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Breidablik School gets top recommendation for closure; district office also an option

POULSBO — Breidablik Elementary again topped the list of schools recommended for closure following a vote by the School Closure Committee Jan. 15.

However, the top vote for a closure overall in the North Kitsap School District is the administration building, Breidablik PTSA President Stasie Pike said.

Breidablik received 74 votes from 22 committee members during the meeting at the North Kitsap School District administration building. Gordon received 71 votes, according to documents available on the district's website.

After voting was done, 19 of 22 committee members voted the district office should be recommended for closure, according to district documents.

Pike, an attendee of the meeting, said the committee felt savings from a school closure are not large enough to justify closing any school. The only reason committee members voted on closure recommendations was because they were told they need to bring the top three to the North Kitsap School Board, she said.

The other four schools received the following votes: Pearson (63), Vinland (48), Wolfle (42), Suquamish (32). Poulsbo Elementary was removed from the list of potential closures earlier in the year.

The committee, divided into three groups, heard presentations from Ron Lee, director of transportation; David Dumpert, maintenance director; and Patty Page, superintendent. Each administrator gave the committee updated information to committee members before the vote was made.

Breidablik has continued to be a point of contention between the people doing closure work and the community. During the first voting process in December, which was flawed and removed from consideration, Breidablik made two school closure groups' lists. A website dedicated to questioning the closure process has since been created.

With voting done, there will be a separate public hearing for each school recommended. Public meetings are scheduled for Feb. 7, 14 and 20. A Feb. 28 meeting will be scheduled if needed.

There is one more school closure community forum scheduled for Jan. 16 at Poulsbo Middle School. The forum begins at 6:30 p.m.

The School Closure Committee was formed in early 2012 while Richard Jones was superintendent. No vote was needed by the school board. At the time, the elementary schools were 894 students below capacity — a number which remained similar for the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.

Closing a school was originally estimated to save the district $837,750 a year, according to a previous story in the Herald. That savings decreased, with newer estimates between $300,000 and $400,000. The decrease comes from the need to maintain the closed building(s) to a certain degree if the district keeps it. Utilities, such as heating also, will remain in use if the district keeps the building.

Though the recommendation from the closure committee is Breidablik, the final decision will be made by the North Kitsap School Board. The board is expected to make its decision in February.

 

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