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District enrollment projected to decline

Posted: December 7, 2011 - 9:42am

Enrollment projections for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District continue to decline.

A Five Year Enrollment Projection document was released to the public Monday night during the KPBSD Board of Education Meeting. The projection shows enrollment declining by about 546 students from projected Fiscal Year 2012 to Fiscal Year 2017.

"Basically we just take the numbers, third-graders roll to fourth grade, fourth grade rolls to fifth grade," said KPBSD communications specialist Pegge Erkeneff said. "We can have a pretty good pulse of student numbers -- if nothing changed with people leaving and moving away, or moving in, it kind of averages out."

Although the enrollment projections are declining, Erkeneff said that does not mean the district will necessarily lose teachers because of how big the district is.

"There's a teacher-to-pupil ratio, and we might not lose 22 students from one school, we might lose four from this one, and five from this one," Erkeneff said. "So with a district as big as ours, it doesn't automatically correlate that just because enrollment is going down, we need fewer staff."

The board also heard presentations from Sheryl Hingley, who is the principal at Susan B. English Elementary/High School in Seldovia and from Lisa Callahan, the principal at Nikiski North Star Elementary. Callahan introduced two fifth-graders, Garrett Ellis and Jaylen Uhls, who presented their social studies projects to the board that were produced using Animoto, which is a web-based software.

There was a first reading of a policy revision regarding the criteria for closing schools. The current policy allows the superintendent to recommend a school be closed if it fails to reach an enrollment of ten students at the offical count date.

"The superintendent may recommend closure for the year or may recommend the school stay in operation for one additional year," the policy reads.

The revised policy would allow the superintendent to recommend the school be closed during the current school year. The revision was introduced by Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater for the board's consideration.

"This is a more proactive thing for an in-the-future conversation," board President Joe Arness said. "It makes sense to me that if for whatever reason you have a school that sometimes end up with five kids and then it's just enormously expensive to operate for the rest of the year because the state stops funding that school immediately."

The board will hold public comments and address the revision during the next board meeting on Jan. 9.
In other business:

* The board approved a resolution in support of a paved lighted path along Poppy Lane

* The board approved the reapplication of Fireweed Academy Charter School, Aurora Borealis Charter School and Soldotna Montessori Charter School.
Logan Tuttle can be reached at

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justamom 12/07/11 - 10:46 am
Home school

We need to do away with home school and get students back in the classroom where they belong. There are very few parents who can homeschool effectively and it's very sad to see those kids who have no social skills because they seldom get out of the house. There are way more families who abuse the homeschool system than benefit from it and it costs the taxpayers money for their education that they aren't getting. Many parents just want the free computer and stop there and the kids suffer.

jimlbak 12/11/11 - 01:28 pm

Looks like the panel needs to start looking at budget cuts. Based on current spending per pupil over $2-million of them. Why not start today and be ready for tomorrow.

It may also be time to start looking at letting parents chose which school their children attend. Take the money and apply it to each child and advise the parent that they can decide where the money is to be spent, either the current local school, a school in another area or a private school. The competition concept will allow the district to close underperforming schools and will increase the quality of education.

There is a bill in the legislature to do just that, HB 145 creates a scholarship education system. You can see it at

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