This summer has been no vacation for Kenai Peninsula Borough maintenance workers working on school repairs.
The work for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is behind schedule, and contractors are hurrying to complete tasks before school children return on Aug. 23, Superintendent Donna Peterson told the school board at its Monday meeting.
"We have an ambitious summer schedule for maintenance and repair," she said. "Right now the buildings are not where they are supposed to be."
The delays are causing stress for the maintenance workers and also for returning educators who need to work around them. But unless unforeseen problems emerge, the jobs all should be done before students return, said Maintenance Director Don McCloud.
"We are up against the wall," he said. "We've just got a little push on."
The problem began with asbestos abatement work at Redoubt Elementary in Soldotna and Paul Banks Elementary in Homer. The time-consuming project involves many steps but should be done Friday, he said.
"It kind of threw us behind," he said. "The carpet layers are probably working a lot of overtime."
A portable classroom, to be installed at Kenai Central High School to house a special education project, also is running late. The program did not get funding to begin the work until July, McCloud said.
Another big project workers completed was repainting Soldotna High School.
"We've got a lot to wrap up," he said. "It's coming together. We're on the right track."
In other school board business:
n High school juniors should get their exit exam scores first thing when they return to school.
Assistant Superintendent Ed McLain said he got word last week from the state Department of Education and Early Development that scores on the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam will be sent via express mail to school districts next week. The district will forward them immediately to the schools so students can change their plans at the beginning of the year if the scores indicate they need specific classes.
Originally, the scores were not going to be available until later in the fall, but the state and the testing company accelerated the grading to accommodate students' needs.
"I am really appreciative of the state's efforts to adjust the schedule," McLain said.
Students will learn promptly whether they passed the exam the first time around. Details about how they scored in specific areas and how the results relate to individual educational standards probably will come later.
Those who failed will have chances to take the tests again.
"It seems to have some caveats that it is not the full data," McLain said. "I fully expect we will get more than just a pass-fail."
n How students get permission to use the Internet at school is changing.
During a work session prior to the Monday meeting, the board and administrators discussed revising the district policy to reduce paper work and acknowledge the rapid adoption of Internet technology in the classrooms.
In the past, students could only use the Internet or post their creations online after filing a parental permission form. Under the new policy, parents may request that their children, their names or their works be kept off line, but if no request is filed, permission will be implied. The forms will be given to families at the beginning of the year.
McLain described it as an opt-out rather than opt-in arrangement, reflecting how computers and the Internet have become integral parts of modern schooling.
"We don't ask parents if it's OK for their kids to have textbooks or use a typewriter," he said.
The proposed policy change is due to come before the board at its next meeting on Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Borough Building on Binkley Street in Soldotna.
n The new school year is about to begin.
New principals and administrators met Monday and Tuesday for orientations, and registration began this week at some peninsula schools.
Board member Sammy Crawford expressed optimism for the school year ahead.
"It is always great to have the smell of chalk dust and the bright new year before us," she said.
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