Wave goodbye to the junior high

Bette Hyde - Courtesy photo
Bette Hyde
— image credit: Courtesy photo


Staff writer

Bremerton Junior High School is officially closed. At a public hearing on Jan. 3, the Bremerton School District Board of Directors finalized the proposed closure by unanimous decision, ending all classroom activity at the school.

While the site will remain open for athletics and district staff use, it will no longer be used for student learning.

“We will maintain usable space, but it’s been our long-range plan to close it,” said BSD Superintendent Dr. Bette Hyde.

More than 50 years ago, when the youth population sky-rocketed, Bremerton Junior High was one of many schools built by the state to support the growing number of students. But the majority of those buildings, like Bremerton Junior High, are now simply too old and run-down to be maintained as cost-effective, functional schools.

“During the ‘Baby Boom,’ the state built as many schools they could, as cheaply as they could,” BSD Board of Directors Vice President Dr. DeWayne Boyd said of the old structure. “Almost all of those school are gone today.”

Since 2005 when a bond to rebuild Mountain View Middle School and add another wing to Bremerton High School passed, the BSD has meticulously planned the junior high’s closure to coincide with the opening of MVMS. The decision to close the school stems from various reasons, the overriding factor being that it cost too much to maintain such an old building.

Before the school could be closed, however, the BSD department of finance and operations was required to prepare a written analysis that addressed the seven biggest concerns brought on by the closure.

The analysis estimated it would cost approximately $21,000 to “mothball certain areas of the building” to complete the closure. But in return, the district expects to save on monthly utilities, maintenance and the consolidation of staff.

“Actual cost savings will depend on what additional services are supported at the new sites, as most of the costs of staff are being transferred,” the report stated.

The junior high closure enables the BSD, which is now structured as K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 grade levels, to consolidate its learning programs into two locations rather than three. And by consolidating its education, Boyd expects the BSD to save money.

“Transportation costs will go down and operating costs will be reduced,” Boyd said.

Consolidating from two sites to three also gives the district more options and flexibility in the education it can offer its students. The analysis states “educational programs and support programs” and “expanded course offerings and support services” will become more readily available to students.

The junior high’s closure ends one era of education in the BSD but opens the door for the beginning of another. While board members acknowledged the school’s history and recognized it as a fixture in the Bremerton community, the Jan. 3 hearing laid the school to rest once and for all.

“It’s 53 years old and served the community well,” Dr. Hyde concluded.

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