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School board backs NKREC budget

POULSBO — Despite facing a lean budget, the North Kitsap School Board voted Wednesday to make good on its promise to improve athletic opportunities in the area.

It won’t be doing so on its own and joins Kitsap County, the Public Facilities District and the city of Poulsbo in funding creation of a North Kitsap Regional Events Center. The school board approved Phase 1 of the project — which will pay for turf at North Kitsap Stadium and Strawberry Field — agreeing to help with the $2,451,950 budget, pending the confirmation of additional match funds. Currently, the four entities have allocated $2.25 million. Installation work is expected to begin in early June 2008, the day after graduation at Kingston High School and North Kitsap High School.

The apparent funding shortfall of approximately $201,950 isn’t worrying NKSD Supt. Gene Medina.

“If there happens to be that kind of gap, I have a high level of confidence in the parties involved with the partnership to resolve the issue if it comes up,” he said. “At this point, we won’t know the exact numbers (until a bid is awarded) so that part of it isn’t significant just yet.”

Seeing the project budget for the NKREC is a significant landmark day, he added.

“It’s incredible and exciting at the same time,” Medina said. “Seeing these community partnerships come together is a great thing. They’re doing great things for our youth and the future of our youth.”

School board member Dan Delaney said the budget approval is only the beginning of what he expects to be a long-term project.

“This is the first step in a long road to make sure this happens. This is a sign of things moving ahead in the process,” he said. “In the end, every child in the North End community will benefit when the NK Regional Events Center is completed.”

Delaney said while the budget left some question marks, it was no cause for exclamation points.

“I think we made it clear today that the budget was approved pending the confirmation of additional funding,” he said. “I think we will have to approach businesses in the community to help out. It may turn out the project won’t need the money.”

Before the group approved the project budget, school board member Catherine Ahl shared her thoughts about the stipulation.

“I’ve never in my life voted for a budget where the sources of funds weren’t all laid out, but I’m comfortable with the motion because of the way it’s presented,” she said. “If we don’t vote for this and move forward, I think we’re risking throwing away those community partnerships we’ve built.”

NKSB President Melanie Mohler said approving the project budget was simply something that needed to get done.

“It’s a great relief,” she said. “I think everybody feels that way. Onward we go.”

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