2008 takes NKSD to school of hard knocks

To balance a budget


That’s the painful cry many North Kitsap School District programs and services made last spring and summer as they were either cut or erased under the point of the district’s budget balancing pen.

The district had to shave an approximate $2.8 million to balance the 2008-09 general fund.

NKSD began the arduous task of balancing the district’s general fund budget while combating declining student enrollment and unfunded state mandates early in the spring. After numerous drafts and painful swipes of pen to programs ranging from activity buses, the pool budget, the teen parent day care program and slightly increasing class sizes, the budget shook out balanced at approximately $65.3 million.

To pool or not to pool

As NKSD had to get down and dirty crafty at ways to balance its 2008-09 general fund budget, they came perilously close to pulling the North Kitsap community pool’s plug. Facing a $2.8 million short fall the approximate $350,000 pool subsidy was one large chunk of change the district could no longer afford to part with. Late last spring it was forecasted the pool would close at the end of August unless the $350,000 readily became available.

In the months that followed the public flooded the school board meetings, speaking out in favor of keeping the pool. The local nonprofit “Save Our Pool,” formed and through its fundraising and activist efforts dramatically helped preserve the pool. The district did a little hustling and shuffling, created a Community Pool Advisory Committee, continued to work closely with SOP, and for now the pool is good to go until this coming August.

The perks of well-managed money

In a school year that saw a plethora of money woes — the budget, the pool, rising gas prices — there was one beam of financial hope.

In April the district held two public meetings, one at Kingston and North Kitsap high, to share a little bit of good news and garnish the community’s input.

The voter-approved 2001 bond, worth some 60 million, has an approximate $1 million surplus, which can be used toward capital projects.

Several turned out at the meetings and the list of suggestions is exhaustive, KHS: lights for the fields, a bona fide recording arts studio at KHS, six tennis courts, covered bleachers, bathrooms and concessions for the athletic fields, a home for the drama department complete with a stage and better access in and out of the high school.

NKHS: Do nothing until the NKHS renovation is complete, Poulsbo Middle portable furnishings, improved baseball and soccer fields at Vinland Elementary, lights and tennis courts at KHS, play ground fencing at Poulsbo Elementary and resurfacing NK tennis courts.

The district and Capital Facilities Advisory Committee are waiting to break ground on any projects until the NKHS remodel is finished in its entirety, which is slated for early this year. However, four tennis courts were constructed at KHS over the summer.

Tied up in a transportation knot

The most detestable part of the district’s bus drivers who must traverse the pavement around Kingston is the before and after school drive from KHS to Kingston Middle School, and it’s easy to understand why.

KHS only has one access road that more than 800 staff, students and parents must funnel through. The two stop signs at the intersection where the buses pull out on Siyaya Avenue NE were stolen, so the drivers waited on the good graces of students to let them out.

No two buses can navigate, at the same time unless one drives on the curb, the corner leading behind the high school where the students are picked up.

And all the traffic coming or going from KHS must merge onto West Kingston Road, which gets backed up with cars for hundreds of feet, making a left turn out of KHS virtually impossible.

A morning and afternoon ride cements the drivers’ cause for concern.

They do take their turns navigating the too slender corner, a steady string of traffic does build as drivers vie to exit the sole passage and a line of cars does extend to the horizon on West Kingston Road as drivers leave KHS.

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