Policy Positions

Ten Ways to Make it Better by Working Together

Ken and his wife Karen coaching volleyball for Boys and Girls Club.
Ken and his wife Karen coaching volleyball for Boys and Girls Club.

Listening Tours and “Keep, Start, Stop”
I don’t just believe in good government, I teach it. And good governments listen to their stakeholders. If elected, I will make sure the voices of parents, children, teachers, staff, and members of the community are heard by creating “Coffee with the Council” events where we are available for speaking with the public. Further, I will use “Keep, Start, Stop” methodology to listen to what everyone wants us to KEEP doing, START doing, and STOP doing. This technique has served me well with decades of students, and it wll help make Northshore the best school district in Washington.

Help Students with Non-standard Needs
For most students, Northshore School District is working well. I want to upgrade that to “For ALL students, Northshore School District is working well.” Some students are special-needs, other students need classes more tailored to their life situations. We can expand and improve upon Northshore’s ability to do these things. If elected, I will work to make sure EVERY student has a path to success at Northshore.

Ken as chaperone for the 5th grade overnight camp.
Ken as chaperone for the 5th grade overnight camp.

Responsive Systems, Responsive People
I have 30 years of experience in public sector accounting, and I know the best organizations are the ones who are most responsive to the public’s needs.  But no matter how good public servants are, they’ll be hobbled if the systems they’re using aren’t equally as responsive. As a result, I want to help improve Northshore’s policies and processes to make them more efficient and responsive to the public.

Help Northshore Staff Get Professional Development
We already demand high quality from our teachers at NSD. What’s more, we work hard to give them the resources, training, and opportunities to produce that quality. Shouldn’t we ask the same of our staff? Shouldn’t we provide them the same resources, training, and opportunities? If elected, I would seek to help current NSD staff get the professional development to be the best they can be. When you invest in teachers and staff, children reap the rewards.

Ken with his kids and parents at the Washington Monument
Ken with his kids and parents at the Washington Monument

Transparency in Budgeting, Building, and Teaching
We look to the Northshore community for guidance in what they want for their children. However, decisions are only as good as the information they’re made from. Lack of transparency leaves parents confused and children suffering. As a founding member of Northshore Citizens for Transparency, I know that transparency leads to excellence, honesty, and success for all students, and I will seek to improve transparency throughout the district.

Creation of an Internal Auditor
As the recent audit reports show, Northshore School District has definite room to improve in terms of accountability. One of the most efficient, effective ways of doing that is to hire a certified internal auditor that reports directly to the board. Seattle Public Schools and Portland Public Schools, among others, already have professional or volunteer certified internal auditors. Shouldn’t Northshore get one too?

Appropriate Start Times, Equitable Implementation
The science is clear: later start times for older students helps them succeed in class, reduces traffic fatalities, and prevents teenagers from experimenting with drugs. I have been an advocate for later start for years, have worked closely with Parent Advocates for a Later Start, and will continue to push for these benefits to be brought to the children of Northshore.

Deal with Out-of-Control Class Sizes
As can be seen with the situation at Frank Love Elementary,  Northshore School District has a population problem, with much of our recent population growth being in the areas that historically have not had many school buildings. We need to fix this problem before more children are crammed into portables without access to drinking water. If elected, I will make fixing this a top priority of the district.

Ken Smith presenting his research on good governance at the Public Administration Review conference in Guangzhou, China
Ken Smith presenting his research on good governance at the Public Administration Review conference in Guangzhou, China

Being Fair with Growth
Northshore School District has seen significant growth over the last decade, and no end is in sight. This growth can be a good thing or bad thing, depending on how we handle it. New homes currently are not paying impact fees to defray the cost of their new incoming students. In response to a lack of elementary schools, we built a high school. We can fix these problems. If elected, I will seek to fix the problems caused by rapid growth, without losing the benefits.

Community-Based Budgeting
The best governments in the Puget Sound region have budgets that are responsive to community needs, transparent about where the money goes, and help all members of the community on the path to success. I want to help Northshore become the best of the best, and that means we should copy places like Kenmore, Redmond, and Bellevue, local governments that win awards for the transparency and responsiveness of their budgets.


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