Teachers union votes ‘no confidence’ in Chimacum superintendent

Concerns include declining enrollment, lack of vision

CHIMACUM — The Chimacum Education Association has voted to express “no confidence” in Superintendent Rick Thompson.

Citing a lack of vision and an accelerated decline in student enrollment, the education association released a statement Thursday that said 92 percent of the Chimacum School District’s certificated staff voted “no confidence.”

“We need a new superintendent,” said Garth Gourley, the Chimacum Education Association president. “Chimacum students and staff deserve better.”

Mike Gould, the chair of the Chimacum School Board, said the board has “full expectation and complete confidence in the ability of both the superintendent and all district employees to work together in selfless collaboration to serve the students and families of the Chimacum community.

“We believe it is the paramount responsibility of both parties to do so,” Gould said.

Thompson’s three-year contract runs through the 2020-21 school year. During the last consideration at the end of March, the board did not renew his contract, Gould said.

“I will continue to work with dedication and passion, in a collaborative and transparent manner with the board, staff, students, parents and community members to address the challenges in our district,” Thompson said in a written statement.

“I am also committed to working with our great staff and the education associations in a positive, productive manner that advances student achievement and invests local, state and federal taxpayer dollars wisely.”

The Chimacum School District is facing declining enrollment and is realigning its classes to for the 2019-20 school year to go from four buildings to three. It will include Chimacum Creek Primary School for grades K-2, Chimacum Elementary for grades 3-6 and a combined junior and senior high school for grades 7-12.

“There has been a lot of good discussion, and our members weighed a lot of different options,” Gourley said. “At the heart of what we do is our students.

“When [the teachers] took this on, they talked about how this affects their ability to work with students or how this affects students directly.”

Thompson said his team has continued to develop a balanced budget despite less state funding, which is directly tied to enrollment.

“The district continues to bring in additional resources and expertise to deliver engaging educational opportunities,” he said. “The CEA collective bargaining agreement has been settled while other agreements are currently being negotiated.

“We have worked hard as a district to improve the climate in each school. I am committed to developing solutions to the decline in enrollment.”

Members of the Chimacum Independents Association and Chimacum Custodial Grounds and Maintenance unions also voted no confidence in Thompson, according to the press release.

Concerns include a lack of vision for Chimacum public schools, continued intimidation and lack of respect for educators, and a lack of transparency in the decision-making process, according to the press release.

“What we’ve seen now is the budget tries to be balanced, and we work to keep our teachers here,” Gourley said. “We’re going to have to do more with less. That’s a tough message to give to people.

“We’re hoping we can get some new energy in here.”

In March, Gourley said CEA members requested an executive session meeting with the Chimacum School Board to discuss educators’ concerns. Gourley said the board refused, and the CEA union membership voted April 12 to share their concerns publicly.

Gould said he was out of town at the time and could not confirm what occurred.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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