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.

“It can’t be better than rank ‘No. 1,’” said borough Capital Projects Department Director Kevin Lyon.

If funded, the nearly $17 million-estimated project will house the students currently taking classes in three separate school district-leased buildings located in the Fox River Census Area roughly 30 miles outside Homer.

Lyon said it is still possible the project will not go forward.

“The Legislature still has to find the money,” Lyon said. “It is technically possible they won’t fund anything so it will be interesting to watch.”

There are 18 projects on the department’s initial list. The number of unhoused students, conditions of the facilities and cost of the projects factor into the initial and final scores. The school district’s request includes a nearly $10.9 million request for funding from the state, which the Department of Early Education has approved. The Kenai Peninsula Borough will make up the remaining nearly $5.9 million for the new school.

Kachemak Selo was ranked number one on the FY16 list, but was bumped from the top at the last minute by the Kivalina K-12 replacement school in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, one of five projects the state was required to complete through the 2011 Kasayulie v. State Consent Decree and Settlement Agreement litigation.

Right now, the 11 school districts that have submitted applications for the grant have a little more than one month to appeal the department’s decision, Lyon said. On Dec. 15 the final list will be released, he said.

Kelly Sullivan is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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