Bainbridge Island School District Superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen, along with Mairead Shutt, executive director of the Bainbridge Schools Foundation, recently hosted another session of “Coffee with the Superintendent” at the Bainbridge Public Library.
The coffee klatch was a continuation of the “listening tour” that Bang-Knudsen launched when he took over as district superintendent two years ago.
More than a dozen Islanders dropped in for an overview of what’s happening in Bainbridge schools, and Bang-Knudsen fielded questions on topics as varied as student emotional health, to school enrollment, to the reasons behind the Washington Supreme Court’s McCleary decision.
Bang-Knudsen said the theme for 2018 is “the year of optimism.”
He told about his visits to schools every week, and Bang-Knudsen recalled how impressed he’s been on the quality of teaching and learning in the island’s public schools.
Another big theme this year is capital projects, and Bang-Knudsen said the district will be breaking ground on a new Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary School in February.
The district will also begin a larger conversation later this year about the main campus of Bainbridge High, with that look extending out 15 to 20 years. That discussion will include the future of the Commodore and Ordway buildings, and it will bring in the Bainbridge parks district as park officials chart the path for improved pool facilities.
Financially, the school district is in a better place than just a year ago, when talk focused on cutbacks and layoffs.
“We’re in strong financial health,” Bang-Knudsen said.
And next year, with more funding from the state for reduced class sizes in the K-3 levels, the district will be looking to hire an additional seven to eight new teachers.