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NKSD: Let there be lights?
NORTH END – Kingston High’s athletic programs are one giant step closer to an equal playing field.
As it stands now, KHS athletics is only scheduled at the North Kitsap Stadium a handful of times, whereas North Kitsap High athletics is scheduled more than 200 times. KHS has no lit practice fields, whereas NKHS has at least four. KHS has to balance and share its turf field with girls soccer, football and band in the fall while competing with shrinking daylight. In the spring it’s a balancing act between boys soccer and track practices and competitions.
But that’s all about to change, sometime in the not-too-distant future.
On Jan. 8 Gregg Epperson, North Kitsap School District’s director of student support services, told the school board the district is working toward equality at the stadium and is committed to lights at KHS.
“We’re going to level the playing field on stadium access with the two high schools,” he said. “The district, the two schools, the principals and the ASB have committed to partnering to get lights at KHS.”
Epperson said various administrators are already looking at the 2009-10 athletic schedules for the stadium and Strawberry Field, the goal being to have the modifications in place by next school year.
“We really are committed to figuring out when we can get lights and how to pay,” Epperson said. “But there’s no timeline and I’m in the process of costing out the lights.”
As part of the district’s solution-based approach to the lights/stadium issue Superintendent Rick Jones tasked 10 NKHS and 10 KHS students with developing a lights/sharing the stadium solution.
The student groups have met once as a force of 20 and twice as smaller subgroups of four to five students from each school. A subgroup representative from each school will present to the board during the Jan. 22 meeting. The students will reconvene as a whole for another meeting in mid-February.
According to an e-mail from Robin Alberts, an ASB advisor at KHS, the student groups are united in two proposals.
Proposal A: Get lights at KHS and make minimal changes to the stadium. Proposal B: If KHS doesn’t get lights the stadium becomes a 50/50 shared stadium which will require major revamping and painting.
Alberts wrote the students are in absolute favor of Proposal A and in regard to Proposal B, “none of the students want to go there.”
“Both schools are committed to getting lights at Kingston High School as soon as possible,” Alberts wrote. “It’s not about getting another stadium to (KHS.) It’s about playing as many of their games and practices at KHS as they can.”
The Kingston Rotary has raised $27,000 and KHS ASB has raised $13,000 for lights. Alberts wrote the NKHS ASB “has offered to join in the fundraising efforts for lights at KHS.”
The KHS community currently has a quasi-partnership with Albertsons for fundraising efforts where people can sign up to have money earmarked for “KHS ASB/lights” through www.albertsons.com. To donate click on the “In the community” tab, then click on the community partners logo and click on shoppers. Log on using one’s savings card and phone number and enter KHS’ partner ID number, 49001017609.
Now that all the stakeholders – athletic boosters, athletic directors, NKSD administrators, principals, students and the community – are on board for equal access or lights at Kingston the missing piece, and seemingly always the most difficult to find, is the funding.
The NKSD school board threw a progress-halting wrench into the funding pie a few months ago when it released a statement about the stadium. The statement read if KHS wanted to play its sporting events at home they had the support of the board, with the understanding that the board would stop efforts to make the stadium more neutral and no money leftover from the 2001 bond would be spent on lights, bleachers, concessions, etc at KHS. The statement can be read in its entirety on the Herald’s Web site, www.northkitsapherald.com.
Robin Shoemaker, NKSD’s director of Capital Programs, said before the statement’s release, the process of acquiring lights at KHS would have continued through discussions and recommendations with the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee. The CFAC is a group of citizens charged with monitoring the district’s spending of the 2001 bond and making recommendations on how any remaining funds should be spent.
The district and the CFAC have selected to halt financial recommendations until the completion of the NKHS remodel, which is slated to be finished by early February, which is when the CFAC would start looking seriously at the list of projects that could be funded by the bond’s surplus.
“I would be thinking somewhere in February or March we would then be in a place to have the CFAC discuss and make a recommendation regarding lights. We might have been able to do something as soon as this summer. That was the schedule we were on,” Shoemaker said. “The statement came out and caused a redirect of energy. That’s the reality of it.”
Several CFAC members said the board’s statement didn’t take lights off the table and lights are still on the list and a topic of discussion. It’s just now a question of what that really means as far as getting lights at KHS.
“Nothing is off the table yet. We haven’t said no lights or no bleachers. We haven’t crossed anything off the list,” said CFAC member Randy Borek, sharing his interpretation of CFAC ongoings. “If we make a recommendation for lights and the board says no that’s their prerogative.”
Board President Tom Anderson and vice president Melanie Mohler have had discussions with the CFAC regarding the lights and the statement.
When asked where the board stands on lights and the statement Anderson said the statement was made to make sure all the bond’s projects were complete before any additional money was spent elsewhere.
“It doesn’t mean they will never get lights out there. If we have the wherewithal to do it and the community supports it they’ll probably have lights eventually,” Anderson said. “The statement does stand for the time being. We’re just being financially conservative and not making a decision to do lights at this time.”
On Jan. 8 the board approved a $200,000 budget enhancement for NKHS. After that enhancement the 2001 bond leftovers ring in at $846,000.
Shoemaker said funding for lights could come from two possible sources, the uncommitted 2001 bond capital fund balance ($846,000) or funds remaining from the KHS project budget.