Kenai borough sees 34 school staffers resign

Posted: Thursday, April 04, 2002

KENAI (AP) -- Three principals, five special education teachers and some of the district's most experienced teachers -- 34 senior educators in all -- have turned in resignations effective at the end of this school year.

The list was submitted at Monday's meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education. It was a bittersweet moment for the board.

''We didn't want to see any of our talented people leave,'' Todd Syverson, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said Tuesday.

The district courted some of the resignations through what it is calling a ''service recognition program.'' The program, funded by a one-time windfall from the borough, aimed to reward employees who would be retiring soon anyway with a final bonus of $7,500. They had until March 29 to decide.

The district had aimed to have 50 teachers take advantage of the program, to offset jobs endangered by falling enrollment and budget shortfalls. Because fewer than 50 signed up for the program, the district will have to lay off some staffers, Syverson said.

''It didn't work out exactly the way we wanted,'' Syverson said.

The resignations will save some jobs for younger educators. Most second- or third-year nontenured employees will be able to keep their jobs. The resignations also will reduce involuntary transfers, he said.

But the resignations were uneven. Some schools will miss many familiar faces, while others still will face layoffs. Many schools had no resignations at all. The jobs most at risk of getting cut now are those of first-year, elementary teachers at those schools, he said.

Among those retiring or resigning are principals at Kalifornsky Beach, North Star and Paul Bank elementary schools.

Syverson, the former principal at Soldotna Middle School, noted that the list includes the names of band teacher Dave Schmidt and art teacher Terry McBee. He called them master teachers and said the district's students have been fortunate to have people of their caliber.

''Seeing those folks retire last night was kind of an ouch,'' Syverson said. ''I know the excellence they provide for kids.''

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