Opinion

Students getting short end of stick

The Bremerton School District is facing a $1.2 million shortfall in the next academic year and that is regrettable, but not preventable.

In a tough budget year, the children will suffer. That, too, is regrettable but not preventable.

According to the school district spokesperson Joan Dingfield, the shortfall is being caused by several factors: declining enrollment at the elementary school level because of declining birth rates in Kitsap County, stagnant revenues from the state and increased overhead costs in operating the school district.

One of the more drastic measures being looked at to save some cash is the possibility of closing an elementary school in the district, mainly because there is a trend in declining elementary enrollment. The district put together a task force to study the issue and come back with a recommendation. The task force recommended a school be closed, and, in early March, Assistant Superintendent Roy Okamoto suggested the Bremerton School Board close Olympic View Elementary School.

When the recommendation was announced, Okamoto said closing Olympic View would save $400,000 in operating costs.

Now, the school board is considering other options — one of which will be to turn Naval Avenue Elementary School into a ninth-grade academy, which means it will no longer be an elementary school.

As was the case when Olympic View Elementary was the recommended closure site, the school district will have public hearings about whether to close Naval Avenue Elementary. Those hearings will be at 7 p.m. on March 31 and April 1 at that school.

It sounds like the school district has skewed priorities. By recommending any school get closed to save money, they are putting money ahead of what the district should be about: the students.

Adults often do two things when it comes to children: we over estimate their adaptability and we forget what it was like to walk in their shoes.

Closing an elementary school — any elementary school — will have an adverse affect on hundreds of children in one fell swoop.

There are two places where children should feel secure: at home and at school. For children to be moved from one school to another during their formative elementary school years for a cost-saving measure just isn’t right.

Children don’t understand budgets. Children don’t understand Bremerton School Superintendent Bette Hyde’s words that she says brought the school district to this point: “States don’t fully fund education.”

Children understand that one year, they are comfortable in their surroundings with their friends, their teachers and their principal. Then the next year, their surroundings are gone and they are shoved on a bus to go to a different school with different teachers and a different principal.

It would not be right.

The school district should try to find another way to make budget.

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