Third try at school bond: SKSD places measure on February ballot

PORT ORCHARD — After a lengthy meeting Dec. 7, the South Kitsap School Board voted unanimously to place another construction bond on the Feb. 14, 2017 ballot. This will be the school’s third attempt since February 2016. The bond would fund construction of a second comprehensive high school in Port Orchard.

With the grade reconfiguration being complete next school year, South Kitsap High School is at capacity. In a presentation by SKHS Principal Jerry Holsten, the current student enrollment is 2,278. With growth in the district, and ninth graders moving to the high school next fall, the projected head count is expected to be 2,843 for the 2017-18 school year.

With every current classroom and portable maxed out to their highest capacity, Holsten said SKHS can accomodate 2,897 students.

“With current enrollment trends, dropoff throughout the year, and current and future class sizes, it would mean overloading classes or teachers needing new stations,” Holsten said.

Along with the issues of overcrowding, every school in the district is in need of improvements and safety measures.

“We need safe and secure entrances and other upgrades such as parking lot improvements at all schools,” interim superintendent Karst Brandsma said. “Schools like Olalla and Burley Glenwood need more extensive work.”

Also on the list for more extensive work is John Sedgwick Middle School.

“John Sedgwick is isolated,” Brandsma said. “Even now, we have to keep certain lights and the heat on at all times because it takes too long to turn on for kids arriving.”

The proposal for a new high school has been upgraded since the unsuccessful bond measure on the April ballot.

The proposed cost of the new bond is $172.6 million, with an estimated $10.8 million matched by the state. This will be paid over 21 years. The bond would cost property owners $1.56 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

“We are getting more from the state for every dollar we put in,” Brandsma said.

Along with the construction of a new high school, the bond money will go toward improvements for the pool at SKHS and safety, security and health improvements at all current schools in the district.

“We need the community’s help to step up and keep our high school safe and bring schools up to the standard,” Brandsma said.

Also discussed at the meeting was graduation requirements needed with SKHS moving to a four-year high school. Currently, students need 20 credits to graduate. But with a four-year institution, students need 24 credits to graduate.

To accommodate this increase, the schedule is going to change from a 3×3 block schedule to a 4×4 block schedule in fall 2017.

Also on the agenda was the board reorganization for 2017. Board members unanimously reelected Greg Wall board president. Rebecca Diehl was elected vice president and representative to the Washington State School Directors’ Association. Chris Lemke was elected legislative representative. Keith Garton was elected the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association representative.