Two local three-year seats on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education will be on the ballot during Tuesday’s election. Both local candidates are incumbents who decided to continue their service on the board because of their relevant expertise.
After nine years as the school board member representing Sterling/Funny River, Anderson feels like he has a good understanding of the budget process. That’s one thing he thinks will be increasingly important in the coming years, he said.
“I didn’t think this was a time for someone to have a learning curve,” he said. “Federally, the government is cutting and the state, with the throughput on the pipeline, they’re going to be looking for places to cut. It’s going to take a very thought out plan and strategy to interact with the people who provide funding.”
During his fourth term, Anderson said he’d like to work with the state government to set up a forward-funding mechanism that could continue indefinitely.
“We had two years of forward funding and it was fabulous,” he said.
Anderson said there would be challenges to having a multi-year budget but he believed a memorandum of agreement — one showing that the district understood that funding could change during drastic circumstances — could solve the problem.
“At least, this is the amount you’re going to get, so that we could actually plan,” Anderson said. “I own my own business and I can’t see buying equipment and hiring people and not knowing what my revenue is.”
Anderson said he was passionate about vocational education in the district and hoped to expand the district’s courses.
He said he worked hard to have the state fund the district’s vocational education program funded separately and was proud that district’s program was now able to expand.
He’s also proud of improvements to Sterling Elementary School.
“It was really having some problems when I was elected. The water wasn’t drinkable, the roof was leaky ... I’ve consistently been a thorn in some people’s sides, I’ve been a squeaky wheel,” he said. “We finally got our roof fixed after nine years of beating on people’s desks and hounding.”
He said he’s also proud of the district’s newest schools like River City Academy.
“When I first started on the school board, there seemed to be a lot of opposition to anything other than the traditional brick and mortar school,” he said. “I wanted people in our district to have options. If they wanted different options for their child’s education, I really carried that flag.”
Tim Navarre is running for a second term representing Kenai on the school board despite initially having reservations.
“I’ve been very frustrated my first three years on the school board because, at times, I don’t think we do enough,” he said. “But, I had a number of people say, ‘You’re doing a good job, you’re listening, you’re asking tough questions.’ I’m giving it time for changes to be made.”
Navarre said he believed the board could have a better focus and not be perceived as a ‘rubber stamp’ of the administration.
“I think the public deserves a better understanding of how we’re coming to our conclusions,” he said.
Navarre has served on several boards and councils in the area including the Kenai City Council and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.
That experience, he said, helped him understand the school district’s budget and some of the borough’s constraints in fulfilling it.
“From the borough, it’s always a question of what’s adequate funding and also what’s sustainable funding for the borough and everybody wants the opportunity to have the best, to give the kids in our borough the best opportunity,” he said. “You have to justify the dollars that you put into education. The assembly has to feel comfortable that the school board is allocating their dollars and evaluating the cost of providing those services and making sure they’re doing their job.”
Navarre, who currently holds a seat on the Kenai City council, said he thought now was the best time for him to serve the community.
“With me having a broad knowledge of both sides, that’s where people feel I’m offering the best service from the school board side to have the best relationship with the borough,” he said.
Navarre said his parents taught him public service is an important part of life and he has enjoyed each position he has held.
“I do have connections, because of my long service from the assembly to my other (work with the) legislature and (with) the federal level, that only comes ... over time. This is the perfect time.”
Navarre said he also had a hard time saying no to people when asked to volunteer.
“I really do enjoy getting informed and I don’t always enjoy making the tough decisions but I’m not afraid to make them,” he said. “I think that’s what democracy is all about.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.