Borough to propose bonds for new K-Selo school

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters may be asked to take on revenue bonds to fund a new school for the remote Old Believer community of Kachemak Selo.

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s administration plans to introduce an ordinance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly to ask voters to approve an approximately $5 million bond package to help finance the school. The state has already promised approximately $10 million for the construction, but the borough is required to provide a match.

Kachemak Selo is one of three small Old Believer Russian Orthodox villages east of Homer on Kachemak Bay. The village’s approximately 46 students currently attend school in a set of converted houses with a variety of structural flaws, like cracks in the walls and substandard power.

The state appropriated the money with the condition of a borough match in June 2016. However, the borough match was too high to fund out of pocket, so the borough has been considering how to pay for it since, as well as where to put the new school facility. Pierce said at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting on Tuesday that the biggest cost drivers are building the road access and upgrading the power connection.

“There’s a workgroup working on this and we will very soon bring some options to (the assembly) as far as bonding the matching dollars,” Pierce said.

Borough staff members were headed down to meet with the Kachemak-Selo community Wednesday and talk about the future for the school, Pierce said. The site selection committee identified a preferred location for the school up above the village, he said. Kachemak Selo is separated from the rest of the Kenai Peninsula’s road system by a steep set of switchbacks that the borough has previously identified as a cost barrier because it would be too expensive to bring that system up to borough road standards.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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