District restructures departments to save

Revisions to targeted operations are cutting costs for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The pools, warehouse, transportation and Student Nutritional Service departments have been reorganized, including the elimination of one position, to reduce spending.

The changes, most of which took effect on July 1, were approved by the Board of Education through the 2016 Fiscal Year budget in April, said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff.

The reorganization of pool operations resulted in a $200,000 reduction in expenditures this year, according to the budget. Erkeneff said the cost savings for other departments is not immediately available.

Reviewing pool operations to “maximize efficiencies” was a task requested by the board for administration to accomplish last year, she said.

“With the consolidation of pool operations to the district planning and operations department, one pool manager position in the central peninsula was eliminated,” Erkeneff said. “The central peninsula pools are now managed as a whole with shared staff between the three sites. Pool operations are being expanded to utilize all the pools more efficiently.”

A districtwide pool supervisor position, which has existed since 2008, now oversees the purchasing of chemicals and supplies, sets hours of operation, and monitors staffing levels districtwide, all of which was previously completed at the individual pool sites, Erkeneff said.

“We previously had a pool manager in every building and supervisor out of every office,” said board member Dan Castimore. “Basically, we now have one person in one of the buildings that has more job duties and reduced staff, which is good.”

Castimore said he was generally pleased with the revisions. Consolidating the positions led to staff reductions, decreasing how much it costs to keep the pool open.

“By sharing resources, the goal is to have each pool utilized to the fullest extent possible,” Erkeneff said. “Instead of individual staff at each site, we are pooling staff to reduce costs and keep the pools open more often.”

The transportation department also saw restructuring.

Long-time Department Coordinator Nan Spooner retired at the end of last year, and the position will not be filled, Erkeneff said.

“It was an opportunity to review the transportation department, duties and goals,” Erkeneff said.

Two new positions have been created in the place of Spooner’s old job, Erkeneff said.

A transportation supervisor, who will oversee the entire department, will be assisted by a part-time support position with “activity travel and transport,” Erkeneff said. Previously, two full-time employees managed “home-to-school, special needs and activity transport, as well as managing the district’s own fleet of buses,” she said.

Warehouse operations are being similarly consolidated.

The general district freight trucks and Student Nutritional Services trucks will now be located in the same building, as will inventory, all of which will be overseen by one supervisor, Erkeneff said. General district purchasing will now handle all nutritional services transitions as well.

“We anticipate vendor contract management will improve as general district purchasing staff will have the time and expertise to stay in contact with vendors and ensure contract compliance,” Erkeneff said.

The directors of the planning and operations and finance departments, as well as Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones, worked to find the changes that would have the most financial impacts, Erkeneff said. Throughout the year, school district administration will monitor the progress and effectiveness of the changes, she said.

Castimore said he saw the revisions as “major changes that will happen once a year.” He said he does not expect any more discussions until January when the Fiscal Year 2017 budget discussions come up.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough school board will meet at Homer High School beginning at 6 p.m. Sept. 8. The meeting originally had been planned for Sept. 14.