Cooper Landing School will expand its grade offerings starting next year from K-8 to K-12, although administrators don't know if any high school students will attend yet.
With only six full time students and one teacher, the one-room style schoolhouse in the small mountain town didn't meet the state requirement of having 10 pupils when counts were conducted last fall, making it ineligible for state funding.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators announced in November that they would keep the school open through the rest of the school year, drawing on the district's fund balance to meet the estimated $250,000 to $260,000 shortfall.
At Monday's Board of Education meeting, the board voted unanimously to expand the school to include grades 9-12.
Jim Dawson, principal at Cooper Landing, said he anticipated the board's support for the change.
"The community and the school itself felt confident that it was going to get passed and it wasn't a controversial issue," he said. "The board typically listens to the community and there was only positive support for it."
In December, district administrators held a community meeting at the school to discuss solutions to the low enrollment.
The added grade levels however, are not expected to help the school reach the 10 student threshold for next year, according to Dawson.
High school aged students from Cooper Landing normally attend Skyview High.
Dawson said he believed there were presently three students in that age bracket from Cooper Landing, but said there was no commitment from any of them to change schools.
"There was no intent to capture anyone immediately," he said.
The district asked the school to have ten students committed to enrolling by the beginning of the next school year. At the moment they have eight, according to Dawson, and he's optimistic about getting more.
The grade expansion instead gives older students the option of staying in Cooper Landing, Dawson explained.
He said the move also appealed to some families in Moose Pass, which is currently served by a K-8 school, where Dawson is also the principal.
He said the expansion won't result in any physical changes to the school or staff increases.
Dante Petri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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