The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is requesting community input on the possibility of consolidating Soldotna Prep School and Soldotna High School, a press release from the district says.
The consolidation would move Soldotna Prep ninth grade students into Soldotna High School and relocate River City Academy, closing down the building that houses Soldotna Prep and River City Academy. The press release says this closure would result in an annual savings of around $630,000 in reduced building operations and personnel costs to operate the building, which houses two schools.
“I’ve discussed with our students and parents the possible closure of the Soldotna Prep building, and the potential need for RCA to move,” River City Academy Principal Dawn Edwards-Smith said in the release. “The district is working to find us a location, should we need it. In the eleven years, I have been at RCA, we have moved a number of times. In each of those new spaces, we have built positive partnerships and used the opportunity to evolve.”
Enrollment at Soldotna Prep and Soldotna High is declining, the release said, and both schools are expected to lose teaching staff in the upcoming school year.
“In addition to declining enrollment, the current state budget deficit in Alaska will require the KPBSD to adjust high school staffing formulas—raise the Pupil-to-Teacher Ratio (PTR)—which will increase class sizes and reduce teaching staff at both schools,” the release said.
To retain essential elective offerings for ninth to 12th grade students in Soldotna, and ease the teaching position reductions, the school’s principals believe now is the time to move Soldotna Prep ninth grade students into Soldotna High School, the release said.
“We want to provide the best experiences and most opportunities for the students,” Soldotna High School Principal Tony Graham said in the release. “With the likelihood of an increase to high school pupil-to-teacher ratio and loss of staffing, it will hinder our ability to provide a 10th-12th-grade quality education. However, because of the economy of scale and staffing formulas, a consolidation with Soldotna Prep 9th grade house would allow us to maintain offerings for 9th-12th-grade students that will give them the ability to have a full and rich high school experience preparing them for their future.”
A community meeting hosted by the school principals and John O’Brien, KPBSD assistant superintendent of instruction, will be held at 6 p.m., April 11, in the Soldotna High School Auditorium.
Until April 12, an online survey is also available for parents, students and staff to share their thoughts on a potential consolidation.