News

Olympic View’s fate to be decided

By CELESTE CORNISH

Editor

The Bremerton School District’s plate is full this week. It not only has to decide whether to close Olympic View Elementary School to save an estimated $1 million in next year’s budget, but it also has to defend Bremerton Junior High School.

After the elementary school closure committee recommended closing Olympic View Elementary, a small but vocal group of parents with children at Bremerton Junior High School spoke out and suggested the district close that school down, instead.

Among the maintenance problems mentioned at BJHS were black mold and mushrooms growing inside the school and rats.

Ken Kemper, the facilities coordinator for the district, said there is no black mold or mushrooms in the building. He did say that during cold weather, mice do come into the building but the district is addressing that problem.

“Any time you have a building this big, during the cold weather, mice are going to go where it’s warm,” Kemper said.

Joan Dingfield, a spokesperson for the district, said closing down BJHS is not realistic. To close down a school requires a 90-day public hearing process, which would put the decision at the end of June.

“That’s just not feasible,” Dingfield said.

No matter how the district decides to go about it, it must trim a projected $1.2 million from next year’s operating budget. The decision about Olympic View Elementary will be made at a called meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the district office.

The district’s elementary school closure committee made the recommendation a month ago and since then the district has had two public hearings at Olympic View Elementary. At the public hearings, the message has been clear: the Olympic View Elementary parents and Manette community don’t want an elementary school to close to fix the budget shortfall.

The district’s talking points for closing Olympic View Elementary are that the closure would help the district maintain small class sizes and it is consistent with the projected student enrollment decline. Next year, the district estimates there will be 75 fewer elementary school students next year.

The district also is considering the following options:

l Closing BJHS.

l Not closing any schools at all.

l Closing Naval Avenue Elementary School. There are two public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 31 and Thursday, April 1 at the school.

l Shifting the elementary schools to kindergarten to sixth grade, sending the seventh- and eighth-graders to Mountain View Elementary School, creating a ninth grade academy at Naval Avenue Elementary, closing BJHS and sending 10th- through 12th-graders to Bremerton High School.

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