The Kachemak Selo Middle-High School building sits against a backdrop of the ridge separating the village from the Kenai Peninsula Borough road system Thursday, Aug. 30 in Kachemak-Selo. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

The Kachemak Selo Middle-High School building sits against a backdrop of the ridge separating the village from the Kenai Peninsula Borough road system Thursday, Aug. 30 in Kachemak-Selo. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Board of Ed group will focus on district’s small schools

A newly minted Kenai Peninsula Borough School District group will focus on the needs of the district’s small schools and advise the board members on how to best support those schools.

The Small Schools Committee, which KPBSD Board of Education members approved the scope of earlier this month, will include Debbie Cary as chair, Zen Kelly as co-chair, Virginia Morgan and Patti Truesdell.

Cary said via text Thursday that, for the purposes of the committee, small schools include Susan B. English School in Seldovia, Port Graham School, Nanwalek School, Razdolna School, Voznesenka School, Kachemak Selo School, Tebughna School in Tyonek, Nikolaevsk School, Ninilchik School, Chapman School, Cooper Landing School, Moose Pass School and Hope School.

The committee will be temporary and meet as needed prior to school board meetings.

“Due to the nature of small schools with unique locations and challenges, there is a particular importance to propose innovative solutions to support students in their education,” the committee charge says.

Efforts to form a committee that focuses on KPBSD’s small schools started last year with Kelly, who represents some of the district’s smallest schools, including those in Nanwalek, Kachemak Selo, Razdolna, Fox River and Port Graham, among others. He served as board president last year and said he created the committee in response to concerns about how small schools could be better supported.

“What I kept hearing, as my two years of president of the board, was, ‘How can we support our smallest schools?’” Kelly told board members earlier this month. “So that’s why I formed this committee.”

The charge approved by board members earlier this month says the committee will review and make recommendations to the board of education about initiatives that could benefit small schools. That is in addition to suggesting ways for the board to understand small schools’ strengths and challenges and improving collaboration between the district and communities with small schools.

The goal of recommendations made by the committee would be to ensure that KPBSD’s small schools are adequately staffed and given additional support for those staff. Additionally, ensuring there are reliable and varied distance education opportunities for students, supporting the “unique social needs of rural students,” and increasing place-based opportunities are priorities.

The committee will also include up to two student representatives, to be elected annually by KPBSD’s districtwide student council.

The KPBSD School Board’s full Small Schools Committee charge can be found on district’s on the district’s Board Docs page at go.boarddocs.com/ak/kpbsd/Board.nsf/Public.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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