Matt Morse is photographed on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Matt Morse is photographed on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District candidate Matthew Morse

Election 2021

Matthew Morse is running unopposed for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Kenai seat. He was first elected to the board in 2018 and has stated that this is the last time he will run for reelection. He’s a business owner with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences and has three adult children.

Morse has described himself as a fiscal conservative and said during an interview at the Clarion’s office on Friday that his interest in the school district’s finances contributed to his decision to run for a seat on the board in 2018. Among the issues he’s championed over the years are the phase out of district health insurance for school board members and for there to be fewer school board members who have conflicts of interest with the district.

Among KPBSD’s recent successes, he said, is the approval of contracts between the district and the district’s teaching and support staff unions. There’s still work to be done, however, on the issue of school maintenance, he said. The district prepared a list of 19 maintenance projects earlier this year that it has proposed putting out to bond. The biggest project on the list is the construction of a new school in the community of Kachemak-Selo, which Morse said needs to be addressed.

Morse said he’d like to see the $5 million borough match be split between the school district and the Kenai Peninsula Borough; the state would chip in $10 million. As long as the school isn’t being built, Morse said, the state is less likely to prioritize borough projects in the future.

“Every time it’s listed as an emergency and you don’t do anything about it, you get a downgrade for priority for future projects,” Morse said. “So not only are we not getting the school done, we’re hurting ourselves for other things that might come up like earthquake damage.”

More recently, he’s been a vocal critic of the school district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Morse said Friday that while he appreciates the difficult position former KPBSD Superintendent John O’Brien was in during the 2020-2021 school year, there were things he would have done differently.

“School board members said we wanted more kids in school and that was the exact opposite of what happened,” Morse said, referring to when most KPBSD schools operated remotely at the end of 2020.

In reflecting on how current KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland is doing since he took over, Morse said he “had high hopes,” but that he’s been disappointed at the number of schools where universal indoor masking, which he said he believes is not effective, has been implemented. Though everyone has a common goal of wanting to make sure staff and students are safe, Morse said he doesn’t think the district needs to consult with a medical advisory team and would like to see the district’s close contact policy revised.

“Every time a kid’s identified as a close contact, they’re out of school for a whole week and that obviously defeats the goal of having kids in school,” Morse said.

Ultimately, Morse said he thinks he has done a good job of representing the wishes of Kenai residents and that it’s reflected in the fact that he is running unopposed.

“I think people know my stances,” he said.

The municipal election is on Oct. 5.

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

More in News

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Young to face off with a Begich yet again

Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich’s entry into the race.

A remote galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is greatly magnified and distorted by the effects of gravitationally warped space. (Image via NASA)
Grant brings NASA to library

The grant supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math programming for patrons.

A spruce bark beetle is seen on the underside of a piece of bark taken from logs stacked near Central Peninsula Landfill on Thursday, July 1, 2021 near Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
State urges driver caution at Bing’s Landing this week due to work

The work is part of the State of Alaska’s efforts to mitigate the spruce beetle outbreak on the Kenai Peninsula.

Ashlyn O’Hara / Peninsula Clarion 
A chicken eats kale inside of a chicken house at Diamond M Ranch on April 1 off Kalifornsky Beach Road. The ranch receives food scraps from the public as part a community program aimed at recovering food waste and keeping compostable material out of the landfill.
More food for the chickens

Central peninsula group awarded grant to expand composting efforts

The Little Alaskan children’s store is seen in Kenai on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. Located where Bargain Basement used to be in Kenai, the shop opened this weekend. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Little’ shop goes big

Little Alaskan occupies the space where Bargain Basement used to be in Kenai.

Nurses Melissa Pancoast and Kathi Edgell work shifts at the intesive care unit at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna on Sept. 22. October was the deadliest month so far for COVID-19 deaths at CPH, with 11 of 30 deaths that have taken place at the hospital since the beginning of the pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Chief Nursing Officer Karen Scoggins)
‘The deadliest month we’ve had’

One-third of total COVID deaths at CPH took place in the last month.

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Most Read