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State, borough give schools a hand

Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Recent developments have meant good news -- and money -- for Kenai Peninsula schools.

At Monday's meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's Board of Education, administrators told the school board how actions by the Borough Assembly and state Legislature have benefited the district.

The assembly added $257,000 in funding to its appropriations for the district when it finalized its 2000-01 budget in June. The funding will allow schools to reinstate funding for activity travel, which had been on the chopping block.

"All of those anticipated or tentative cuts that KPSAA (the Kenai Peninsula Student Athletic Association) had been instructed to make this next year will not be implemented," said Dave Spence, the director of planning and operations for the district.

He likened the change to an inmate on death row receiving a reprieve.

But it only postpones the cutback problem for one year, he warned.

The district still needs to find a long-term solution for funding after-school activities, he said.

Primary beneficiaries are the district's large high schools, which will receive from $23,000 to $29,000 each for travel costs related to athletics, arts and academic after-school activities.

Meanwhile, the Legislature, through a rider on Senate Bill 290, ruled that district's wages for principals now may be included as part of the classroom instruction category. This helps districts meet state guidelines requiring them to spend at least 70 percent of their funds on instruction next year.

Patrick Hickey, the district's assistant superintendent in charge of finances, had voiced concerns during the spring budget process that the district would fail to meet the state's spending guidelines without the change.

"Basically, what they said was principals could count, assistant principals don't," he said. "Technically, in my opinion, we now have a compliant budget."

The district's report to the state documenting its compliance is now in the mail, he said.

In other school district business:

n The school board honored two groups of students for outstanding academic achievement.

Recipients were students from the district's Future Problem Solving team, who won prizes in international competition in Georgia in June, and last year's North Star Elementary School fifth- and sixth-grade Quest class, which won the national championship in the News Bowl 2000 current events contest in the sixth-grade division.

"I would like to commend the board for commending the students," said parent and teacher Penny Vadla.

The school board praised the students and their volunteer coaches for going above and beyond the call of duty in their pursuit of excellence.

n Superintendent Donna Peterson released her annual report reviewing the past school year.

"The first year of a new job is always a challenge," she wrote in its introduction," and this, my first year as superintendent, has been an exciting, special and very challenging year."

The booklet, which is available to the public, lists the district's goals, student and staff accomplishments, major events, programs and changes in school policies.

The next meeting of the school board will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Borough Building in Soldotna.



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