Soldotna Prep School is pictured on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in Soldotna, Alaska. The school was recently shuttered and classes combined with Soldotna High School. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna Prep School is pictured on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019 in Soldotna, Alaska. The school was recently shuttered and classes combined with Soldotna High School. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

District mulls moving elementary students to Soldotna Prep

Borough considers land where the two elementary schools are now as a location for new fire station.

The borough and school district are considering moving Soldotna Elementary School and Soldotna Montessori school students to the vacant Soldotna Prep School building.

The borough and district are in early conversations about the potential move, Superintendent John O’Brien said at Monday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting.

“It’s extremely early in this process and no decisions have been made,” O’Brien said.

A memo from O’Brien included in Monday’s school board agenda says Mayor Charlie Pierce and Borough Land Management Officer Marcus Mueller approached the district with the idea to relocate Soldotna Elementary and Soldotna Montessori, who share a campus, to the Soldotna Prep building.

The move could save the borough money, but the Soldotna Elementary School facility “will require significant capital expenditures to extend its useful life,” the memo said.

Soldotna Prep building is also bigger than the Soldotna Elementary and Soldotna Montessori building, is in better physical condition and has a longer expected useful life.

The borough is also interested in the land where the two elementary schools are now, and think it could be an idea location for “a new state-of-the-art Central Emergency Services fire station and headquarters,” the memo said.

“The Borough is very interested in the land location where the current Soldotna Elementary and Soldotna Montessori schools are located, and believe that this location could be ideal for such a purpose and facility,” the memo said.

Before conversations move forward, a facility and program feasibility study will be conducted, the results of which will be shared with the school board.

In addition, significant remodeling and renovations to create an age-appropriate instructional setting at Soldotna Prep would likely be needed. Remodeling responsibility would probably fall on the borough, the memo said.

The earliest the project could be implemented would be in the fall of the 2021-2022 school year.

“I will keep the board updated as more information becomes available,” O’Brien’s memo said. “I will also be working with the building principals in all three schools to ensure that staff, parents, students, and school communities are involved and engaged in this discussion.”

If the feasibility study shows the project makes financial sense, the borough and district would engage in community discussions.

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