The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education met Monday in Soldotna.
The first item on the agenda was the oath of office administered by Administrative Secretary Debbie Tressler to the newly elected member, Daniel Castimore, and re-elected members Sunni Hilts and Lynn Hohl, who were elected to the seats on Oct. 1.
Homer High School junior Evan Boyer was also welcomed to the board.
Doug Hayman, principal of Tustumena Elementary, made a presentation highlighting the school and staff qualifications. He also shared with the board last year’s high Alaska School Performance Indicator report scores, placing the school in the four star status.
He said he made it a goal to know the names of each of the approximately 160 students at the school and to familiarize himself with the staff.
“Everyone of them is exceptional,” he said.
Hayman told the board his future goal for the school is to focus more on science — the curriculum as well as incorporating the plans for the schoolyard habitat project and a science night.
During the timed public presentations, science and the Soldotna Schools Reconfiguration were on the minds of some.
Soldotna Mayor Nels Anderson agreed that science needed to be made more important in schools. Yet he said we don’t have a goal as the United States did in the 1960s when John F. Kennedy encouraged the mission to the moon.
“When I was growing up everyone wanted to go into science,” he said. “We don’t have a national goal like that anymore.”
He also mentioned the reconfiguration issue.
“I am a little concerned with the changes that may be coming, in terms of changing the name of the school or changing the colors and things,” he said. “I think that if you (change) SoHi substantially, your not only doing a disservice to some of the current students but to the 30-plus years of kids who have been there before.”
Anderson recalled that he was on the KPBSD board when Skyview opened, and said it was for Kasilof not for Sterling.
“The kids from Sterling got dragged kicking and screaming to go there in the first place now you’re doing exactly the opposite to drag them out of there because they have developed the allegiances,” he said.
He mentioned an October Atlantic Monthly magazine article about how sports are ruining schools and stated his thoughts on the recent reconfiguration discussions.
“If we are more concerned about color and sports teams than we are in academics then we need to kind of review where we are, I think,” he said.
Soldotna resident Rob Lewis, a parent of eight children that have been or are currently in the district, also shared his thoughts on the reconfiguration.
He said he is pleased with the education his kids have received in the district and is excited about the overall idea of the reconfiguration.
“I think it is going to open up a lot of opportunities at the high school level for kids that may not have been there previously,” Lewis said.
But he is concerned at the cost of the changes for as colors and mascots.
“Nobody seems to want to put the number out there about how much it will cost if the school board does make the decision to change these mascots and change these color schemes,” he said.
He encouraged the board to leave the mascots and colors the way they currently are.
“As a parent of eight children, I often have to tell my children that changes happen, and we have to learn to deal with those changes,” he said. “Sometimes we have to tell the kids, ‘You may not like the way things are happening, but that is the way it is going to be,’ and they have to learn to adjust to that.”
He said he felt the school board is like the parents in the room and its going to be up to them to make a tough decision that many will have to deal with.
The board went on to unanimously approve several long-term substitute teacher contracts, new teacher contracts, resignations and tentative teacher contracts.
Other revisions included resolutions to support a lighted pathway along Poppy Lane and to support an Alaska Law making all workplaces 100 percent smoke free.
The board approved adding drama, debate and forensics as district sanctioned activity to Nikolaevsk School and approved revisions to BP 5138 Student Possession and Use of Personal Electronic Devices, including cellular phones and BP 6172 Special Education.
The board also approved a list of 2014 State and Federal Legislative Priorities as revised from a work session earlier in the day. The list included an exploration of health care options for school districts and their employees as well as a teacher tenure priority that KPBSD recommend extending the period of non-tenure to five years to ensure that district have enough time to make an informed decision prior to offering a contract that will ensure tenure.
The KPBSD board will meet again at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna.
Reach Sara Hardan at firstname.lastname@example.org.