District 4, N. Anderson: Economic situation overshadows all else

Posted: Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Soldotna doctor Nels Anderson has plenty to say about the state of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's schools.

And he plans to keep saying it.

Anderson has served on the school board for the past 10 years. This fall, he is running unopposed for a seat on the board representing District 4-Soldotna.

Anderson, who has 16 years of post-high school education himself, is no stranger to education.

He originally ran for a seat on the school board to serve the community and said his experience has taught him plenty about the way the local school system works.

"I've learned a lot in the time I've been on the board," he said. "I really enjoy working with the people there. They're good people. I believe I can provide positive input."

One of his biggest concerns this year is the reapportionment of the board. Last October, voters opted to do away with the seven member, at-large board and create a nine-member board with representatives elected by district. Anderson said he is concerned that the decision will lead to a politicizing of the board.

"I think it was a bad decision, but voters voted for it, so we'll see," he said. "We need to remember we represent all kids on the peninsula."

Anderson also said he is concerned about the financial future of the district. "I'm the only one who didn't vote for the teachers' contract, not because it wasn't fair, but because we have to fund it," he said. "We're going to have to have new, creative ways to cut.

"When I came on the board in the fist place, I had a list of things to cut if worst came to worst. The situation we're in now, I don't see anything honestly that we could do that would not be very damaging."

While he said he is pleased with the staff, students and programs in the district, he added, "the unfortunate thing is that the whole economic issue overshadows everything else."

Anderson said he still would like to see more money from the state, though he's not sure that will happen anytime in the foreseeable future.

"One of the things I've wanted to do for a long time is bring a lawsuit against the state to fund us according to the (area cost differential) studies. We can show we have been harmed," he said. "Will we do it? I don't know. I don't want to do it simply for show or to create more problems, but I do want to bring to the forefront that the Legislature has to deal with this."

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