School configuration conversation important to community

An important community conversation continues this month with public meetings to discuss reconfiguration of Soldotna-area schools.

This conversation has been a long time in the making, as the district’s student population shifts and creates challenges with the current school configuration — six elementary schools feeding one middle school, which then feeds into two high schools.

While the conversation has been taking place in different forums for several years, school administrators first began looking at options in 2011, focusing just on Sterling Elementary and Soldotna Middle schools. That conversation evolved into a discussion of the Soldotna area as a whole, and the current proposal would have kindergarten-through-sixth-grade elementary schools feeding two seventh-through-ninth-grade middle schools. From there, students would attend one high school for grades 10 through 12.

No decisions have been made, and the Feb. 11 meetings are to gather comments from the entire community before the district administration presents its recommendation to the school board.

Change is difficult, especially when it comes as close to home as our schools. It is challenging to make decisions with our heads when our hearts are involved.

But this is a conversation — and a decision — that needs to happen for our community. The school district has been able to cobble together a fix here and a patch there to accommodate the shifting student population, but there will come a time when resources will simply be stretched too thin to continue to deliver quality education. As district spokeswoman Pegge Erkeneff told the Clarion, “We’re being proactive so we don’t have to be reactive in a couple of years.”

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On Feb. 11 at 6 p.m., parents, students, and community members, and school district staff are invited to attend a meeting to learn about the potential school reconfiguration for our Soldotna and greater Soldotna-area schools. Meetings will be held at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School; Redoubt Elementary School; Skyview High School; River City Academy; Soldotna Elementary School; Soldotna Montessori Charter School; Soldotna High School; Soldotna Middle School; Sterling Elementary School; and Tustumena Elementary School.

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