Schools face drastic cuts

Alaska, News, Print

Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion

Increased class sizes, no more sports and the closure of several schools are just a handful of the steps the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District would have to take to meet Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s proposed reduction to state funding for education, according to a news release from Pegge Erkeneff, communications liaison for the district.

Should the governor’s proposed budget pass through the state Legislature, the district would face a $22.4 million cut.

Erkeneff said nothing on the list is set in stone, but it paints a picture of what could happen is funding is cut.

To meet the reduction, classes would increase, the district said in the release.

Educators could expect to see seven additional students in their high school classes, six additional students in middle school classes, two extra students in elementary classes and two to three additional students at K-12 schools and through Connections Homeschool. The release also says administrators could be reduced and professional development support for new teachers could be eliminated.

For support staff, some job classifications may be eliminated, along with a reduction of hours and contract days for some positions.

Without adequate funding from the state and Kenai Peninsula Borough, the district may also have to eliminate all sports in all high schools and middle schools along with athletic directors and coach stipends. Extracurriculars like music, yearbook and debate would also face elimination.

Charter schools would receive a reduction in funding.

The district’s mobile app, which sends information and news alerts in the district to students and parents, would be cut. In-service meals and snacks would be discontinued and funding for Student Nutrition Service would be reduced, according to the release. School supplies would see a 10 percent cut. School Technology Plan purchases would be eliminated.

The closure of six schools are the most dramatic cuts listed in the news release. Chapman School in Anchor Point, McNeil Canyon School in Homer, Nikiski Middle-High School in Nikiski, Seward Middle School in Seward and Soldotna Prep in Soldotna are all schools being considered for closure if the proposed budget passes. School pools and theaters in Kenai, Homer, Ninilchik, Seldovia, Seward and Soldotna could also be closed. The release says additional closures and consolidations are under review.

The current capacity of schools, enrollment, location and a number of other factors are being analyzed when considering possible school closures and consolidations, Erkeneff said.

In addition to the eliminations and reductions listed in the release, $5 million in additional cuts would still be needed to meet the deficit of the governor’s proposed budget.

The release said the list was compiled with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education after several budget meetings in February.

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