Sterling's Marty Anderson is making his first bid for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education this fall.
A Soldotna High School graduate with one son recently graduated from his alma mater and three more children on their way through the school system, Anderson said he is increasingly concerned about the fate of local schools. That's why he is running for a seat representing District 5-Sterling/Funny River.
He is unopposed.
"I was invited by (Superintendent) Donna Peterson to work on the Blue Ribbon Task Force (on Vocational Education) and it made me realize just how much work is involved with the school board," he said.
"Attending brought me a lot more education, and I realized funding is a much greater complex situation than just not enough funding from the state. It's a community problem."
Anderson said he believes the solution to the district's budget woes will come from working with legislators and other public officials to change state funding. But, he said, it also will require work to increase the number of kids in school and that means improving industry and business opportunities on the peninsula.
"Look at what the fishing industry has become. Look at what the petroleum industry has become. Unless we have more business development, people aren't going to come here, and we'll have less and less and less," he said. "When I ran for borough assembly last year, people said tourism would replace the declining petroleum industry. But you look at a job at Agrium with a $65,000 a year salary and full benefits. Then you look at a tourist job that pays $7 to $8 an hour. These jobs we're losing, these jobs support three to four children in a family.
"It's going to take creative thinkers to introduce new industry and value-added business."
And, he said, it's going to require industries working with schools to improve the district.
"Interaction with local officials needs to grow. We need to make sure these individuals are informed about the current needs and problems and that we work with all the different parts of the community industry and borough government to resolve our funding problems," he said.
Anderson said he is ready to do just that.
"My No. 1 goal will be informing people that we need to look at this as a community problem. It's not just the school board. Nine people out of a community of 60,000 is not going to solve the problem. They will be the action people to take ideas and solutions and get them carried through," he said.
"If I'm elected, I realize I'll be a rookie and I have a lot to learn," he said. "But I believe after I get past the learning curve, I'll have a lot to offer."
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