School start and end times discussed at Homer meeting

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District started discussing new start and end times for schools within the Homer area at a community meeting at Homer High School on Monday, Sept. 19. A meeting will be held at Chapman School today at 6:30 p.m.

Approximately 20-30 people attended the Homer meeting, said KPBSD Board of Education member Zen Kelly. The meeting opened discussion with the community about the changes that will happen in the 2016-2017 school year when lower peninsula schools go on a two-tier bus system. The rest of the district is already on this system.

Currently, Homer schools use 15 buses to take kids to schools, all with relatively similar start times. The two-tier busing system will reduce this number to eight buses and reduce the cost to the district by about $600,000, Kelly said. The district currently exceeds its state-allocated funds for transportation each year by about $600,000.

The district will leave the new start and end times up to the Homer community and is formulating a survey to put out to collect ideas and opinions. The only stipulation is that the two groups of schools, most likely elementary and secondary, must start an hour apart.

“We definitely have more work to do but it was nice to hear from administration that it was our decision as a community,” Kelly said. “We’re looking at saving $600,000 by moving to this system, so that’s kind of a no brainer in the current fiscal situation that we have. Now we’re just going to figure out, we get the options of what schools start at what time.”

Another meeting will be held near the end of the year. At that meeting, the district will lay out scenarios and data based on the input from the community, Zen said.