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Voices of the Peninsula: Configuring the compass for the greater Soldotna schools

Posted: February 14, 2013 - 4:56pm

In a community’s life, as well as with that of each individual, it is proper and necessary to evaluate from time to time where one is at, where one wants to go, and how to get there. An accurate “compass” is necessary for both the community and the individual for determining the direction and path for the future. The greater Soldotna community is at such a point regarding the future educational needs and goals for our students, for our community, and ultimately for our society.

For the greater part of the last 25 years, the “compass” for our school district had to be tilted and improperly balanced because of lack of proper funding from the State, a consistent over-reliance on technology to take the place of humans in our classrooms, our libraries and nursing stations, and the need for many new schools and facilities because of overcrowding caused by economic booms and the youthful demographics of our population 25 years ago.

Today our “compass” needs to be properly balanced on relevant student curriculum, consistent with their intellectual development and wide-ranging co-curricular activities as our primary direction. Our compass must have as its true “North” what needs to be taught to the future generations of young workers, young producers and young parents. Our curriculum must always be student-centered and must teach that hard work and proper education is the key to the future for each individual in our American society.

The “East” and “West” points on our compass must be balanced on future economic and social needs on one side with parents and family values completing the other side. Vocational education must be a much stronger priority along with programs that teach that character counts at every age in human and family life.

Our “South” compass point needs to be grounded upon the existing physical structures and cyber possibilities. School bonds have been paid for by and belong to the entire community of young and older, and all ages in between. The entire community should be welcomed into and feel ownership of our educational facilities.

No. 1) We need one unified 9-12 High School with complete curriculum which includes Physical Education, advanced Science and Math classes, Foreign Languages, Music and Art, along with a full range of Vocational classes. Counselors and Nurses must be part of the staff. Time for classes should be based on latest brain research for teenagers not the bus schedule. We need to provide maximum flexibility for integration with the awesome KPC Vocational and Academic offerings.

No. 2) We need one unified Middle School not a Junior High. The staff, teachers and parents of our current Junior High are doing the best job possible with the curriculum being offered. Teenage students have enough developmental adjustments conflicting with the need for educational growth. We need the compassion of a Middle School. Creatively, we need to examine a “flex” option by which the parents and teachers of 6th Grade students could decide if the student should receive their education at the Middle School or at the Elementary School.

No. 3) We need every Primary (K-3) and Elementary (4-6) School to be run like a Charter School. The great curricular and staff opportunities of the Charter School must be available to every youngster. Parents of Charter School students have a much loader voice when it comes to curriculum being offered. Hopefully, the parents of home-schooled students would feel much more welcomed and more of their children would attend our public schools.

Dave Carey, as chair of the Borough Assembly Local Affairs Committee in 1985, conducted the public hearings on the Bond Issues for building Kenai and Nikiski Elementary, the Addition/Renovation of Soldotna Elementary, Central Peninsula High (Skyview) and Nikiski High School. He attended local schools and taught and coached at multiple schools in the Soldotna area until he retired in 2005 after 30 years.

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