and partner organizations, he added.  And each director needs to be connected to his or her own community.

How does the work of the local school board fit within the context of federal and state legislation? In Washington state, unlike some other states in the country, school districts are not under the control of city or county officials. The Peninsula School District is one of 295 in the state.

According to the Washington State School Directors Association (www.wssda.org), Washington states public school system is shaped by federal law, the state Constitution, state law, administrative rules adopted by the superintendent of public instruction and the state board of education, as well as by court decisions.

The state Legislature establishes general requirements and provides the money, which is allocated by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The state board of education and OSPI adopt the more specific rules needed to implement the laws. Federal funding requires adherence to federal mandates 5-10 percent of district funding comes from the federal government.

Within that framework, the legal language describing the school boards responsibility, from the Washington State Legislature website, is as follows: “… each common school district board of directors shall be vested with the final responsibility for the setting of policies ensuring quality in the content and extent of its educational program and that such program provide students with the opportunity to achieve those skills which are generally recognized as requisite to learning.

Those policies cover such areas as establishing an evaluation process of the superintendent and other staff, providing information to the local community, determining of the number of instructional hours necessary, establishing curriculum standards and evaluating teaching materials.

Three candidates ran in districts 1 and 4 for the primary election, and results narrowed the race to two in each district. On the ballot in November are:

District 1: Marcia Harris and Matthew Wilkinson (incumbent)

District 2: Deborah Krishnadasan, unopposed for the remaining two years of the term

District 3: Geralyn (Lyn) McClendon and Rand Wilhelmsen (incumbent)

 

District 4: Leslie Harbaugh and Garth Jackson 

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 13:49

Fiber Arts Festival returns during farm tour

All things fabric are featured at this years Fiber Arts: Threads Through Time, a show that is an integral part of the Key Peninsula Farm Tour on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The definition of fabric truly runs the gamut from silk, rags and oil cloth to crochet and duct tape. And the range of fiber arts on display will also run the gamut from traditional techniques to modern adaptations, from utilitarian uses of fiber to the purely artistic.

Eight years ago, the Longbranch Improvement Club was asked to open its doors and perhaps show a few quilts during the first farm tour. What has come to pass is a far cry from that initial request.

Twenty-four artists will display their work indoors. Outside, Creighton Cheney will show his willow-and-maple furniture and Fred Leenstra will display his antique tractors. The Girl Scout Troup 40956 will host Weave-a-Wikki demonstrating how to use yard trimmings to build compost bins.

Patty Carroll of Longbranch is the featured artist this year. Working with fabric for the past 15 years, she now describes herself as retired but she still creates work for friends, family and special commissions. She shows her work at exhibits once or twice a year and in 2014 was chosen as a participant in An Occasion for the Arts, a juried exhibition in Williamsburg, Va.

Her path as an artist was a winding one. After starting a career as a nurse and then becoming a homemaker, she found herself creating costumes for her daughter in school drama productions.

I had been sewing since grade school and took design classes in high school, Carroll said.

She took a class offered by a shop in Seattle and, in her words, got hooked on silk. She began designing silk flowers and fell in love with the flow and color that silk offered.

As time went on, Carroll began to incorporate ribbons and kept introducing new materials and techniques to keep herself and her customers engaged.

She saw soutache at a museum exhibit and was intrigued. It is a quarter-inch, flat braid used to trim clothing such as matador costumes. Carroll said it took a year to find out more about it she then took courses, started working with it and began to create jewelry, wrapping the braid around stones and pearls.

In the last year, she has expanded yet again, combining soutache with ribbons and silk into kumihimo, a Japanese form of braiding used in such things as samuri costumes.

Her creations are time-consuming.

You have to love sewing, Carroll said. I may work over a period of weeks on a given piece, considering the color and design.

Delia McGinnis, LIC events co-chair; Robin Gould, LIC fiber arts committee chair; and Carolyn Wiley, Key Peninsula Farm Council president, all thanked those helping to make this show a success. They also thank the sponsorships of Angel Guild and Bruce Titus Automotive Group that make it possible to keep the event free to the public.

Fiber Arts will have something for everyone. There will be food including tomato bisque, corn chowder and Pegs famous apple crisp. Everyone is invited to enjoy the exhibits, meet local and regional fiber artists and watch them demonstrate their work.

 

 You may find the perfect hat, scarf, jacket, basket, rug or adornment, McGinnis said. Or maybe you will learn how to make a duct tape billfold, tie flies or build furniture after all, wood is fiber, too!

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 13:29

Lakebay Marina closed following complaint

According to Lakebay Marina owner Mark Scott, Key Peninsula residents and local boaters have been thrilled to have the Lakebay Marina back in business he reopened the landmark spot in 2013.

This summer there was a setback.

Following a Beatniks concert in mid-July, Scott said someone called Pierce County expressing concerns about the pier. The county Planning and Land Services sent an inspector, who declared the pier supporting the café and outdoor picnic area to be unsafe. A barrier was erected and the café will be closed until further notice.

Scott had an engineer assess and draw up plans for the repairs. He said just a few of the 42 pilings need replacing at this time, but it is expensive work. The initial bid was for about $150,000, and the county then told him that additional lateral support for earthquake safety would be required. Those plans have been submitted and he is awaiting approval. He expects that the additional work will increase the cost significantly, and will also impact the historic architecture of the pier.

It is frustrating, Scott said. We were really just taking off this summer and I have been planning to steadily make the improvements and repairs that are needed. The café is really an anchor in this community and I want to see it here for many years to come.

He also pointed out that eight employees lost their jobs as a result of the closure.

When asked what his next steps will be, he said he will keep everyone updated on the Lakebay Marina Resort Facebook page. He plans to start a community-based funding campaign for the current repairs.

In addition, he is developing a strategy to get historic landmark status (at a local or a national level), which may help with future fundraising needs. Scott said that support with letters would be very helpful, and he will post details about whom to contact as soon as he has completed the plan. 

Friday, 31 July 2015 14:07

Local schools and students: Testing

Editors note: Because four out of five households in this area dont have children in public schools, we wanted to provide a useful overview through a series in the KP News. The first article provided a brief snapshot of the three elementary, one middle and one high school that serve our students. The second article covered basics of school funding. Here we review testing. The final article will cover the local school board. We welcome questions and comments.

Testing has become an emotional issue for students, teachers and parents over the past few years. For some, it represents an unwelcome intrusion, a symbol of encroachment by authorities into the classroom, a cause of anxiety for students and possibly even a threat to teachers integrity. For others, it is a way to measure student progress, a tool to identify gaps and find approaches to improve outcomes for students, teachers and schools.

The role of the federal government

The federal government first became actively involved in public education in the 1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson, who had been a teacher, identified education as an important tool in fighting poverty. In 1965, Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as part of the war on poverty. Title I, federal funding to support the education of students living in poverty, grew out of this program.

No Child Left Behind, passed in 2001 with broad bipartisan support, was a reauthorization of the ESEA. It expanded the federal role in public education through annual testing, annual academic progress report cards, teacher qualifications and funding changes.

It did not establish national learning standards but it did require states to develop assessments in basic skills. To receive federal school funding, states were required to assess all students at select grade levels.

Race to the Top was a program established in 2009 during the Obama administration. Using competitive grants, it sought to encourage educational reform. Grant recipients were required to adopt the Common Core standards and to use data in a more sophisticated way than is required by No Child Left Behind students were followed for progress longitudinally and in addition, teacher evaluations were tied to student achievement.

The first two rounds of Race to the Top grants were opened in 2010. Washington applied for the second of the two rounds and was not awarded the grant.

History of standards and testing

It is impossible to talk about the history behind the current tests without including the history of common learning standards proficiency tests are meant to measure whether or not students have mastered the concepts outlined by the standards. Jennifer Dempewolf, director of assessment and accountability at Peninsula School District, noted that Washington state was an early adopter of common learning standards.

The states first standards (in reading, writing, math and science) were established in 1994, with testing for assessment (Washington Assessment of Student Learning or WASL) starting in 1997. Passing exams as a high school graduation requirement started in 2006. Over the past 20 years, tests and their acronyms have changed, as have the learning standards, testing intervals and graduation requirements.

During this time, at a national level, governors and business leaders joined to form Achieve, a nonpartisan group helping to lead education reform. Their resulting report in 2004 concluded that high schools were not providing the skills necessary for students to succeed in a world with increasing demands for college and career readiness. In response, the National Governors Association convened a group to develop the Common Core standards. They were released in 2010 and Washington adopted them in 2011.

Chuck Cuzzetto, superintendent of the Peninsula School District, had this to say in support of the Common Core: Its like mom and apple pie. The learning standards are more rigorous than earlier ones, are consistent across all states, and are competitive internationally.

He thinks that most of the negativity arises from confusion between the learning standards and the tests designed to measure proficiency. 

This year saw big transitions in Washington state. Four years after introducing the Common Core, testing based on these new standards took place. 

How test results are used

Cuzzetto emphasized that evaluation of student progress has always been a part of the educational system, and described it as a pyramid approach. At the base is the classroom teachers judge how effective their curriculum is on a daily basis by observing their students; they also use homework, projects and classroom exams. On a buildingwide level, schools evaluate progress toward their identified goals (which may involve the standardized test scores or other measures, depending on what is in their schoolwide strategic plan).

The district, likewise, uses test scores as part of its overall strategic plan evaluation. Finally, the state uses test data as part of its evaluation and reporting of schools and districts.

Prior to high school, test results can help identify individual students who might need additional support the following year but progression to the next grade level is based on teachers classroom evaluations and not standardized test results. Passing standardized tests (biology, math, English/language arts) is a high school graduation requirement. The tests required for graduation have recently changed, and for many students there are alternatives. 

Uproar over testing

The Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) was used for the first time this year. Refusal to take the exam was widely reported. Cuzzetto and Dempewolf noted that refusal was not a major issue in the Peninsula School District. Statewide, 95 percent of students in third through eighth grades took the SBA; that dropped to 50 percent in high school.

Some high school students simply had no personal benefit from taking the new exam. Students who will graduate in 2016 must pass the 10th grade HSPE (or the 11th grade SBA). They took the HSPE last year. So when they were asked to take the 11th grade SBA this year, many students refused. For schools and districts, the results could serve a useful role, allowing them to assess curriculum and begin the process of improving and adjusting.

Testing takes time

Many teachers and parents have expressed concern about the amount of time that testing requires and its impact on classroom teaching. Dempewolf summarized the actual amount of time as follows:

Grades three through eight and 11th are tested yearly. The math and the English/language arts exams take three to four hours each.

Grade 10 biology exam (taken at the end of the biology class) takes two hours.

But she and Cuzzetto acknowledged that the logistics of administering a new test using computers presented logistical challenges and the impact on classroom time this year was significant, particularly in middle and high school.

Looking into the future

Cuzzetto and Dempewolf see value in Common Core and in the data that standardized testing can offer. They noted that the last few years have been especially full of change. With new learning standards and new curriculum and now with new tests students, teachers and administrators are all part of a steep learning curve. It is likely that the tests will be tweaked. Perhaps the testing frequency and intervals will be adjusted.

It is certain that the percentage of students judged proficient on the tests this year will be lower than in the past. This is virtually always the case when new standards and tests are introduced.

And early state reports indicate that this is true passing scores have gone from an average of about 80 percent to an average of 50 percent.

Cuzzetto is confident that students in the district will outperform the state average, as has been the case in the past. But the number of students graded as proficient will fall. And over the next several years, as the curriculum builds, the number of students passing will rise again.

 

Over time, testing requirements and intervals will undoubtedly change. At the state level, the Legislature stepped back from the requirement to pass the biology EOC exam to graduate this year. At the national level, as Congress reviews the ESEA, it is likely that earlier stringent testing requirements will be decreased. 

Friday, 31 July 2015 13:47

Jan Angel, 26th District state senator

Jan Angel is not new to the political scene, but her path was indirect –– it started with banking, then passed through business and real estate on the way to her current role.

Angel was raised in Colorado and was recruited, along with her husband, as a banker in Alaska. For nine years, she was known as the blonde lady banker in Anchorage, working in a new bank started by the tribes. She joined the National Association of Bank Women and was asked to run as one of eight national directors. There, she got a taste of campaigning and loved the chance to travel through the region. When her husbands work drew them to Washington state in 1983, she decided to go into business for herself rather than continue in banking.

For a number of years, Angel ran a successful haircare franchise. Life took a difficult turn when her daughters were in college and her husband committed suicide. As she was still reeling from the shock and loss, her most successful haircare location lost its lease and she decided to sell the franchise. At that time, she entered the world of real estate.

Her mothers words served as inspiration: When you have a job to do, find a way to get it done.

What doesnt kill you makes you stronger, Angel commented as she described those initial years of adjustment. She was named agent of the year in her first year in real estate. She has since remarried, with a family that now includes two daughters, a stepdaughter, a stepson, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. She and her husband live in Port Orchard.

As a realtor, working with clients to understand what they could do with their own property, she became involved in land use issues. When she was asked to run for Kitsap County commissioner she agreed, was elected, and served for eight years.

Although she planned to retire after eight years, she was approached to enter the race for state representative. I was told that everything I fought for at the county level I could affect at the state level, she noted. Her bid was successful and she served for five years. When Derek Kilmers seat in the state Senate opened, she chose to run for that position. She was elected in 2013.

Angel stated that her office spends a lot of time working directly with constituents, dealing with individual problems concerning such issues as land use, Labor and Industries, and Department of Social and Health Services. She sees herself defending peoples freedom, and as scissors, cutting through the red tape tied to government. She enjoys being a part of the majority party in the Senate. Playing offense is very different from playing defense, she said. Our job is to lead the way. In the House, we were mostly holding the line.

She currently serves on three committees: Financial Institutions and Insurance (she is vice chair), Healthcare, and Trade and Economic Development.

When asked what she sees as the key issues on the Key Peninsula, she cited transportation, business and education.

She wondered about the possibilities of private companies coming in to help provide transportation, though this is a local county more than a state issue. She discussed her support of an adequate revenue package for transportation at the state level –– to complete the environmental impact study on SR-302 and to carry out congestion studies between Gig Harbor and Purdy.

As a member of the Key Peninsula Business Association, she has met with businesses to see what she can do to help.

In terms of education, she commented that although the state budget was not finalized at the time of the interview, she supported increased teacher salaries and benefits, was concerned about the level of compensation for some administrative positions, and was not sure that lowering classroom sizes above the fourth-grade level was necessary.

It is hard to stay in touch with all my constituents, she acknowledged. She attends events as she is able, including a Key Peninsula Community Council meeting in June with Reps. Jesse Young and Michelle Caldier. In addition, she has hosted several tele town halls. Constituents call in and are able to interact with her via a phone call.

 

Angel encourages constituents to contact her office with questions or concerns. Her office tracks issues closely and pays attention to how voters weigh in. Her Olympia office number is (360) 786-7650. Her local district office number is (360) 443-2409 and her email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Friday, 26 June 2015 13:11

MEET YOUR ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES

Jesse Young, appointed to replace Jan Angel when she moved from the state House to the state Senate in 2014, is new to the political scene. And his path was not one he would have predicted.

Young moved to the Tacoma hilltop neighborhood when he was 3 years old with his mother and brother. At times homeless, he nevertheless excelled academically, graduating from Wilson High School as valedictorian in 1995.

He attended Notre Dame and received a degree in management of information systems four years later. From Notre Dame, he moved to Silicon Valley to work as a software engineer, with the ultimate plan of returning to the Pacific Northwest.

In 2001, with a consulting job at Boeing, he moved to Gig Harbor.

He met his wife, Jennie, in high school. They have five children ages 4 through 12. Their middle child, now 9, was adopted from Ethiopia when he was 2.

Young said that he and his wife had always wanted a large family and had initially talked about foster children or adoption. After becoming involved with an orphanage in Ethiopia, they met their son, fell in love with him and made him a part of their family. Youngs wife and his mother, who lives with them, homeschool the children.

Young first considered entering politics in 2012. He was working for Russell Investments at the time, and Russell had just made the decision to move their headquarters from Tacoma to Seattle. He felt strongly that more could have been done to keep the company, the biggest white collar employer in Pierce County, from making the move. He was inspired to run for U.S. Congress, but placed a distant third.

The local Republican Party took note, however, and when Angel won the state Senate race, he was appointed to take her place. His work as a software consultant allowed him the flexibility to take on the position. I needed to assure that I could support my family while also working as a state representative, he said. I grew up poor, and my first responsibility is to care for my family.

In the fall of 2014, his bid for election to continue in office was successful. 

Young is assigned to three committees: rules, technology and economics, and transportation.

He describes his main priority in transportation as making sure that we dont get taxed more on Seattles mega-projects. He has made multiple attempts to limit rises in the Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls, though they were not successful.

His greatest excitement is his work on the technology and economics committee. He describes it as the most cerebral committee in the Legislature. We juggle every policy for the state to meet needs while being environmentally honoring. This committee provides a real opportunity to work across the aisle. There are not the typical ideological divides, and we can really grow jobs, he said.

According to Young, his own legislative priorities focus on growing jobs, overseeing healthcare costs and fiscal responsibility. He wants to protect blue-collar jobs and grow white-collar jobs, and describes Washingtons business and occupation tax as a barrier for small businesses. Hed like to bring high-tech jobs to Washington –– especially jobs that allow you to work out of your own home.

He is concerned that the Affordable Care Act will drive up healthcare costs and also feels that mental healthcare is underfunded.

Young said that priorities in spending would be to assure adequate funding for transportation (especially ferries and roads), care for the most vulnerable and education. He is opposed to increasing taxes, and noted that with the current improved state revenues, an increase in taxes should not be necessary. He worries that increasing taxes would stifle economic growth.

Young lives in Gig Harbor but has ties close to the Key Peninsula –– he has family members who live just south of Allyn. While a sense of peace comes to him as he crosses the Narrows Bridge, he said that crossing the Purdy bridge takes one to another level. The Key Peninsula is just one of those gems, he said.

When asked about what he considers to be Key Peninsula priorities, he discussed transportation and the need to balance making roads safer while preserving the rural aspect. For schools, he supports the cost of living adjustment, increased local control and decreased mandates. He has supported a number of requests in the state budget, including support for the Key Peninsula Civic Center, Red Barn, Camp Seymour and Key Pen Parks.

I want to make myself available. My goal is to be very responsive, Young added.

 

To contact Young, call (800) 562-6000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..