Closure: coming to a school near you

Coming changes within the Central Kitsap School District will result in the closure of at least one school, district officials say. Exactly how many and which ones will depend on the decisions made in the coming months by the administration and school board.

“No matter what,” said Finance Director David McVicker, “school closure of some kind is in our future.”

The district will host three public forums in the next two weeks to discuss the issue of school configuration. Members of the public are urged to attend the meetings to learn about the configuration process and its consequences.

The configuration discussion revolves around which grades attend which schools — for example, whether ninth-graders attend junior highs or high schools.

However, McVicker said there is much more to the process that just moving students.

“This has the potential to impact everybody,” he said.

At this point, the outcome is uncertain, but some scenarios the district has examined include closing a junior high or closing one of the district’s three secondary schools, Olympic, Klahowya or Central Kitsap.

McVicker said the current options are only shown to shed light on the effects of all the possibilities.

“These are only some of them,” McVicker said, “(these options) are not necessarily at the top of anyone’s list.”

On April 11, 15 and 16 the district will host its three public forums, one at each secondary school.

McVicker said the purpose of the forums is not to discuss school closure, but merely to gather feedback on two questions:

Should sixth-graders stay in elementary schools or move to middle schools?

Should ninth-graders stay in junior highs or move up to secondary schools?

Former school board member Marvel Hunt said the presence of community members at meetings and public forums is essential to help guide the district.

“It’s important for the community to attend meetings so they can give guidance to the board, so they can say what their expectations are for the district,” Hunt said.

McVicker said that personally, he is anxious to hear what feedback the community offers at the forums.

Central Kitsap’s current configuration has kindergarten through sixth grade in elementary schools, seventh through ninth grade in junior high and tenth through twelfth grade in high schools.

Klahowya Secondary school stands as an outlier — it has no junior high, but seventh through twelfth grade students all attend school together.

Around the time the district closed down the Seabeck and Tracyton elementary schools, it began examining the process of changing the district’s configuration.

The configuration analysis has been going on within the school district since the 2007-08 school year. At that time a committee compiled by the school board recommended that ninth graders at Fairview and Central Kitsap Junior High be moved to Olympic and Central Kitsap High School.

This process was shelved until the end of the 2010-11 school year. Now the district is  looking to finish the examination and come to a decision.

According to the current timeline, the school board is scheduled to come to a decision some time toward the end of summer.

According to McVicker, any changes that come about from the configuration process would not be implemented until the 2015-16 school year at the earliest.


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