Kelly Sullivan

KPC makes deep cuts in 2017 budget

Now that the 2016 legislative session is over, Kenai Peninsula College Director Gary Turner has had to implement the budget reductions he had planned for both the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years in 2017.

The current 2016-17 school year at KPC’s Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer has not been significantly impacted, said Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College Director Carol Swartz. There have been reductions in travel and supply budgets, but all changes to personnel and classes this year have nothing to do with the budget.

KPBSD community can connect through app

2,014 parents, staff, students and community members have been using their phones as another platform to access the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District events and activities.

School district liaison Pegge Erkeneff headed development of the platform, which among other avenues allows users to subscribe to school calendar information, sports scores and schedules, social media sites and communications updates.

District faces $1 million deficit

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is now facing a nearly $1 million deficit for the next school year. 

While the Legislature restored a base student allocation increase that had been eliminated in the eleventh hour a budget conference committee, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly chose not to fund the entire maximum allowable contribution, escalating the school district’s projected deficit from $200,000.

Waiver sought for K-Selo match

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre hopes to set a precedent for construction in rural areas starting with the K-12 Kachemak Selo replacement school the legislature agreed to fund this session. 

Navarre will look to lessen or waive the local match required to receive state support entirely, and for flexibility on building size standards. 

School testing delayed after cable sliced

Students statewide were unable to start the Alaska Measures of Progress and Alaska Alternate assessments Tuesday, the first day scheduled for this year’s round of testing.

A construction vehicle at the University of Kansas, which houses the testing vendor, the Achievement and Assessment Institute, drove over and sliced a fiber optic cable, shutting down the Internet across campus and cutting off Alaska’s access to the test servers.

Kachemak Selo still waiting on state

The staff and students at Kachemak Selo School are still waiting to hear whether there will be room in next year’s budget for a new building.

The K-12 replacement facility is sitting at the top of the Alaska Department of Early Education and Development FY17 construction grant list, and was placed on Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed FY17 capital budget, but hasn’t been addressed this session so far.

Women find place to discuss their roles in agriculture

While more women are turning up soil in the agriculture industry, they are unearthing a unique set of challenges.

Some are looking for new methods to cultivate and market their products a little differently than their male counterparts, while others are seeking ways to balance raising a family and running a farm. Many steer toward each other for an extra hand in navigation.

School district compliant with immunization rules

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District was found to be 100 percent compliant in ensuring students without exemptions are vaccinated.

Superintendent Sean Dusek announced at the March 8 Board of Education meeting that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services sampled 800 immunization records in the annual school audits completed early this year.

School board prepares to vote on lean budget

With less than a month from the vote, Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education members report they plan to approve the school district’s budget — though not without uneasiness.

Spending for next year has been reduced by $4.5 million from the current fiscal year, and further allocations or cuts from the state level are still uncertain.

“I think that what they have done is realistic,” said board member Marty Anderson. “You never want to lose programs.”

Schools see more students with intensive needs

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will receive $1.2 million more from the state than originally estimated for the current school year.

Unexpected enrollment increases in the Connections Home School Program and number of intensive needs students floated the extra funding.

“Students who qualify for intensive needs funding require more assistance,” said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.

Board names ‘Zen’ Kelly to empty seat

The Board of Education has found a representative for southern Kenai Peninsula residents.

John “Zen” Kelly will be filling the District 9 seat left unoccupied for nearly two months since 12-year member Sunni Hilts served at her last meeting in early December. The Texan-turned-Alaskan has a family history of long-time educators, including his father who worked as a superintendent and mother who was a teacher.

District, associations schedule arbitration

The next time the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators and the support staff and teacher associations meet for negotiations will be in the presence of an advisory arbitrator.

A hearing with Gary Axon, an Oregon-based arbitrator jointly selected by the three teams, is scheduled for June 1-2. On that date it will be nearly 14 months since collective bargaining began for contracts that were supposed to take effect July 1, 2015.

School district faces increase in class sizes

Budget constraints might mean all but two of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s 44 schools will have more students and fewer teachers in the classroom next year.

Administrators are recommending the board of education raise the pupil-teacher ratio at all sites other than Kenai Alternative and Homer Flex high schools through the preliminary fiscal year 2017 budget, which Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones presented at the Jan. 11 board meeting. 

Other factors would compound the changes.

AMP tests under scrutiny

Some legislators are seeking an end to the Alaska Measures of Progress and Alaska Alternate Assessment tests. Rep. Jim Colver, R-Palmer, sponsored House Bill 232, which would prohibit the Department of Early Education and Development from administering the assessments, which nearly 73,000 students in the state’s 54 public school districts took for the first time in spring 2015.

School district, associations stuck on health care

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, support staff and teacher associations met again Jan. 13 to discuss the unresolved issue of health care for contract negotiations that began nearly one year ago.

Anchorage-based lawyer Saul Friedman, who represents the school district negotiating team, turned down the Kenai Peninsula Education and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations’ joint proposal from Oct. 14 as it stood, and made a counter offer.

Deadline to apply for board seat extended to Jan. 20

Interested applicants still have time to apply for the open Board of Education District 9-South Peninsula seat that serves some areas of Homer, Nanwalek, Port Graham and Seldovia.

The deadline has been extended until Jan. 20 at 5 p.m., because no one applied prior to the previously set Dec. 29, 2015, cutoff to fill the position vacated in December by 12-year member Sunni Hilts.

District closer to hiking fees for school-pool use

The price to use Kenai Peninsula Borough School District-owned pools may rise soon.

Administrators are developing a proposed list of fee increases that must first be approved by the Board of Education. Any changes would stand for the next two-to-three school years to offset the expected funding cuts from the state, and the nearly $750,000 deficit facility operations rack up annually.

Kachemak Selo replacement school ranks No. 1 on state’s tentative capital projects list

There is a good chance the 63 unhoused students at Kachemak Selo School will get a new building.

The K-12 Kachemak Selo replacement school is ranked as the top priority on the Alaska Department of Early Education and Development preliminary FY17 school construction grant money list.

The initial agency decision was released last Thursday, with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s funding request for an 18,599-square-foot educational facility 9.5 points ahead of the next-highest ranked priority.

School district hosts first budget meetings

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is crowdsourcing for a second year to assist with budget development.

Superintendent Sean Dusek and Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones held a crash course on the sources and uses of available funds for the fiscal year 2017, broadcast with Microsoft Lync videoconferencing to 23 school sites Oct. 22. The two administrators explained the school district is virtually dependent on state and local allocations.

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