NENANA (AP) -- The Nenana City School has broken ground for a boarding home for nearly 100 students. The additional students could more than double the local high school population once the project is finished.
The 27,000-square-foot Nenana Student Living Center is being built with a $4.5 million low-interest loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Crews will complete foundation and slab work this fall, with walls slated to go up in November and December. The project is to be completed by next August so students can start school next fall.
If the boarding program attracts its full capacity, the population of Nenana, about 435 people, would increase by nearly 25 percent.
The Nenana City School has a secondary capacity of 300 students. Currently, the school has about 75 junior and senior high school students.
The influx will improve educational offerings at the high school, said Nenana City School District Superintendent Terry Bentley.
''We can offer more classes. We can offer a wider variety of classes,'' he said. ''Instead of having five kids in a class we may have 20 kids in a class, so you get more of an intellectual challenge.''
The new program will also increase state revenue to the district. It's something that the city is counting on to pay off the loan, according to Mayor Robert Knight.
The school will only need to hire a couple more teachers with the influx of students, he said, so ''quite a bit of that (state) money can be slid over to the boarding home.''
Knight doesn't anticipate an increase in the city's 11-mill property tax rate or the 3 percent sales tax to pay for the boarding home. ''It is going to come from the school. The state is going to pay for the students to come to school here.''
Students would be able to take advantage of the school's vocation offerings or go for a traditional program.
Nenana may be a step up in services and offerings for rural students, officials say, while urban parents may see the program as an alternative to some of the problems that come with city schools.
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