School shuffle concerns Spectrum students, parents

KINGSTON — There are two things that are certain in the drama surrounding the future of Spectrum Community School: 1) Spectrum will remain as a school, and 2) principal and founder of the school Chris Wendelyn will be reassigned.

KINGSTON — There are two things that are certain in the drama surrounding the future of Spectrum Community School: 1) Spectrum will remain as a school, and 2) principal and founder of the school Chris Wendelyn will be reassigned.

Beyond that, speculation and anticipation are stirring about what effects proposed district changes may have on the alternative school and its tight-knit community.

Tuesday, North Kitsap School District officials — Supt. Gene Medina, Kingston High School planning principal Christy Cole and executive director of student support services Gregg Epperson — met with Spectrum parents and students to answer questions.

“What we’re seeing is an expanded opportunity for kids in our school district,” Medina said. Kingston High, Kingston Middle School, Gordon Elementary and Spectrum schools will all be in close proximity in 2007-2008, he explained. “We see all that connected … Spectrum for a long time was separated, we don’t want it to be separate.”

The small crowd of Spectrum supporters in attendance openly questioned this logic.

“We aren’t used to a large learning environment … I don’t like it. I’ve never been successful in that environment,” said Spectrum sophomore Andrew Lanning. “I like how (Spectrum) is right now.”

When Kingston High School opens in September, the district plans to link Spectrum to it with regard to administrative oversight and class offerings for students, Medina said. As a result, Spectrum students will have access to classes at KHS and vice versa — something which could increase the size of Spectrum’s typically small classes.

“Will (classes) get larger? Probably somewhat, but I can’t say what that number will be,” Medina said.

This uncertainty is creating concern among the Spectrum community as to whether the flux will adversely impact the cohesiveness that makes the alternative school a positive experience for many students.

“What all the parents are saying is that we don’t want the main fabric of the school to change,” said Robin Anderson, mother of two Spectrum graduates and a current student. “If it does, there will be an uproar.”

The district, on the other hand, has concerns about the costs associated with staffing and offering Spectrum’s average 100 students the same types of programs it will for the 800-student KHS. Medina cited food service as an example of the fiscal impacts the district is facing.

“(The Spectrum food service program) is $20,000 in the hole because the number of students served doesn’t come anywhere near covering that cost,” he said. “We have concern about that, but we don’t have a solution.”

Financial constraints are also playing a large role in the district’s decision to place Spectrum’s principal and administration under the umbrella of Kingston High School. A KHS assistant principal will likely be tasked with heading up the alternative school.

“If there’s an assistant principal (to take over) why not keep Chris (Wendelyn) on? Why are you so determined to get rid of him?” Spectrum parent Sylvia Staten asked Medina.

Since it is a personnel issue, the district cannot discuss the matter Medina replied, however, earlier in the evening he said Wendelyn will be “reassigned” in the coming school year.

Where his new post will be is unknown, even to Wendelyn.

Either way, Spectrum students, staff and parents want a say in the route the school takes.

“In the future, in the case that there are any new teachers (or the new principal), I want to know, for sure, that you guys will listen to what I have to say,” Spectrum sophomore Ashley Smith said.

NKSD officials assented with a nod.

Spectrum Community School

seeks resolution from NKSD

POULSBO — The North Kitsap School Board heard a different voice Thursday in what has become a dramatic saga surrounding Spectrum Community School.

In recent weeks, parents, alumni, teachers and concerned community members have addressed the board on the topic, but sophomores Nicole Esparo and Ian Forrester, with their future in the balance, became the first current students to speak to the board.

Esapro said Spectrum has come to grips with the fact that integrations between the community school and Kingston High School must take place, but advised, “In order for these integrations to take place freely, some ground rules must be set.”

Esparo said she feels Spectrum must remain a school — which district officials have confirmed will happen. Sovereignty for Kingston and Spectrum must be defined, and the Spectrum community must be respected, she said.

“I think that’s where the disconnect is, trust, or lack of it,” Bob Geballe told the board. “The Spectrum community feels neither listened to or respected.”

Later in the meeting as NKSD director of capital programs Robin Shoemaker gave a capital facilities update to the board, it seems that the district may be getting the message with regard to Spectrum’s multi-purpose room — the latest design of which came under heavy fire by staff and students.

“We’re back looking to rally the various scenarios and make a presentation,” Shoemaker said.