KCMT may move to Breidablik Elementary School

Cast members rehearse a song from
Cast members rehearse a song from 'The Music Man' in May 2012 in the former Chevy dealership on Viking Avenue. Kitsap Children's Musical Theatre later moved to the former Courtesy Ford site next door. KCMT is now negotiating a long-term lease with the North Kitsap School District for use of the now-closed Breidablik Elementary School.
— image credit: Scott Sorensen / 2012

POULSBO — Kitsap Children’s Musical Theatre is negotiating a long-term lease of Breidablik Elementary School, its board president and the school district superintendent said Jan. 31.

KCMT board president Gene Johnson was on a second tour of Breidablik when he told the Herald that the school district “has made us a nice offer” to occupy the school site until the district needs it again.

“They’ve asked us to come in and take care of the building and give it back to the community,” Johnson said.

“It’s a good opportunity,” he said, adding  that KCMT and the district have a shared mission: To educate children. And, “The school district doesn’t want to sell [Breidablik].”

Patty Page, superintendent of North Kitsap School District, said on Jan. 31, “We are in conversations with Kitsap Children’s Musical Theatre about using part of Breidablik and are moving forward with a serious conversations around that. But we don’t have a written agreement at this point.”

The school district closed Breidablik at the end of the 2012-13 school year to reduce the district’s expenses in the wake of districtwide enrollment declines and reductions in state revenue. The district estimates a first-year savings of about $300,000 after expenses from closing the school and the fees the district incurred during an appeal of the closure.

Johnson said KCMT identified the spaces it would use at Breidablik and will submit a proposal for the school board to consider at its next meeting. He said he hopes KCMT will move to Breidablik within six months. The school would be used for rehearsals, costuming and set building; performances would still be staged at the North Kitsap Auditorium.

The school board is in favor of KCMT moving to Breidablik, according to minutes from the school board's Jan. 18 workshop. The school board is also in favor of moving the district's gymnastics program to Breidablik and making the school site more of a "public facility," according to the minutes.

KCMT has been using the former Courtesy Ford site on Viking Avenue and considered buying the site. “It’s an ideal spot,” Johnson said. “It’s been great to be there and they’ve been very generous to let us stay there, but we don’t have $2 million to pay for it.”

He said staying at Breidablik would be long-term — four to five years — and would give KCMT time to build up resources to develop its own site. One possibility: The site of the Little Valley ball field, 1.5 acres on Little Valley Road near the city limits.

The county-owned site is largely unused and unkempt, and Mayor Becky Erickson said the county is considering granting the site to the city. If that happens, she’d support leasing the site long-term to KCMT, which would develop the site.

“We don’t have all the pieces put together,” Erickson said, adding, "KCMT is an amazing non-profit. It’s very well run, has great vision and provides a really valuable service to the community.”

KCMT produces four to five shows a year and a summer drama camp. "We have grown from 30 participants 13 years ago to 150 participants and over 100 adult volunteers" from all over Kitsap County, founder and executive director Kerby Criss wrote on the KCMT website. "KCMT is a 100 percent volunteer organization. Every child who auditions for our productions is cast into the show. No child is turned away."

Teen staff members work alongside adult volunteers during productions, and manage production departments and direct the summer camp.

Regarding the 40,000-square-foot former Courtesy Ford building on Viking Avenue, Criss wrote, KCMT uses "every inch of that space teaching drama, music and dance as well as creating sets, costumes and props. We hope to have our own state-of-the-art rehearsal and performance facility someday, with the ultimate goal of establishing a school of the arts in North Kitsap."

— Herald reporter Kipp Robertson contributed to this story

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