KPBSD

On Monday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District unveiled its Smart Start plan for opening schools Aug. 24 amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Superintendent John O’Brien outlined the plan to the Board of Education during an afternoon work session.

“Really, the hallmark of our KPBSD plan provides parents with choice, consistency, continuity and, of course, we are very firm on symptom-free schools being an aspect of this Smart Start plan if we’re going to be able to keep students in school this year,” O’Brien said.

A committee has been working on the plan since May. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Clayton Holland, who chairs the committee, says the plan takes into account parental feedback.

“Parents will have the choice to decide if they’re going to be our neighborhood school in person with the kids or be part of our neighborhood school and participate remotely and/or join our Connections homeschool program,” Holland  said. “So we’re offering those choices between there. We’re hoping that that meets the needs of our families.” 

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.

Parents, teachers and administrators in the Kenai Peninsula School District jumped into the new reality of eLearning March 30, with school facility closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of the eve of the change, KDLL visited with Crista Cady, music teacher at Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science, Skyview Middle School Principal Sarge Truesdell and Nikiski mom Ambger Douglas about their hopes and concerns for the new reality of education.
This week, we check back in to see how things went.

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. 

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s announcement Thursday that distance delivery of education will continue through the rest of the school year did not come as a surprise to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff says the district has been expecting to continue the remote learning system it began March 30 through the end of school May 20.

“Overall, we’ve heard really positive things. The schools are there for our kids, our nurses are reaching out, we’re doing the lunch programs. And we can always improve, so we look forward to hearing, ‘What do you need?’ And we’ll be as responsive as we can,” she said.

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