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April meetings to shape ideas about new high school

KINGSTON — Ground won’t be broken for the new Kingston secondary school for another four years. No nail will be hammered, student bused, or doors opened until 2006.

But the school will start to take shape this month.

A group of community members, organization representatives, and school district officials will meet twice this month to discuss options for the school and the land it sits on.

District officials, including Superintendent Gene Medina, have long discussed the secondary school as a learning center where everyone from the youngest Cub Scouts to the oldest senior citizens could gather. Members of the group who will meet April 9 and April 23 believe those meetings will be one step in a public process to make that happen.

“A traditional high school is designed for the use of students for academics and athletics,” said Nick Jewett, who will take part in the meetings. Jewett, a co-chair of North Kitsap Citizens For Quality Schools, said, “We see that there’s a broader education component that the public will be able to participate in. We’re really talking about lifelong learning, and we’re trying to plan with that in mind.”

Jewett estimates 40 to 50 groups have been invited to participate in the two discussions.

The groups cover most of the issues and constituencies in the county, including representatives from both the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish tribes; the fire district; Kitsap County Public Works; the National Audubon Society; the Roving Players; Trek Gymnastics; the Boy Scouts; and the North Kitsap Soccer Club.

The group will help the school district decide what issues to address when they hire an architect to design the school.

So far the school hasn’t been designed, and no partnerships have been decided.

“Nothing’s been cast in stone,” said Jewett. “The district has made a real commitment to operating openly.”

The planning process will includes more than school district property. Kitsap County owns several chunks of adjoining land, and possible uses for that land will be discussed at the meeting as well. Some of the land is wetlands, and will be made off limits.

After the April meetings, the group will report to the school district’s capital facilities manager, Robin Shoemaker; the next step will be to hire a landscape architect.

The landscape architect would not design the school building, but would instead design plans for how all the land’s element — wetlands, parking lots, buildings, playing fields, and more — would fit together to best use space.

“We don’t know if we’re going to satisfy everyone’s concern,” Jewett said. “But that’s the goal.”

While the process is intended for Kitsap county groups to be represented, there will also be ways for individuals to get involved.

When it wrote the wrote requirements for the bond that funds the new secondary school, the school board required that it must hold three public meetings before the school itself is designed, or it can’t receive the money.

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