News

Sick school ruled out for Broad View students

By P. CHRISTINE SMITH

Staff reporter

The Oak Harbor School Board will soon need to decide where to put the Broad View Elementary student body next school year while the campus is remodeled.

It definitely will not be the old North Whidbey Middle School interim site, even if the testing on the suspected “sick school” comes back clean.

A transition committee made up of district employees is set to present its findings to the district superintendent, Rick Schulte, who will bring it to the board at its next regular meeting June 11.

“We intend on having our options to the board the next board meeting,” said Gary Goltz, construction manager for the district.

As of now, it looks like the most viable and cost-effective recommendation for the district will be to disperse the Broad View student body as much as possible throughout the district’s five other elementary schools. The committee has identified enough space in the other schools to accomodate nearly all the Broad View students. However, the second part of this option would probably require using a few portable classroom buildings, Goltz said, although the number and type is not yet determined.

While the district budgeted moving the Broad View student body to the interim school site, the district and board are trying to find ways to cover the cost increase of moving the students to alternate sites and possibly renting or purchasing the portables, said Kathy Jones, board president.

Even before the emergency closing of the interim school site in April, the district had recognized a need for obtaining portable classrooms, Jones said. Any portables obtained for the Broad View relocation can be used later at other schools.

However, it is unclear where the money will come from to pay for the portables. “It is a challenge,” Jones said. However, she was able to identify a few options, including a portion of I-728 funds that the district expects to receive next year, the capital projects budget, selling bonds to finance the acquisition, and considering a delay in the demolition of the old North Whidbey Middle School.

“The cost of a demo is significant,” Jones said. While the demolition of the old building might be delayed in order to use those funds for the Broad View relocation, that building will not be used for students, Jones said.

The district performed an informal survey of Broad View parents, asking that if a top-notch expert tested the old North Whidbey Middle School and then proclaimed it to be healthy, would the parents want to send their kids to school there. It has been theorized that mold in the old school has been making teachers and students ill.

“There wasn’t anyone in the room that said they would,” Jones said.

While Broad View students might be dispersed throughout a number of locations next school year, the division will probably be made along grade levels, and each location will maintain its own “Broad View community” within the other schools, Jones said.

The transition committee is continuing to work on other issues that will be affected by the dispersing of the Broad View student body, such as how to utilize shared resources such as the library, how to keep the ACE program together, and how to meet bus transportation needs.

The parent committee and the transition committee are expected to meet again to work on details within the coming week, Goltz said.

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