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School identity discussion doesn't have support

Posted: November 15, 2013 - 9:02am

I am very disappointed in the Kenai Peninsula school board for even entertaining the idea to change Soldotna High School’s identity. This one act of allowing this conversation to pursue has separated the community significantly more than had the school board simply said “Skyview is closing. We will have one high school in Soldotna, Soldotna High school.” Had they simply took that stand, very little discussion would be occurring now about this and instead of all this bickering we would be focusing on how to make the transition best for those few students transferring. Instead, we have the entire SOHI community battling for their school.

I’d like to make a few points:

1. It is the school board’s responsibility to not incur needless and irresponsible costs. Spending money to change SOHI’s identity (no matter how much money) when you are cutting the budget by greater than one million dollars is so irresponsible it does not even deserve a moment’s thought. To say that the sports teams will slowly change uniforms over time and painting will be done over time when things wear out is ludicrous. And I am strongly opposed to any one trying to say that local businesses will contribute. They will not contribute for needless and pointless endeavors. I know 4 business owners who have already told me that. It is unfair to try and put this needless and pointless cost onto our already over asked small business owners.

2. If SOHI is forced to change its identity, but Kenai Central High School, Connections homeschool, River City Academy and Nikiski Middle-High identities are left intact, we are setting ourselves up for more discontent and division among students and families and schools. There are Skyview kids right now planning to transfer to one of these schools rather than Soldotna High. If you do to one and not the others, it will be seen as unfair and wrong. I would also point out that the Skyview student representative on the reconfiguration committee stated during a meeting that most of the Skyview kids are trying to graduate early or are planning to homeschool or attend River City Academy rather than SOHI even if they change the name/mascot/identity. So again, why are we discussing this?

3. I wonder why this discussion has gotten this far. There is significantly more community support to leave SOHI as it is and support the incoming Skyview kids as best we can than there is to change SOHI to something else. I’d recommend you looking at the recent petition that Mikail Vaissenberg started. There is also a facebook page “Save the SOHI Stars” that has almost 700 members. The community is saying no to all of this.

4. One last thing, there is not huge animosity among the kids of SOHI and Skyview. This animosity is coming from parents more than anything. I have a child at SOHI and he has friends at Skyview and at Kenai. He told me that if they closed SOHI he’d go to either school and would never have imagined asking them to change their identity. This talk about changing SOHI’s identity is what has caused more animosity than ever existed before. Talk about a huge backfiring effect!

I have emailed every school board member my thoughts twice and only received two emails back. I am very afraid that our current school board has an agenda and are not listening to the people of the community.

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