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'Premature' painting prompts parental concern

POULSBO — The North Kitsap Stadium is undergoing some renovations, but feelings about the changes are mixed.

Last week, Superintendent Rick Jones approved the decision to paint the stadium’s bleachers gray and scoreboard gold. Jones said the painting would neutralize the stadium’s colors, making both Kingston and North Kitsap high schools feel at home, and to maintain the quality of the facilities. The total cost of the project was about $17,000, said district spokeswoman Chris Case.

A group of parents say the bleachers were not worn enough to merit a new paint job, and that going to a neutral color was not part of the terms agreed to when the district chose to install lights at the Kingston field rather than turn the NK Stadium into a shared space. But the choice of colors is generating far less controversy than the decision to spend the money in the first place.

“I don’t care if they paint it, when it’s necessary. I just think it was premature,” said Lael Stock, a North Kitsap High parent and member of the Stakeholders Committee that advocated the installation of lights at KHS. “We are in a recession, with limited funding for education. If the bleachers were showing wear and tear, fine, paint them. But those are relatively new bleachers.”

Jones said the scoreboard had begun to crack and peel in places, and the once-gold seats had faded to orange and begun to wear. Additionally, he said by painting now, the district honors the efforts made by students at both high schools to work together to bring lights to the Kingston field and to share field time at the NK Stadium.

“It was definitely worth doing, because of the tremendous amount of work that went on trying to make concessions and accommodations,” Jones said. “By doing this, it honors all that work.”

Some, though, have pointed out that the money could have been better spent on improving facilities at the KHS field before painting at the NK Stadium.

“Having sat in (the bleachers) many hundreds of times over the past few years, I can say without equivocation that the bleachers are in fine shape,” Marcy Salo, a former NKHS parent and member of the Stakeholders Committee wrote in an email. “I would have preferred to see that money spent some other way, like maybe putting some additional bleachers and rest room facilities out at KHS.”

The idea of installing rest rooms at the Kingston field is one that has been discussed before, because of the field’s use as not only a sports facility, but as a classroom for physical education and band practice.

“They’ve gotta take care of what they already have,” Kingston soccer coach Craig Smith said of the NK Stadium. “But I hope they put a high priority on bathrooms at Kingston, not just for athletics, but for classroom use.”

Jones added that because of the wetlands and limited space surrounding the KHS field, there will likely never be a large stadium at Kingston, and in years to come KHS will continue to need to use the NK Stadium.

“I, all along, believed that the stadium would always be used — at least in the foreseeable future — for activities by both schools,” Jones said. “In my mind, clearly the (Kingston) students understood they would be playing at the stadium whether there were lights or there weren’t lights (at KHS). And students understood that if they were going to be playing at the stadium, then some accommodations would need to be made.”

North Kitsap senior Alex Vining, who led the student effort to get lights installed at KHS, said painting the stadium was not part of any plan presented by students, but added that he felt the accommodations were acceptable.

“We knew that they (Kingston) would be playing some games on our field,” said Vining. “The painting... shows that we recognize that they’re going to be here too, even though they have the lights.”

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