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School district scales back on construction, repair plans

Central Kitsap voters might see another capital projects levy — or more likely a bond — on the ballot within the next two years.

With budget shortfalls, decreasing enrollment at the elementary level, and aging buildings, the CK school board is considering asking the community once again to help fund urgent repairs and construction.

During an informational meeting last week, Central Kitsap School District administrators retold a familiar story. CKSD will transfer $3.5 million of heavy impact funds from the capital projects budget to the general budget for the coming school year.

Because of rising construction costs, the budget crunch the district is facing, as well as capital improvements bond and levy failures in 2003 and 2005 respectively, the district is delaying several major construction and improvement projects.

Replacing Seabeck Elementary School, originally scheduled for the 2006-07 school year, will be postponed as will technology, drainage and electrical improvements at Silverdale elementary and Central Kitsap high schools. Should federal heavy impact funds be diverted again in the 2007-08 budget year, there will be more projects the district would have to freeze.

Despite the failed bond and levy, the district has been able to fix major infrastructure problems with the heavy impact funding, but hidden conditions, such as failing plumbing systems have not been addressed. As a result two elementary schools were supplied with bottled drinking water for most of the 2005-06 school year.

“I hope the community really starts to see and feel the cause and effect (from failed capital projects bond and levy),” said Lee Ann Powers, CKSD board member.

The capital projects election — whether it will be a bond or levy — will likely appear on ballots in 2008, giving CKSD time to evaluate 2007-08 projected budget shortfalls. By then, the district should also have a plan for possible school closures.

The conditions of the facilities will be one of the variables considered, in addition to location and enrollment, when some elementary schools go before a school closure committee, which will be formed this summer.

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