News

New sites ready for kids

By P. CHRISTINE SMITH

Staff reporter

Displaced elementary school students will have a place to finish the school year, following the closure of the interim school site that Olympic View Elementary was using this year.

The old North Whidbey Middle School was closed late last week, following concerns that the indoor air at the building had made people sick.

Olympic View’s kindergarten through fifth-graders, about 430 students, will go to school at three separate locations through the end of the year. Oak Harbor School District, with some help from the community, found enough space for classrooms for the entire student body in just two days.

Teachers and staff members are now settling into the three locations, getting ready for school to resume Monday morning. Here are the sites:

* Kindergarten classes will be held at Hillcrest Elementary School in the Pods, and fourth-graders will attend class in Hillcrest’s gymnasium.

* First-graders and all-day kindergarten/first-grade combination classes will go to school at North Gymnasium at Oak Harbor Elementary, while second-graders will use Oak Harbor Elementary’s multipurpose room.

* Third-graders and fifth-graders will attend school at classrooms within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at 201 NE O’Leary St. The educational wing of the church building was offered to the school district free of charge, said Dave Peterson, assistant superintendent.

Olympic View Elementary School’s administrative office will be based at the old school district offices at 200 NE Midway Blvd, while the RAVES program will operate in the blue portable buildings near the old school district offices on Midway. The ECEAP preschool program, also displaced by the closure of the interim site, is operating at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on Regatta Drive.

School district personnel walked through the temporary school sites with city officials, including the fire chief, said Bruce Worley, executive director for operations for the district. The various set-ups for students at all three locations met all code requirements and were approved for use.

A transition team made up of school district department heads banded together this week to try to solve dozens of logistical and educational challenges associated with the emergency move of Olympic View to temporary locations.

Joyce Swanson, principal of Olympic View Elementary School, credited her faculty and classified staff for the success of the move in such a short period, citing that the teachers and staff worked hard this week to get the job done.

“I just want to assure you that we will have real school starting on Monday,” Swanson told the school board on Thursday night.

Swanson also said that, realistically, teachers, staff, parents and students will still face some challenges next week.

“I know we’re going to have glitches, but we’ll just keep at it,” Swanson said.

Peterson concurred, saying that school next week for Olympic View students is expected to mirror the first week of school in September, with everyone getting used to the new arrangements.

The district held three open houses on Friday afternoon, one at each temporary school site, to acclimate students and parents to the new surroundings.

Additionally, Olympic view fourth-graders have been granted a one-week extension by the state to complete the Washington Assessment of Student Learning test, which all other fourth-graders in the state began this past week.

The school board also approved a request to the state that, if approved, would provide Olympic View students an exemption from having to make up the lost school days this week.

You can reach News-Times reporter Christine Smith at csmith@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611

Community Events, April 2014

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