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School board prepares for budget process

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mountain View Elementary opened Monday's school board meeting with a slide show and a performance by their "Bee Bopping Band."

Students spent four weeks putting together the five-minute presentation, which listed all the good things about their school from A to Z. The band, consisting of three clarinets, one flute and one saxiphone, was led by Mark Lee, Mountain View's music teacher.

Board members thoroughly enjoyed both performances.

"I just really enjoyed seeing those kids and how nervous they were and how concentrated they were," said Bill Hatch, a member of the board.

On the back of the student's T-shirts were the words "together we soar," a theme that was represented throughout their presentation. Students took care to recognize the efforts of parents and teachers in their education and board member Debra Mullins agreed.

"I appreciate the effort of these youth but also, their parents have to be behind them," she said.

The main item on the docket was the preliminary budget for the 2008-2009 school year. The proposed budget currently sits at around $120 million, a $2 million increase from last year.

This money will be allocated to improving instruction, co-curricular activities, and professional development.

An extra $5 million is being requested to facilitate a programmatic staffing initiative for kindergarten through 12th grade. This initiative focuses on improving pupil-teacher ratios (PTR) and evaluating what education should look like at each school, relative to size, populations, and programs offered.

One goal of the initiative is to provide opportunities for students beyond basic graduation requirements, such as foreign language. According to the preliminary budget proposal, each school will have the opportunity to develop a core schedule based on the needs of that school.

A response to intervention model is being used to achieve this goal.

"(Schools) do something different in a classroom, then we monitor that for a couple weeks and then we change it and monitor it again," said Superintendent Donna Peterson. "The schools don't look the same, but everyone gets foreign language, everyone gets what they need."

Along with PTR, counselor-student ratios will be increased at most schools to 1:250 in high schools and middle schools.

One question being asked by many board members is the ability of the board to continue programmatic staffing once it has been put into place.

"Everything we do needs to be geared toward sustainability," said Melody Douglas, chief financial officer for KPBSD. "Can we afford whatever it is that we choose to implement and can we continue to afford it?"

Public budget forums will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Kenai Central High School; Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at Seward High; and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Homer High.

The board also is focusing on a long-term plan and asking what schools will look like in the future. Peterson asked board members to look at school through the eyes of a student in 2012 and to decide what will be important for the typical student on the Kenai Peninsula to know at that time.

Many board members received letters of congratulations from the state for an "outstanding audit." The compliance part of the audit happens once every five years. This year, the state verified all 21 submissions for special education students.

At the meeting, Lynn Kocinski, Kenai Middle School Special Education Aide, was presented a Golden Apple Award; Board President Sammy Crawford was given a plaque in recognition of her leadership and service to the students of Alaska on the AASB Board of Directors; and Brittany Meyer, the Board's student representative, was presented a Certificate of Achievement for her participation in the AASB Youth Leadership Institute.

Hannahlee Allers can be reached at hannahlee.allers@peninsulaclarion.com.



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