Fireweed Academy’s request to expand to kindergarten through 12th grade and spread into classrooms at Homer Middle School is scheduled for a decision by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board during its meeting today at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna.
If the board follows the district’s recommendation, the Homer charter school will be authorized to increase its students from the current enrollment of 62 to 90 third- through seventh-graders, but will stay in the space it currently occupies at West Homer Elementary School.
The administration’s recommendation, drafted by Glen Szymoniak, assistant superintendent, and approved by Superintendent Donna Peterson, outlined four options for the board to consider:
· Option A Add kindergarten, first- and second-grades to Fireweed Academy and house them at WHES.
· Option B Provide four classrooms at WHES and increase Fireweed’s enrollment from 62 to 90.
· Option C Increase the number of rooms utilized at WHES to five classrooms.
· Option D Add grades nine-12 and house 30 students in two classrooms at Homer Middle School.
“The administration recommends the board approve B. ... The district’s intent is for PTR (pupil:teacher ratio) at Fireweed Academy to closely resemble that at the housing school,” the recommendation reads.
With regard to the PTR, Szymoniak said it is the administration’s intent to not crowd neighborhood schools.
“If there’s room available to be used as a science room, the school should be able to use that as opposed to giving it to a charter school so they can reduce their PTR,” he said. “We’re not going to be freely giving up space so someone else can have lower class sizes when the district can utilize that (space).”
Fireweed Academy’s request will be discussed during the board’s work session at 4 p.m. today, during which time Szymoniak plans to offer Fireweed, West Homer and Homer Middle administrators the opportunity to address the board.
“Then after I have a chance to explain the recommendation, it will allow time for the oversight committee and the board to ask questions,” Szymoniak said.
A decision by the board is scheduled for the 7 p.m. meeting.
Also on the school board’s agenda for today’s work sessions are policy review, including field trip policy revisions; Port Graham grade configuration; and a tech prep update.
During the meeting, the board will receive financial reports and six-year enrollment projections.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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