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Three school board incumbents running unopposed

Posted: September 28, 2011 - 9:41pm  |  Updated: September 29, 2011 - 9:09am

There are three Kenai Peninsula School District Board of Education members seeking to serve another term. Nikiski representative Joe Arness, Soldotna representative Penny Vadla and Central Peninsula representative Bill Holt are running unopposed in the Oct. 4 election.

Arness, who has served multiple stints on the board over the past 20 years, said this group is the most proactive group he has worked with.

"I think the board that we have now is probably more responsive and more cohesive than any of them I was on before," he said. "We've just got a good group of people."

Arness said the diverse geographic representation allows the board to tackle issues from all angles.

"They also come from different viewpoints, and when you pour ‘em all into the same bucket, I think it creates a good, workable product," he said. "I'm really pleased and happy with the board we have now, hopefully it will continue to work that smoothly."

The board will be faced with obstacles in the near future.

"The biggest issue that we're going to have to deal with is our declining enrollment," Arness said. "Where is that going, where are the kids, and how are we going to respond to that - that's a huge issue."

He figured with the declining enrollment, the school district will see a $1.5 million reduction in state money.

"We're going to have to adjust to that," Arness said. "And get a better handle on where that population trend is going. That will be a huge challenge for the district."

In addition to the declining student population, Arness said negotiations with three employee organizations and passing a bond measure for replacing roofs throughout the district is on the horizon. However, he believes the board will be ready to tackle the issues head-on.

"We have a pretty stable board," Arness said. "We have a good group of people who are legitimately honestly interested in solving questions and problems."

Penny Vadla was elected to the board in 2008, and is running unopposed for her seat as the representative for Soldotna. In her candidate statement, Vadla said it is important to keep the students number one when deciding on issues.

"As we address these issues, it is vital to keep the goal of educating the ‘whole' student in the forefront of instructional decisions," her candidate statement said. "In order to provide the students of the Kenai Peninsula Borough with the best education possible."

Bill Holt, from Kasilof, is running unopposed for the Central Peninsula seat that he was elected to in 2008. In comments to the Clarion, Holt said that the biggest issue facing the district is continuing to find ways for students to succeed.

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