Meet the candidates: Dan Castimore, District 1, school board

Castimore currently holds the Kalifornsky seat.

Dan Castimore is running again for the Kalifornsky seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education. (Photo courtesy of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)

Dan Castimore is running again for the Kalifornsky seat on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education. (Photo courtesy of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District)

Dan Castimore is running for the Kalifornsky Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education seat he currently holds. Castimore is the IT manager for the city of Kenai and has served on the school board for six consecutive years.

When you served on school board, what do you think you were able to accomplish in your role?

I don’t know if there’s anything singular or particular, but I would say we’ve done everything we can to keep our class sizes low, which is not something that’s easy to show off. This is not a shiny project, but the fact we’ve been able to keep our PTR — which is the number of kids in each classroom — low, has definitely been a victory for us here.

Why are you running?

This is the third time I’ve run. I’ve really enjoyed being on the school board. Both of my parents were teachers in this district. My wife is a certified teacher, and she subs here. Both of my kids go to school here. I feel like I have something to give back and I’ve enjoyed doing it and I’d like to continue to do it.

What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected to the school board?

Continuing to work through the difficult time that is to come. There’s no doubt the next couple of years will not be better than the last couple. Everything in Juneau points to a cut in funding. This is the first year the borough has basically funded us to the cap, a couple hundred thousand short of the cap, but it’s the first time in a long time they’ve basically funded us to the cap. Unfortunately, this means they don’t have more money to give us now. We’ve always been able to go back to them and they’ve always been able to be a hero. It’s no longer going to be the case. It’s definitely going to be a challenging few years. There’s a good chance we’re going to be looking at consolidating some schools. We’re probably going to have to consolidate some programs. It’s going to be challenging. It’s not going to be the most fun time, but I think I still have something to give. It takes a long time to learn about all the systems the district has in place and the ways that funding mechanisms work and I feel like I’m finally getting to the point where I’m knowledgeable enough to move forward effectively.

What sort of challenges does the school district face in the next three years, and how do you hope you can address those issues?

Finances are going to be a major challenge. Like everything, every year, the prices keep going up. Every year we get the same or less. It’s challenging to try and do the same good job we have been doing, when basically you have less money.

With limited funding coming from the state and borough, how should the school board work to create a balanced budget?

I think we’ve always created a balanced budget. We don’t have the ability to deficit spend. We’ll use fund balance and we’re going to continue to use fund balance. The contract we negotiated is going to require us to use quite a bit of our fund balance over the next few years.

The district lost a record number of teachers and staff last year. What can the district do to attract and retain the best educators?

I think a large reason we had — and it’s not a popular thing to say — but the large reason we had so much turnover was we had teachers vote to go on strike in May. I don’t know that a lot of teachers would look for employment in a district where the teachers voted to go on strike. Truthfully, we didn’t lose that many. People make it sound like we lost all these teachers. We average 70 teachers a year in turnover. I believe this year we were closer to 90. But, it’s not like we lost three times as many as we typically lose. It’s also the first time in a long time we’ve had positions not all filled. Once again, I think a lot of that is because it was a very tumultuous time here. I wouldn’t want to be taking a new job in a district where everyone was embroiled in strike talks. I can tell you that looking at the compensation we offer and being intimately familiar with our contract — everyone likes to make it sound like we don’t compensate our teachers well. When you compare us to other districts in the state, we’re where we should be. We can’t always be at the top, but we’re certainly not at the bottom. I think a lot of it is the fact that the economics of this state are not great right now. All the stuff coming out Juneau, ‘let’s cut everything,’ that’s causing a lot of people to rethink if they want to be in the state. I don’t know how much of that has to do with the district as opposed to just the general feeling of the state right now.

More in News

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26 on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
State lifts burn suspension

Residents may now obtain permits for burn barrels as well as for small and large-scale brush fires.

A chart produced by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services shows four risk factors in being infected by COVID-19. (Graph courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
17th Alaskan dies of COVID-19

There were 23 new positive cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday.

Noah and Eddie Land of Grace Acres Farm in Kasilof set out produce Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at the Farmers Fresh Market at Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Freshness times 2

DoubleUp program helps seniors, families eat healthy

In this July 20, 2013 file photo, several thousand dipnetters converged onto the mouth of the Kenai River to catch a share of the late run of sockeye salmon headed into the river in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file photo/Rashah McChesney)
Dipnetters banned from retaining kings

Dipnetting on the Kenai River opens Friday.

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska, is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Application period for borough relief funds begins Monday

Borough residents can apply for these grants July 13 through July 24.

A young volunteer chases three piglets named Mary Hamkins, Petunia and Sir Oinks-a-lot through a race during the pig races at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Kenai Peninsula Fair canceled this year

Cotton candy, carnival rides and racing pigs will have to wait for… Continue reading

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
State reports 30 new cases; hospitalizations reach new high

The cases include 28 residents and two nonresidents.

photos by Megan Pacer / Homer News 
                                A youth rider takes a turn riding a bull calf during the 60th annual Ninilchik Rodeo on Saturday, July 4 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik. The rodeo lasted throughout the July Fourth holiday and celebrated a return to the event’s roots.
Riding high in Ninilchik

Ninilchik Rodeo celebrates 60 years with events new and old.

A closed sign is posted at a retail store shuttered due to the new coronavirus, in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to vote on relief funds for businesses, nonprofits

CARES Relief and Recovery Grant funds would be rolled out in two phases.

Most Read