School district to begin replacing classroom technology following board approval

The district will purchase 103 new boards in the current fiscal year

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will update its aging classroom technology in a major way following approval by the Board of Education on Monday. Over the next four years, the district will spend about $2.18 million to replace all 426 classroom display devices. That fleet of technology includes 109 SMART Interactive Flat Panels and 317 SMART Projectors.

Most of that technology was introduced to Kenai Peninsula schools in fiscal year 2009, when the district used money from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the purchase. That’s according to KPBSD Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes, who outlined a four-year replacement plan in a May 10 memo to board members.

More than 10 years later, that technology is showing signs of age.

SMART panels look kind of like giant iPads. Board President Zen Kelly compared them during Monday’s meeting to a chalkboard or whiteboard, but pointed out that they’re a lot more powerful. Kelly said his wife, who’s a teacher, frequently talks about broken features.

“It’s time for a technology refresh and I think this is the way to go,” Kelly said Monday.

In the first year of the district’s four-year replacement plan, about $530,000 will be used to purchase 103 new boards for classrooms. The district also plans to spend about $530,000 on 104 boards in the following fiscal year, about $570,000 on 111 boards in fiscal year 2025 and about $550,000 on 108 boards in fiscal year 2026.

Those cost estimates include a 15% uplift to reflect what Hayes called “recent price pressures,” and include costs for the panel display, mount, installation and professional development.

New boards going to the same schools, Hayes wrote, will be grouped in the same replacement year as a way to have consistent technology at schools. That consistency, she said, will maximize the value and consistency of the professional development that goes into showing educators how to use the newer technology.

Schools that have projector-based technology, rather than flat panel displays, will be prioritized in the replacement schedule to maximize the number of district classrooms using flat panel technology. After technology has been replaced as part of the four-year cycle, displays would be replaced on a similarly predetermined schedule.

Soldotna High School Librarian Tamra Wear, who testified in support of purchasing new technology, told board members Monday that the SMART Boards currently used in classrooms are “antiquated” despite teachers doing everything they can to keep the boards up and running.

“We’ve got to move forward with something and we’ve got to give the teachers something new — a new tool to work with,” Wear said.

Board member Debbie Cary, who voted in support of spending the first round of money this fiscal year, said scheduling replacement of the technology out ahead of time allows the district to take a proactive, versus reactive, approach.

“It’s the right thing to do for teachers to support them and to support staff, but also most importantly, to support students,” Cary said.

The board voted unanimously to approve the four-year replacement plan. The KPBSD Board of Education’s full Monday meeting can be viewed on the board’s media website at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at