Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The last of the absentee ballots are in and all votes have now been tabulated for this year’s Kenai Peninsula elections.

KPBSD

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is considering changing how it evaluates contact tracing in its COVID mitigation plan to allow more kids to stay in school.

The Board of Education held a work session Monday to discuss alternatives. In the board meeting Monday night, superintendent Clayton Holland said the district is trying to keep kids in school as much as possible.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

School boards around the country have been in the spotlight throughout the pandemic, amid heated conversations about COVID-19 and mitigation protocols in schools.

That’s been true in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. And it’s partly what’s inspired some candidates to run for school board this election cycle.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Local and national medical experts have recommended universal masking in schools to prevent the spread of the contagious Delta variant.

But the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced at a work session today it’s sticking to its policy of recommended masking districtwide and instead considering temporary mask mandates at individual schools depending on how those schools are impacted by COVID-19.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Critical race theory was not on the agenda of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District board meeting Monday night, or the meeting before it. But it’s been coming up at those meetings anyway, as parents share concerns that their kids are being indoctrinated with a progressive agenda.

Meanwhile, the district said it doesn’t plan on teaching critical race theory at all.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough and school district are starting budget negotiations with a $10 million difference between their proposals.

The borough won’t finalize the budget for the 2022 fiscal year until this summer. But at a work session Tuesday between the borough assembly and school board, the district presented an initial request for $53 million in local contributions.

The borough set a floor of $43 million. That’s how much the borough assembly approved for the district in 2013 and is $7 million less than the district is getting in 2021.

Renee Gross/KBBI

Bonds are back on the table. 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is again considering a $29,940,000 bond to fund 19 maintenance projects in the school district, ranging from building a new school in Kachemak Selo to updating decades-old building automation systems.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and borough planned on putting that proposal to a vote this fall, but things were delayed because of COVID-19. 

Pegge Erkeneff

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s new superintendent is a familiar face. The board of education chose Clayton Holland to lead the district next year. 

Holland is the district’s assistant superintendent of Instruction, and was the only one of the three finalists with deep roots in the district.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Inside a Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting Monday, parents, students and staff gave mixed testimony on the district’s adherence to a remote learning plan. Outside the meeting, on the sidewalk in front of Kenai Central High School, a group of 40 protesters held signs with messages like “I want 2-B in school,” “No fear” and “Open our schools.”

Kimberly Powell has a daughter in seventh grade and a son in fifth grade at Skyview Middle School. She said she owns her own business, which has made learning from home difficult.


KPBSD

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is working on contingency plans for reopening schools in the fall. At a Monday night school board meeting, Superintendent John O’Brien said the “Smart Start” workgroup, made up of parents, teachers, staff and administrators, is working with the state to develop various options, since no one knows what the COVID-19 situation will be in August.

“Scenarios for low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk situations that are plans that can be developed and implemented, not necessarily as a one-size-fits-all for the entire district, but that will be agile enough and flexible enough to be implemented in various parts of the school district, depending upon the situation,” O’Brien said.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education voted to seat a superintendent search oversight committee at its meeting May 6. Current Superintendent John O’Brien announced his plans to retire in June.

O’Brien started his career in 1993 as a special education teacher in Maine. He also became an athletic director, assistant principal and principal while in Maine. He and his family moved to Nikiski in 2005 for a job as principal of Nikiski Middle-High School. In 2011, he became director of Secondary Education for KPBSD, and in 2015 became the assistant superintendent of Instruction.

He was offered the job of superintendent for the 2019-2020 school year when none of the candidates that had applied were chosen for the position. He had indicated he was not planning on serving in that role for multiple years. O’Brien underwent surgery and treatment for kidney cancer just before spring break in March.