Students committed to getting lights at Kingston

POULSBO —  Where the adults are faltering, the students are taking up the slack.

The Vikings and Buccaneers co-curricular programs are united in their efforts to get lights at Kingston High School, and came together to tell the school board as much.

Since December, 20 NKSD and KHS students have been hammering out student-based solutions to stadium access and equality issues, lights at KHS and how to coincide athletically.

"Both schools would really like to get lights for Kingston," said junior Alexander Vining, representing North. "Lights would increase sizes in both bands, extra lights would lead to more playing times for both schools and all the programs involved on the fields in addition to the community."

The students' solutions center mainly on getting lights at Kingston. If not, then the North Kitsap Stadium needs to be more Kingston neutral, and the students disagree on how to share and equalize the stadium.

"There's conflicts with putting up banners we can't agree on," said cheerleader Tonja Hirsh, Kingston's student representative.

The students, who want a stronger voice with the school board, are committed to providing the board with comments and will meet again in February. The students would like to see one of their own sit on board.

The primary buzz kill is funding, as in how much money will be provided, when the funds will be available and where's it going to come from.

Kingston ASB raised $12,000 for lights and the Kingston Rotary is contributing $27,000, and North's committed to helping raise funds.

The student's own fundraising is having a devastating impact on other programs in need of cash.

Vining told the board it will be hard for them to find money, as North has its own activities to support.

It's the same at Kingston.

"The problem with us all working so hard to get lights at Kingston is all the other clubs and programs aren't getting any funds," Hirsch said. "It's hard to finance both."

School board member Val Torrens questioned the students' testimony, primarily in the funding arena and if it's truly the wish of all the students at Kingston to play their games at home versus the NK stadium.

"Some teams are very happy to be at Kingston and others want to be at the stadium. Is everybody willing to be at Kingston and not at the stadium? I'm just trying to find out. I'd like a priority, " Torrens said. "We have the same issue. I don't know if the pot would be big enough to do both lights and the stadium."

If the board were to fund lights for KHS the district has two potential sources; the approximately $840,000 leftover from the 2001 bond or any funds remaining in the KHS project budget, which is about $20,000.

The actual cost to install lights at Kingston isn't know, and district administration staff are in the process of costing it out. The installation of lights at Strawberry Field, which cost $185,000, has been used as a rough estimate for the potential cost at Kingston. However, electrical conduit is already laid at Kingston and it wasn't at Strawberry, but the east side of Kingston's turf field will pose access problems not seen at Strawberry, which could influence installation costs.

As for a timeline for any potential action: "We are not doing anything until North is complete," said board member Melanie Mohler.

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