Back to School – Superintendent’s Welcome

On behalf of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District it is my pleasure to welcome you to the 2013-14 school year. After 10 weeks of summer break it is time for our students to resume their education journey. By extension, August means that it also is time for our community to reengage with our schools and to offer, as it can, support for our students; thank you in advance for doing this. It was a busy summer at the District Office with a lot of time spent reviewing last year’s performance data. Generally, the vast majority of our students continue to make good progress toward graduation and perform well above the averages on our state’s standardized tests. As we look ahead, I am pleased that we have made several improvements that should help our students find greater academic success.

First, is the good progress that was made toward meeting the goals of our strategic plan. You are able to view this progress through a link on our website. The coordinated effort by our schools to meet the plan’s goals is impressive. Second, is the continued refinement of our certified staff’s evaluation system. Each year we make small adjustments to the system and add a new layer of training for our principals. I am pleased that this process and our good level of teacher collaboration are leading to improvements in instruction. A third item of note that is tied to instruction is our curriculum development process. In response to new state standards and a need for more student learning data we improved this process to produce a tighter guide that includes quarterly assessments. The assessments will provide a standardized district level source of feedback to help us determine how well our students are mastering the taught standards. Finally, the borough made numerous upgrades to our facilities including the completion of several reroofing projects. 

All of us at KPBSD strive to keep you, our stakeholders, informed about all of our operations; this is a responsibility that we take seriously. Our website is our main source of this communication and is in a constant state of change with postings of new information. We will continue to provide school district information to you through Facebook, Twitter and my blog. In addition, your school newsletters and other district publications will keep you up to speed on what is going on with KPBSD. Also of note with communication is that we are considering creating a KPBSD App.

In the Homer area, we welcome back our teachers, nurses, custodians, bus drivers, and food service professionals—they are the backbone of our school district’s success. I am pleased to welcome the following principals to the southern Peninsula: Eric Pederson, Paul Banks Elementary; Keri Dendurent, Homer Middle School; Nancy Kleine, Port Graham; Allison Mall, assistant principal Homer High School; Judy Standafer, Susan B. English; and Doug Waclawski, Homer High School. We also have three new administrators at the District Office: Christine Ermold, director of elementary education; Melissa Linton, curriculum and assessment coordinator; and Joann Riener, director of human resources.

We invite parents and community members to join us by volunteering in the schools and becoming involved in partnerships to support students. Schools need the help of parents and community members to be successful with each student.  It also is critical for our students to know that their parents, guardians, relatives, and friends are supportive of their schooling process. A student without this support may at times feel at a loss to find the necessary focus to excel at his or her studies. 

Please let your principal know of recommendations that you may have for improvement at your school or for the district; we are always receptive to hearing your thoughts. I hope to see you in the coming months and wish you a great start to the school year. We anxiously await the return of our students and look forward to another outstanding school year.


Steve Atwater, Ph.D., Superintendent