South Kitsap School District Update

With school bond off the table until 2017, what options are next for district officials?

Following two failed construction bond measures this year, the South Kitsap School District’s board of directors is evaluating what steps it will take next year.

State regulations prohibit more than two bond measures to be submitted before voters in a calendar year. The first attempt to pass a $127 million bond measure that would fund construction of a second district high school lost by a handful of votes in February. A second try April 26 also narrowly lost by just a fraction of a percent needed to reach a 60-percent supermajority approval threshold.

On May 25, board members met to discuss district options between now and the next bond election. The earliest opportunity for a revote is in February.

While the school district revisits its campaign strategy, Superintendent Michelle Reid is working in the meantime to update other district facilities.

“I have a meeting with the facilities director next week to talk about other projects we can do,” Reid said. “I know we are going to work to update Cedar Heights’ roof, but I’ll know more next week.”

Due partially to overcrowding in the now 30-year-old elementary school, Cedar Heights will transition to a middle school next year. As part of the school district’s transition to a middle-school format, John Sedgwick and Marcus Whitman junior highs also will make the change in upcoming years.

Overcrowding in district schools was a constant issue during the school board’s bond campaign to build a second high school in Port Orchard. During the meeting in May, the board and its supporters discussed other ways to deliver their message to voters with greater impact.

While the school district, bond supporters and incoming families anticipating a second high school option for their children wait for the next election vote, overcrowded classrooms will continue to be a problem.

One option the district is considering is to buy portables from the Central Kitsap School District, whose bond to build a new school passed in February. Board member Chris Lemke, however, describes the option to add more portables to South Kitsap’s list of nearly 60 temporary structures as “simply covering a burst pipe with a piece of tape.”

“I’m dead set against buying portables from Central Kitsap or anywhere,” Lemke said. “All it does is put a Band-Aid on problems we have. Portables drag down the integrity of our facilities.”

Reid will meet with South Kitsap facilities and operations director Tom Adams on Tuesday, May 14, to discuss what can be done with existing funds from the the district.

Reid and district administrators also will consider options for the maintenance and operations levy, which is up for renewal next year.

 

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