School board drawing up yearly legislative wish list

Funding, pension costs, teacher housing top priorities

Posted: Monday, October 23, 2006

Addressing the Area Cost Differential and funding the teacher and public employee retirement systems are among state legislative priority issues the school board will consider tonight.

Annually the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education creates a list of priorities it would like the state and federal government to address.

New to the federal priority list this year is funding adequate housing for teachers in Nanwalek and Tyonek.

The school district believes remote Native villages suffer high teacher turnover, partly due to inadequate housing.

A new duplex in Tyonek built last year has helped, but a second duplex is needed, as well as a similar complex in Nanwalek.

The school district also would like Congress to address health care costs in the United States. Health care costs are said to be a growing problem for current and retired school district employees in Alaska.

As in past years, the school district is asking the federal government to provide adequate funding for meeting No Child Left Behind mandates.

During a work session scheduled for 4:15 p.m. today, the school board will look at a district improvement plan, a requirement necessitated by the school district not moving above Adequate Yearly Progress Level 2 as a whole last year.

Schools Superintendent Donna Peterson said on Friday, “We’ll talk about students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.”

Meeting federal requirements for students with disabilities is a problem shared with schools across the country, according to Peterson.

As required every five years, charter school reapplications have been filed by Fireweed Academy, Aurora Borealis and Soldotna Montessori charter schools, and will be considered by the board tonight.

Assistant Schools Superintendent Glen Szymoniak said Fireweed in Homer is seeking to expand from offering third to sixth grades to kindergarten through sixth grade next year, and expanding through 12th grade in 2008.

“I wanted the board to know the nature of their request,” Szymoniak said Friday.

“They want to increase their current enrollment from 62 students to 154 students in 2008,” he said.

Noting that the school district does not oversee charter schools — the school board has that responsibility — Szymoniak said the district wants the administrators of both the neighborhood schools and the charter schools to work together to make the shared facility arrangement work for both entities.

“We shouldn’t be crowding the neighborhood school to accommodate sharing space with a charter school,” he said.

The school board meeting is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in Soldotna.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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