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

Bradley Walters leads the pack up Angle Hill on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Summer races kick off at Tsalteshi

The annual Salmon Run Series 5K races start on July 6 and continue every Wednesday through Aug. 3

Central Emergency Services staff wait to receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly mulls bond for new CES fire station

Replacement of the current station is estimated to cost $16.5 million

Buldozers sit outside of the former Kenai Bowling Alley on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Old Kenai bowling alley comes down

The business closed in 2015

Landslide debris surrounds part of Lowell Point Road on Friday, June 3, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly looks to mitigate future Lowell Point Road dangers

Assembly members approved legislation supporting agencies working to address the “repetitive hazards”

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Department of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Most Read