KPBSD board members quizz Chenault over next session

  • By Rashah McChesney
  • Tuesday, December 2, 2014 10:49pm
  • News

Kenai Peninsula Board of Education members sat down with Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, to ask him about the upcoming legislative session — set to convene on Jan. 21. The following are paraphrased questions from school board members and Chenault’s answers.

Q: What are we looking at this year?

“I don’t know, it’s a new administration with new people.”

Q: Is there anything, in specific, that we’ve been lacking in the past years that you’d like to see from us?

“No, what’s lacking is the legislature’s ability to decide what they want to do. In all reality, we beat you guys up because we want higher graduation rates, you give us higher graduation rates and you want more money. We can’t tell you what we want to see and that’s a big one. We can’t tell you what we want and until we can tell you what we want, how can we hold you responsible for achieving those goals with whatever money happens to be available?”

Q: Has anybody thought about dipping into the state’s pockets to deal with deferred maintenance and infrastructure and giving the state an incredible economic boost? Some of the issue that we have are going to end up in court costing us money.

“Here’s the big problem. It depends on what you think about deferred maintenance? When was the last time the Kenai School District got money for deferred maintenance.”

Q: The state would benefit from (deferred maintenance spending) and what’s good for the state is good for us. What about spending on social programs that could help us save money in the future?

“In my tenure as a legislator, I have heard more sales pitches about ‘if we do that program, it’s going to save us. I have yet to see any one of those programs come back and say ‘here’s the money we saved.’ Not a one.”

Q: It comes back to not having to spend it.

“You could argue that. But, our spending goes up for social programs every year. You can tell me it didn’t go up as high this year because of a program, but it goes up every year.”

Q: (The cost of) your pizza goes up every year.

“It doesn’t go up every year. But, yeah, I mean we’ve have spent some exorbitant amounts of money on capital projects throughout the state that have kept Alaska out of the doldrums as far as what the rest of the U.S. has seen in the last recession. I think that helped, but the problem is that the state doesn’t have the money to do that and how do you justify spending that money. At the rate we’re going, in four or five years, that’s what the bean counters say, we’ll be out of money if we keep spending at the rate we are.”

Q: What are you hearing on education-related bills? Are you hearing on some that are getting ready to be filed?

“Nothing probably new. I suspect that somebody is going to probably throw a (base student allocation) bill out there. There’s talk in some circles about an insurance pool. There’s some talk out there that if the state’s paying the bill, the state ought to be negotiating the (teacher’s) contracts. There’s different ideas out there, nothing new.”

Reach Rashah McChesney at

More in News

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly Candidate Bill Elam waves signs on election day on Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voters take to the polls during Tuesday municipal election

Poll workers report low turnout across the central peninsula

Some of the pumpkins submitted to the pumpkin-decorating contest are seen here during the 5th annual Kenai Fall Pumpkin Festival in Kenai, Alaska, on Oct. 10, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Kenai’s Fall Pumpkin Fest set for Saturday

The fun actually starts early, as a central element of the festival is a pumpkin decorating contest already underway

Aurora Borealis Charter School Art and Music Teacher Eleanor Van Sickle leads students in a performance of "Autumn Canon," a Hungarian song at a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Student serenade

Aurora Borealis Charter School students sing at the assembly during the regular school board meeting on Monday

Bear 747, defending Fat Bear Week Champion, stands on the bank of the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, Alaska. The winner of a Thursday matchup between Bear 128 Grazer and Bear 151 Walker will meet 747 in Fat Bear Week competition on Saturday. (Photo courtesy C. Cravatta/National Park Service)
Survival of the fattest

Paunchy ursine competitors go head-to-head in annual Fat Bear Week

Soldotna Elementary School Principal Dr. Austin Stevenson walks amid natural gas pipes anchored to the outside of school on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
High costs stall work on school bond

A cost estimate for the reconstruction of Soldotna Elementary School came back $13.5 million over budget

(City of Seward)
Police standoff closes Seward Highway

Police say standoff was with ‘barricaded individual,’ not escaped inmate

Mount Redoubt can be seen across Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Alaska not included in feds’ proposed 5-year oil and gas program

The plan includes a historically low number of proposed sales

A copy of "People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska" stands in sunlight in Soldotna, Alaska, on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Moose Pass to receive award for community historical effort

“People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska” was a collaboration among community members

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board Member Debbie Cary speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. Cary also served on the borough’s reapportionment board. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School board president receives award for meritorious service

Debbie Cary, of Ninilchik, is the Alaska Superintendent Association’s 2024 recipient of the Don MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award

Most Read