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NKSD to Kingston: Let there be lights

KINGSTON - Kingston athletes will have a place to call their own.

After months of meetings, negotiations, fundraisers and waiting, the North Kitsap School Board voted Thursday to grant funding to the installation of lights at the Kingston High School athletic field.

The school board meeting, which took place in the KHS commons, was attended by a larger than usual contingent of supporters of the field lights, and the decision to grant funding was greeted with applause and cheers.

"I'm tickled," said Todd Tidball, one of the leaders of the community effort to install lights. "I think it's a great day for all the kids of North Kitsap. They get what they need, and that's lights."

Jana Kramberger, another leader of the community effort to install lights, and whose son Jason plays soccer and football for Kingston, said as she wiped tears from her eyes that the decision to fund lights "makes the whole school district stronger."

With plenty of uncertainties regarding budgets and funding for various projects at both Kingston and North Kitsap High Schools, the school board cautiously took time to consider where the money for the lights would come from, how much to allocate, and where the lights stood on the community and school district priority lists. According to the funding proposal put forth by NKSD Superintendent Rick Jones, the price tag on the lights is an estimated $240,000, which Jones believes will decrease when the project is competitively bid. The district was asked to fund $140,000 of that cost, with the state pitching in $40,000 and $60,000 coming from the community. The community has already raised $40,000 thanks largely to Kingston Rotary and the KHS associated student body, and Rotary members believe the remaining $20,000 can be raised at the June "Swing for the Lights" golf tournament to be hosted at White Horse Golf Club.

District five director Ed Strickland, a longtime backer of the lights project, voiced his opinion that the lights are part of the construction of KHS, and not something extra, and funding should therefore be taken from the 2001 school district bond that initially funded construction of the school.

"You never finished a high school," Strickland told the other members of the board. "You never finished it to the level you finished North."

District three director Melanie Mohler responded, saying, "We have completed it the way it was bid. We're trying to accommodate what the reality is."

Strickland's motion that the funds for lights come from the 2001 KHS construction bond was seconded by district two director Dan Delaney, but voted down by the rest of the board. The proposal was then reworked so that the funding would come from a $340,000 pot of money that KHS administrators hoped to use for other needed projects. That motion ultimately carried, but was not supported by Strickland, and Delaney abstained.

"I think it's good that we finally got lights," said Ry Ravenholt, a KHS senior and member of the student task force that presented a lights funding proposal to the board earlier this year. "I'm not exactly happy with where all the money is coming from, and that we didn't go with the original proposal, but I guess it is good that we finally got the job done. We also understand that there are other projects here that need to be done, and we want those to be done, maybe not just as much as the lights, but we did want to get them done."

Tidball was optimistic regarding the district and community's efforts to continue supporting the school's future projects.

"I think the way it was funded will work out fine" Tidball said. "The things that the kids need at Kingston will come to pass, maybe in a different order than some people had hoped for, but if they have needs, they'll get met somehow in the future."

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