Category Archives: Schools

Candidates begin filing for local elections

While the island’s City Council and school board have a handful of seats on this year’s election ballot, there is only one race where multiple candidate have filed.

City Council
Susan Bergen and Kol Medina have filed for the North Ward to replace Anne Blair, who is not running for reelection.
Pegeen Mulhern has filed for the at-large seat to replace Steve Bonkowski, who also announced he is not running for reelection.
Michael Scott, appointed to the Central Ward earlier this year, and Sarah Blossom, who represents the South Ward, are running for their current seats.

School Board
Mev Hoberg and Tim Kinkead have filed for reelection and do not have any opponents as of Wednesday morning.
Patty Fielding will not be running for reelection to the school board, and Lynn Smith has filed for Fiedling’s position.

Candidates have until the end of the business day Friday to file.

Community resource officer could help mend relationships with residents

 Bainbridge Island Police Department evidence technician Jennifer Cooper, Lt. Chris Jensen and Reserve Officer Mark Crowthers inspect ammunition turned in by a Bainbridge resident in 2013. TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN
Bainbridge Island Police Department evidence technician Jennifer Cooper, Lt. Chris Jensen and Reserve Officer Mark Crowthers inspect ammunition turned in by a Bainbridge resident. TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN

Bainbridge Island Police Department is looking to improve its once rocky relationship with residents through a designated community resource officer.

“When you have that good relationship of trust between officers and the community, we’re more effective,” said Police Chief Matthew Hamner.

City Council unanimously gave the department the go-ahead to apply for a federal grant that would cover 75 percent of the $100,000 annual salary and benefits of the community resource officer for three years. The department would cover the full cost the fourth year.

The community resource officer would be responsible for community related events and programs with the department, such as the citizen police academy, neighborhood watches and the police youth advisory group.

The community resource officer would be a liaison for the island schools, although it would be up to the schools how often the officer meets with students.

While the district has been without a school resource officer for more than a decade, there might not be a great demand for one just yet.

The district recently determined students and parents felt safe at the schools based on surveys and meetings with the police department, said Galen Crawford, communications specialist with Bainbridge Island School District.

Although residents don’t have a safety concern for the schools, community trust in the police department was waning and the City Council was split on whether to support a school resource officer before Hamner became chief in June 2013.

In May 2011, the council stalled in a 3-3 vote to apply for a school resource officer grant.

The city manager at the time, Brenda Bauer, blamed a Facebook post by Officer Michelle Vollmer for turning the council against the grant, a post Vollmer said was a joke.

Vollmer’s Facebook comment was one of a string of issues the Bainbridge Island Police faced.

In October 2010, a Bainbridge officer shot and killed a mentally ill man during a welfare check, ending in a $1.4 million lawsuit settlement and a federal jury finding the city and then Police Chief Jon Fehlman at fault for not providing enough training for handling situations with mentally ill residents.

Another officer — president of the Bainbridge police guild at the time — was accused of harassing City Council members the same month as the fatal shooting.

During the summer of 2011, the department hired a volunteer reserve officer — giving him a badge and the authority to carry a gun — who had a criminal history, including a misdemeanor assault charge and a weapons charge.

City Council learned about the reserve officer’s background a couple months after he was hired, and he was asked to resign.

Fehlman was the Bainbridge Island police chief during each of these issues. He resigned in September 2012.

Public support for the police department has been increasing, Hamner said, citing the council’s approval for a community resource officer and the police department having more residents apply for the citizen police academy than there were spots available.

“I think the chief has shown he has the best interest of this community and our children at hand time and time again,” said resident Dominique Cantwell, a former board member of the Bainbridge Youth Services.

A full story on the community resource officer grant will be available on the Kitsap Sun website.

This post has been updated to include a response from the school district.

Residents still torn over Suzuki property

While residents packed into a standing-room-only city council meeting Tuesday night to share suggestions on what to do with the city-owned Suzuki property, no action was taken and no new ideas were discussed by the council.

The property at the southeast corner of New Brooklyn and Sportsman Club Roads by Woodward Middle School is forested and has several trails. There are no wetlands, streams or steep slopes. There is a pond, but because it is man-made it does not meet the definition of a “critical area” under the city’s codes.

Residents continue to be torn between leaving the 13.83 acres of undeveloped land as is, using it for affordable housing, or allowing the school to use it for possible expansion in the future or outdoor education.

All of these ideas had previously been discussed at a public workshop last fall, where the Housing Resources Board, Housing Kitsap, Cutler Anderson Architects and Arcstudio each presented preliminary concepts to more than 100 residents.

According to multiple options presented to the city, the site could have anywhere from 45 to 75 housing units if developed.

Only 30 affordable units have been created on the island since 2002.

In 2000, the city purchased the land as a site for a police station and courthouse. Since then it was decided the property was too close to schools for a police station.

Some residents were concerned about increased traffic problems near the school with more housing.

Help us rank the top 10 Islander stories of 2014

The tugboat Pacific Knight helps maneuver the state ferry Tacoma to the Bainbridge Island dock after it lost power while making the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bainbridge on July 29, 2014. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

We are asking readers to rank the top Bainbridge Islander stories from this past year in a survey. The top 10 will be posted on this blog.

You can take the survey here.

If you need to refresh your memory on a story,  they are listed below in no particular order with links:


Eagle Harbor High student leads Commodore students in anti-bullying effort

After struggling with being bullied in elementary and middle school, Eagle Harbor High School junior Otis Doxtater created a program that helps students learn tolerance, unity and kindness.

Otis’ efforts inspired many students Tuesday when he led the Commodore K-12 Options School student body and employees in an anti-bullying program.

Prior to a morning assembly, Otis visited classrooms with a strip of orange paper for each student. The students wrote what made them special on one side of the paper and on the other described what things they would do to stop bullying. The classrooms then created a chain of orange links, which later were connected with the rest of the school’s classes during a silent lunchroom procession.

Otis is known to many island residents for holding an anti-bullying sign near the Bainbridge McDonald’s restaurant on High School Road, off State Route 305. With “Stop Bullying” on one side and “Love and Equality” on the other, the signs elicited support and people wanting to talk to him about bullying.

“At Eagle Harbor High School everyone knows everyone and people are very accepting,” Otis said in a news release published by the Bainbridge Island School District. “I really found the right fit here. Now I want to help others feel they can talk freely about bullying prevention and know their actions can make a difference.”

Otis’ efforts coincide with the eighth annual National Unity Day on Wednesday (Oct. 22), which encourages schools, businesses and communities to come together against bullying and unite by wearing orange with a message of support, hope and unity.

Bainbridge school district today will honor three retiring employees

Contributed photo / BISD Cami Dombkowski retires after 24 years with the BISD.
Contributed photo / BISD
Cami Dombkowski retires after 24 years with the BISD.
Contributed photo / BISD Bob Houk retires after 28 years with the Bainbridge school district.
Contributed photo / BISD
Bob Houk retires after 28 years with the Bainbridge school district.
Contributed photo / BISD BISD Kathy Roberts retires after 30 years in public education, including her last 13 years with BISD.
Contributed photo / BISD
BISD Kathy Roberts retires after 30 years in public education, including her last 13 years with BISD.

Combined, Bainbridge Island School District employees Cami Dombkowski, Bob Houk and Kathy Roberts worked 82 years in public education and today from 3:30 to 5 p.m. the district will honor and recognize the well-known trio with a reception in the Bainbridge High School Commons.

The three will retire from the BISD Friday.

Dombkowski, human resources and transportation director, retires after serving the school district since 1990.


Houk, lead custodian, came to the district in 1986.


Roberts, administrative assistant to Superintendent Faith Chapel, started working for the district in 2001, after spending 17 years with Everett Public Schools.

Bainbridge selling old math textbooks

Want an old math textbook?

The Bainbridge Island School District will be unloading all its old kindergarten through eighth grade math books to families of district students from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, July 10, at the Commodore Options School, located at 9530 N.E. High School Road.

Books – which are at least four years old and could be as old as 10 – will be on sale from 50 cents to $1, district accounting specialist Julie Gray said.

The need to purge the old math textbooks followed the Bainbridge School Board’s adoption of a new K-8 math curriculum. In the June 26 board meeting, a consent agenda item was passed to dispose of surplus district property.

After the July 10 sale to district families, the books will be available for purchase to other school districts on July 14-15, Gray said. The remaining books will then be shipped to the state’s surplus facility in Olympia, the Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, likely sometime in the fall, Gray added.

For more information about the math textbook sale, contact Gray at 206-780-1063 or through email at

Roberts to retire from Bainbridge school district in August

After working 13 years for the Bainbridge Island School District, Kathy Roberts will be retiring at the end of August to close her 30-year career in K-12 public education.

Roberts, administrative assistant to Superintendent Faith Chapel, worked 17 years for Everett Public Schools prior to being hired by Bainbridge.

“It’s hard to leave my second family who are the staff, students and administrators of the Bainbridge Island School District,” Roberts said after Thursday’s School Board meeting.

O’Neill named interim Bainbridge High principal

Following Bainbridge High Principal Jake Haley accepting a principal position at Costa Mesa High School in California, Bainbridge Island School District named Mary Alice O’Neill as the school’s interim principal for the 2014-15 school year. She will start July 1.

O’Neill was the associate principal at BHS from 1999 to 2001 and Woodward Middle’s principal from 2001 to 2009. She currently works as a teacher on special assignment.

“I’m excited to fill this important role,” O’Neill said in a news release. “I believe we have one of the finest high schools in the state. I’m looking forward to working with the amazing students, the talented and caring staff, as well as the supportive parent community.”

O’Neill has worked as an educator for more than 30 years in Kitsap County, California and Kuwait. She holds a bachelor of arts and masters of education from the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

“We’re thrilled to have Mary Alice rejoin the district in this critical role,” Superintendent Faith Chapel said. “She is a skilled and experienced principal and understands the needs of our district.”

Haley will work through the end of the school year before starting his new job in California July 1.

Last month, Amii Pratt was named the new associate principal at Sakai Intermediate School. The half-time administrative position – which was cut in 2011 – is being reinstated as a result of the district’s increased enrollment and changes in administrative roles and responsibilities. She’ll start her new job July 1.

“Amii has excelled in a number of instructional and leadership roles in the district, and she is highly regarded by those who have worked with her,” Chapel said.

Pratt brings 11 years of educational experience to this new position. She taught first and second grades at Wilkes and Ordway Elementary Schools and second grade at Ogden Elementary in Vancouver, Wash. She also served as a K-5 English Language Learner coordinator in Vancouver for two years.

Currently, Pratt is a K-5 English language arts teacher on special assignment and is a principal intern at Blakely Elementary. She has designed and led professional development sessions and co-facilitated the Teacher Evaluation Committee for the Bainbridge Island School District.

She graduated in 2001 from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in science and a year later earned a master’s degree in teaching from OSU. In 2008, she achieved her National Board Certification, a rigorous and advanced teaching credential. This year, she received her Initial Principal and Program Administrator Certificate from the University of Washington’s Danforth Educational Leadership Program.

Contributed photo Amii Pratt recently was named the new associate principal at Sakai Intermediate School.
Contributed photo
Amii Pratt recently was named the new associate principal at Sakai Intermediate School.

UPDATE: Bainbridge High principal to take reins of California school

Contributed photo “This has been one of the most challenging and difficult decisions that I've had to make in my professional career,” says Jake Haley, who could officially become Costa Mesa High School's new principal on Tuesday.
Contributed photo
“This has been one of the most challenging and difficult decisions that I’ve had to make in my professional career,” says Jake Haley, who could officially become Costa Mesa High School’s new principal on Tuesday.

***Story updated 11 p.m. May 13 to reflect Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s Board of Education voting 7-0 on Tuesday night for Jake Haley to be Costa Mesa High School’s new principal.


Being closer to family who live in California will likely take Bainbridge High School Principal Jake Haley back to the Golden State, where he worked from 2005 to 2010.

Haley was named officially the new principal of Costa Mesa High School after the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s Board of Education voted 7-0 for his hiring at Tuesday’s meeting. Haley will start July 1.

Haley would replace Phil D’Agostino, who left in March to become the district’s director of student services, the Daily Pilot website reported.

“His background is in educational leadership, mathematics, special education and athletics,” the Newport-Mesa Unified School District news release stated of Haley. “He expresses a passion and commitment to instructional leadership, a desire to meet the individual needs of students and staff, and, exhibits the ability to build relationships balanced with a sense of humor.”

Costa Mesa High School ranked 131st in California and 650th nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s best high school rankings in its recently released 8th annual list of more than 19,400 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Costa Mesa, a seventh through 12th grade school, has a total enrollment of 1,693 students.

Haley’s roots run deep on Bainbridge Island. He entered Wilkes Elementary as a kindergartener and attended BISD schools until he graduated from high school in 1993. He was Bainbridge High’s student body vice president his junior year and student body president the following year.

After earning an undergraduate degree from Whitworth University, Haley was hired as a BHS math teacher in 1997, a position he kept through the 2005 school year. During those years, he also served as the Spartans’ assistant football and assistant boys basketball coach.

“This has been one of the most challenging and difficult decisions that I’ve had to make in my professional career,” said Haley, who will continue to work as the BHS principal through the end of the school year. “For 28 years, Bainbridge has been my home as I’ve evolved as a student, teacher, coach and principal. I will deeply miss the students and staff of Bainbridge High School who have enriched my life in countless ways.”

Haley left Bainbridge in 2005 to become the head football coach for El Toro High School in Lake Forest, Calif. He guided the Chargers to a pair of 5-6 records his first two seasons, a 6-6 mark in 2007 and a 2-8 campaign in 2008, according to

He then was hired as an associate principal for Laguna Hills High School in Orange County, where he worked during the 2009-10 school year. Haley returned to Bainbridge in 2010 when he was hired as Bainbridge High’s associate principal. Last July, he was named the school’s new principal.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Bainbridge the sixth best high school in Washington and 276th best nationally. Last year, BHS was ranked seventh in the state and 274th nationally.

“Jake is an outstanding educator who has made significant contributions to our district as a student leader, teacher and administrator,” Bainbridge Superintendent Faith Chapel said. “He will be greatly missed by everyone who has worked with him.”

Chapel said the Bainbridge Island School District will start making decisions on replacing Haley in the next few days and will announce those plans through the district’s Listserv email service.

Magazine ranks BHS 6th in state, 276th nationally

U.S. News & World Report ranked Bainbridge High School the sixth best high school in the state and 276th best nationally in its recently released eighth annual rankings of more than 19,400 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Last year, BHS was ranked seventh in the state and 274th nationally in the magazine’s “Best High Schools Rankings.”

Only 133 Washington state schools made the magazine’s 2014 list. Eligibility for the list required school’s garnering a national gold or silver medal; Bainbridge won a gold medal.

Kirkland’s International Community School was ranked the top school in the state, followed by Bellevue’s Community School, Bellevue High, Newport (Bellevue) High and Interlake (Bellevue) High.

Des Moines’ Aviation High, Seattle’s Roosevelt High, Seattle’s Garfield High and Winthrop’s Liberty Bell Junior/Senior High rounded out the state’s top 10.

Dallas’ School for the Talented and Gifted in Dallas, Texas, earned the top honors nationally, followed by BASIS Scottsdale in Arizona and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Kirkland’s International Community School was ranked the highest nationally in the state at No. 13.

According to information the magazine posted online, Bainbridge High has a 67 percent participation rate in Advanced Placement course work. Out of its total enrollment of 1,309, 50 percent of the student body is made up of males, and it has a total minority enrollment of 11 percent.

Youth summits bridge gaps between generations

Contributed photo / Grayson Wildsmith Peter Lindsey rebuilding the mailbox for the elderly couple.
Contributed photo / Grayson Wildsmith
Peter Lindsey rebuilds a mailbox for an elderly Bainbridge Island couple.

An elderly couple were in a bind and needed help immediately.

After discovering their mailbox had been smashed during a weekend prank, the couple called Bainbridge Youth Services seeking help because they couldn’t get their mail delivered to them and they were too feeble to fix the box themselves.

Bainbridge High juniors Peter Lindsey and Grayson Wildsmith were recruited by the agency to donate five hours on a Saturday to rebuild the mailbox.

“They had to mix the cement, place the new mailbox beam in the cement and then fasten the mailbox to the beam,” said Marina Cofer-Wildsmith, executive director of Bainbridge Youth Services, which is housed in the high school. “All this done without any spotlight on their work. No community service hours expected, no payment … they did it just because. The couple were so grateful.”

Cofer-Wildsmith shared the story of Lindsey and Wildsmith on the heels of the successful three session Healthy Youth Summit, which was sponsored by Bainbridge Youth Services, Raising Resilience, Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island and the Bainbridge Island School District.

After attracting more than 60 participants and community leaders for the first stakeholders meeting in September, the first summit in November garnered 171 participants. The next three-hour meeting in January had 168 participants and the third in March tallied 101 people. More than 50 youth participated in all three events, but approximately 200 youth voices helped shape the direction of the conversations as a result of youth surveys.

The meetings meant a great deal to Dave Cinamon, whose daughter attends Bainbridge High.

“I left each event with a feeling of relief, happiness and optimism, having learned more about this stage of my daughter’s life,” said Cinamon, an architect on the island. “I loved each event – being with other parents, and listening to great speakers and educators explain how a teenager’s brain is developing during these years.”

Bainbridge School District Superintendent Faith Chapel said she found the meetings “very effective.”

“Over the years, I’ve participated in many discussions about adolescents,” Chapel said. “Without a doubt, these were the most constructive and substantive sessions I’ve experienced. Each segment was unique in its format and content, and the speakers and facilitators were very effective.”

Cezanne Allen, board chair for Raising Resilience, and Cofer-Wildsmith said the motivation for the Healthy Youth Summit was simple: engaging both youth and adults. After starting with teens telling them through survey data that “we aren’t happy” and that adults “put too much pressure on us making a decision for the future,” the teens moved to “give us a voice” and “please redefine success – congratulate us for who we are, not what we do.”

“Our expectations for these summits were more than met, as we engaged all facets of our community and built momentum for ongoing conversation and action,” Allen said. “The dialogue between youth and adults in the room opened up rich understanding, trust and respect on both sides. Common community-driven values were articulated and 100 committed adults and youth worked together to design action steps to move our community from good to great.”

As a result of the summits, Cofer-Wildsmith said she hoped to implement methods to improve the way island adults “engage, empower and listen to our youth.”

“We are trying to establish a community movement where we look at how we behave and interact with our youth differently – supporting their strengths and less focusing on their deficits,” Cofer-Wildsmith said.

Allen said perceptions between Bainbridge adults and youth have changed following the meetings and that the conversation will continue.

“We are working to support the action groups that emerged and to empower and bring leaders from a wide variety of sectors together to create a common agenda for action to support healthy youth development,” Allen said. “We will plan a follow-up summit next year to consolidate our learnings and track our progress.”


Here’s some of the achievements that came as a result of the three community Healthy Youth Summits:

— Bainbridge Police Chief Matthew Hamner starting a Youth Advisory Committee.

— Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council are planning to add a youth board member.

— Senior Center discussion youth technology mentorship for seniors.

— Parent-driven youth mentor program established.

— Bainbridge Youth Services launching a paid summer internship program.


***Editor’s Note: This story was published in the April 11 Islander section, but since it wasn’t available online we are posting it to this blog as well.