School district agenda appears to be murky | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

In the spring of this year, the school district announced that it had a budget shortfall, and that one of the considerations for saving money would be to close the Commodore Options building, home of Odyssey first-sixth grade, Odyssey 7th-8th grade, Eagle Harbor High School, and Mosaic Home School, relocating these programs somewhere else, dismissing the principal of these programs, and office support staff.

After an outcry from the involved parents/children, the school board decided to address the immediate shortfall with layoffs and began a Commodore Options advisory committee, consisting of one parent and one teacher representative from each affected program, including Ordway Elementary school, the proposed site where many of these programs would be relocated.

The agenda for these meetings was set by the district, the data collected regarding the needs of each program was carefully choreographed, and despite the district collecting 500 pages of data, each program could not even express what their top priority was for their program.

Instead, the district proceeded to generate six different reconfiguration plans (with various “winners” and “losers” among the programs e.g. entire programs in portable buildings; separation of the fifth and sixth grade of Odyssey from the first-fourth grades in some of the schemes; Eagle Harbor High School crammed into a remodeled Commodore lunchroom/boardroom in a few of the schemes). In the meantime, the district enrollment unexpectedly increased by slightly over 300 childrenthis year, relieving the budgetary pressure.

The school board has not decided which of these reconfiguration plans to proceed with, if any.

Any of them would be a temporary move, as the longer-term plan is to create an integrated Ordway-Options campus, and demolish these remodeled spaces. It doesn’t seem like a good use of taxpayer money to remodel something that will be demolished in the near future. It definitely is not conducive to “social and emotional health” of the students (which the district is emphasizing this year) to disrupt Ordway, Odyssey 1-6, Odyssey 7-8, Eagle Harbor High School, El Velero Spanish Immersion program, and the Mosaic home schooling program for a temporary “fix” to a problem that no longer exists.

This process has been the stressful for the students and parents alike, and I can’t imagine how the taxpayers will react to their dollars being used for remodeling/reconfiguring that has no long-term future.

Why is this still being discussed? What is the district’s real agenda?

SHERRI WILSON

Bainbridge Island

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