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NKSD opens up and says ‘aye’ to clinic

POULSBO — In a move that surprised the sparse audience — and at least one board member — the North Kitsap School Board approved the health clinic at Spectrum Community School during its April 10 meeting.

Board members said that enough time and public comment had passed and that it was time for a decision.

“We’ve had reports. We’ve had a lot of public input,” said Board Member Catherine Ahl. “It seemed like the right time.”

The interlocal agreement between the district and the Kitsap County Health District (KCHD) was on the board’s agenda as a report. While such reports can be voted on by the group, action is usually reserved for the next meeting.

The concept of the health clinic had been a controversial one since it had first been publicly introduced in December 2002.

The clinic will provide health care to Spectrum students a few days a week. It will be paid for almost entirely by the KCHD, which will provide staff and equipment for the center.

The school district will pay only for utilities and other nominal costs, including maintenance and repairs, a telephone line and security services.

While community members supported many of the health clinic’s services, including basic health, drug and alcohol prevention and education and mental health evaluation and care, some were leery of the clinic’s involvement with reproductive health education.

Other local citizens were worried that the clinic would encourage secrecy between parents and children, because, once parents signed a general waiver, students could seek any kind of care — including reproductive health information and contraceptives — without the parent’s knowledge.

Dr. Scott Lindquist, director of the KCHD, said that students have that right now. The only difference, he explained, is that they would have to pay at a private clinic while the clinic based at Spectrum will offer services for free.

Board Member Brad Camp was surprised the board voted at the Thursday meeting, but was pleased the vote went the way it did.

“Parents, students and medical professionals I’ve talked to said it’s a great idea for the kids,” Camp said.

Chris Case, the district’s director of communications and community relations, also was surprised by the decision, and even lightly slapped her palm to her forehead when the board’s Helen Hoover called for a vote.

“I thought they weren’t going to vote until the next board meeting,” Case said. “We’ve certainly had a great deal of input, both pro and con. The decision the board was made for the good of the students.”

Dick Endresen, who was one of the five board members to unanimously approve the interlocal agreement, was also pleased.

“I think it’s something we need. The kids need to be healthy to learn anything,” he said. “I wish they’d had something like this when I was a kid.”

The board also approved the hire of Roy Herrera as North Kitsap High School principal at the Thursday meeting. The move had been expected, at least by Herrera, who said last week that he had been told he was the leading candidate.

Herrera will replace Dave Andresen, who announced earlier this school year that he was stepping down.

Herrera is the superintendent of Socorro Consolidated Schools in Socorro, N.M.

He will take over the position July 1.

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