Board welcomes new faces

Board of Education member Debbie Cary was elected in October for a three year term representing District 7. (Photo Courtesy of Board of Education)

Board of Education member Debbie Cary was elected in October for a three year term representing District 7. (Photo Courtesy of Board of Education)

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education said goodbye to familiar faces and welcomed new ones at its first meeting following the October election on Monday.

New board members Debbie Cary and Jason Tauriainen joined re-elected board members Penny Vadla and Mike Illg to be sworn in at the beginning of the meeting.

With all members present, but Vadla participating by phone, they voted to reorganize the board.

Vadla will serve as the board president. Zen Kelly will serve as vice-president. Dan Castimore will serve as clerk and Illg will serve as treasurer.

The board also welcomed new student representative, Cavin Metzel of Soldotna High School, who was selected at the district-wide student council meeting on Sept. 14.

“I am looking forward to meeting new people and doing my best to represent the student body and Soldotna High School,” Metzel wrote in a letter to the board.

The board also took several opportunities to say thank you to former board members Bill Holt and Joe Arness.

“I want to thank Joe Arness for his service,” said Illg. “Being a new board member, with the longtime that he was, he was very welcoming and helpful.”

Tauriainen also expressed gratitude to Arness, who had served on the board for over 20 years.

“I want to thank Joe for his years of service,” Tauriainen said. “I ran because I wanted to be a part of this process, it wasn’t so much an indictment of Joe.”

The board also took a moment to thank outgoing Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre by awarding him with the Golden Apple.

“When the district has needed funding, he has recommended, supported and followed through on providing additional funding,” said board member, and the mayor’s brother, Tim Navarre. “He believes in public education because he believes in children and is optimistic about their future, especially if it is grounded in a quality education.”

The mayor accepted the award to a standing ovation and said that he is grateful for the great education he received from the district.

“It really set me up and provided me with the tools I needed to be successful in my life and my career,” Mike Navarre said. “The state does have some challenges ahead of it, as does the school board, but we’ll get through it. While the cost of education is expensive, the cost of ignorance is much higher.”

Reach Kat Sorensen at

Board of Education member Jason Tauriainen was elected in October for a three year term representing District 3. (Photo Courtesy of Board of Education)

Board of Education member Jason Tauriainen was elected in October for a three year term representing District 3. (Photo Courtesy of Board of Education)

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