While kids are in denial not wanting this great summer to end, parents may be keenly aware that another school year begins next week. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) will open their doors for the new school year Tuesday, August 19th. In preparation for the New Year administrators district wide met the first Friday of August at Soldotna High School (SoHi). KPBSD Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater along with his leadership team put on the full day in-service and were pleased with the results. “We were excited to all get back together we actually started in July and it’s hard to believe that the summer is actually coming to a close. What we are doing is preparing ourselves for what’s coming at us in the coming year such as regulation changes and some policy changes and introducing what we will be focusing on which is student growth map. That’s the connection of student learning with teacher performance which is a big change coming at us in the fall of 2015 and we are preparing for that, training and positioning ourselves for that change as well as looking at how to better prepare to respond to an emergency and the various levels of emergencies,” said Atwater in an interview.
Something new this year will be a free KPBSD app for smartphones that will make it easy for parents and students to stay up to date, “It will be a seamless, convenient way to maintain a connection with your school and information on your student’s progress. It connects to Power-school and is available now to download. We’re excited about it and will be a nice communication change for us in the coming year,” said Atwater. Regarding suggestions for parents preparing for the transition back to school schedule Atwater advised, “Gearing kids into the changing sleep schedule after summer is always needed for school and we do have some start time changes right here in Soldotna due to the reconfiguration so parents should check on those and another good tip is to maintain a place for students to do their after school homework and of course talking with you kids about school and encouraging their enthusiasm for learning is a great help for your children,” he said.
Regarding his recent resignation Atwater said, “Deciding to resign as KPBSD’s superintendent was a difficult decision for me, because my work leading our school district for the past five years has been so rewarding, it is hard to step down. However, I am excited to become the University of Alaska’s Associate Vice President for K-12 Outreach, a newly created position. I am appreciative of working for a supportive school board that places our students’ needs as their number one priority and am proud that our district made so many improvements while I was here. I know the district has a clear vision for what is next and is well positioned with a strong team to continue to meet its goals,” he said. Echoing Atwater’s confidence in the district’s leadership, Principal John Pothast at Redoubt Elementary said, “This year we have a great group of veteran administrators, in the past we’ve had years with a lot of turnover and new principals, but this year we have a solid, experienced group of administrators that are well equipped to continue our districts mission. I highly admire this group and our meeting together gave me great confidence in the coming year where we not only have veteran administrators but a thoughtful and solid school board that just solidifies the great outlook for the coming school year.”
KPBSD assistant superintendent of instruction who is likely to fill Atwater’s position while the school board moves into the search process commented about the meeting, “The district annually meets with all school administrators to kick off the new school year. This year the focus was on effective leadership with specific training in the areas of teacher evaluation, school climate, and communications. Other areas of emphasis focused on school safety, pertinent laws and regulations, and school level data. Administrators were given time to plan collaborative meetings between schools and plan individual site’s opening in-services with teachers. Accountability and transparency with school improvement plans and learning data highlighted many discussions. The administrator meetings accomplished a great deal in the way of opening up school for another successful year.”