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Parents appeal Breidablik closure

POULSBO — The North Kitsap School Board’s decision to close Breidablik Elementary School is being appealed in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Nicole Flowers, Kari McKinsey and “Concerned Families of Breidablik” have asked the court to review the Feb. 28 decision to close the school, according to court documents obtained by the Herald. Those seeking review have children attending Breidablik and “have been adversely affected by the decision,” the document states.

“The school closure process has not been a fair proceeding,” according to the document.

The parents are representing themselves in the appeal.

The district followed all the steps in a closure process, said Cliff Foster, North Kitsap School District’s attorney. The board made its decision based on district closure policy, he said.

“We’re opposing it,” Foster said of the appeal.

North Kitsap School Board President Dan Weedin had no comment.

The appeal is in a review stage. The district has 20 days from March 29 — when the appeal was filed — to file a response to the court. After that, it will be up to a judge to decide what kind of hearing procedures will take place — either written materials and arguments, or live testimony.

It is difficult to predict how long a trial will last, Foster said. If live testimony is required and it’s a “full-blown trial,” it could take a “very long time,” Foster said. Just going off written material will make the trial much quicker, he added.

The lawsuit against the board’s decision states the School Closure Committee formed to help the board “lacked fair, objective criteria.” Some of the information the closure committee received was inaccurate, the lawsuit states. That inaccurate information includes cost projections for transportation, maintenance, and capacity, which “lacked objective reliability,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit continues with a list of what parents believe were inadequacies, or inaccurate information in the decision to close Breidablik.

“It is virtually impossible to list every error in the Board’s decision in this Notice with particularity as the closure process was lengthy and the record is long,” according to the lawsuit.

North Kitsap School District Superintendent Patty Page would not provide any information regarding the district’s plan of action with the lawsuit. She did say the lawsuit will require a lot of work and attorney fees.

“I believe the board made a decision based on appropriate facts,” Page said.

The North Kitsap School Board voted unanimously Feb. 28 to close Breidablik. Vice President Scott Henden said he preferred to close Wolfle, but wanted to support the board’s decision. Wolfle and Gordon elementary schools were the other two on the final closure list.

The decision to close a school follows a continued decrease in student enrollment and related revenue in the district. The district began the 2012-13 year with 5,947.14 full-time-equivalent students; administrators expected 5,979 students.

Student enrollment could drop by more than 100 students for the 2013-14 school year. Enrollment is expected to continue to decrease for the foreseeable future.

The majority of the savings in a school closure comes from cutting one principal, office manager and custodial staff — a little less than $300,000. Other, smaller savings come from reduction in utility usage and maintenance.

One-time costs to close a school are expected to be between about $20,000 and $30,000. Those costs include relocating staff.

In the wake of the closure, the Breidablik community has been looking at other options, including charter schools. Jim Spady, president of the Washington Charter School Resource Center, discussed charter schools in Washington and explained related laws to about 30 local residents and parents March 28. The meeting was held in Breidablik.

To read state law related to school closure, RCW 28A 335.020, go to http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/

To read the North Kitsap School District’s policy related to school closure, go to www.nkschools.org. The policy can be found under About Us/Policies/Series 6000/School Property/Closure of Facilities.

 

 

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