An arch marks the entrance to the Church of St. Nicholas on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Nikolaevsk, Alaska. In rear, cars are parked in front of a building that has been used this school year as a makeshift classroom for families part of a home-school cooperative. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

An arch marks the entrance to the Church of St. Nicholas on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023, in Nikolaevsk, Alaska. In rear, cars are parked in front of a building that has been used this school year as a makeshift classroom for families part of a home-school cooperative. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikolaevsk, Forest School charters not moving forward

Nikolaevsk’s application sought a school with closer adherence to the practices of Nikolaevsk’s Russian Old Believer community

A pair of proposed charter schools on the southern Kenai Peninsula will not be moving forward. Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent Clayton Holland said the district’s decision to reject one application was upheld by the state and another application was withdrawn by its applicant.

During a Monday meeting of the district’s Board of Education, Holland said that earlier that same day he had received information from the Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development indicating that the district’s October rejection of the application for Nikolaevsk Charter School will be upheld.

Also, an application for the Homer Forest School has recently been withdrawn, he said, after organizers were unable to secure a facility.

Per previous Clarion reporting, Nikolaevsk’s application sought a school with closer adherence to the practices of Nikolaevsk’s Russian Old Believer community. Organizers cited declining enrollment in an existing school within the community and other concerns in staffing and transportation.

The application was rejected by the board in October, voting five against and four in favor. Those who voted against supporting the decision cited concerns with the scope of the school, its budget, curriculum and the lack of funding for special education.

Chandra Caffroy and Mariah Kerrone, two Nikolaevsk parents who helmed the charter application, told the Clarion at the time that they felt their application was strong, and that they would be appealing the decision to the state.

The state board did not respond to request for comment, and no documentation of their rejection was found on their website Tuesday.

Draft minutes say that the state board discussed the Nikolaevsk charter in a Feb. 28 meeting under executive session. The session was convened and held privately “to obtain legal advice regarding Nikolaevsk Charter School’s appeal of the denial of its charter school application.”

Organizers of the Nikolaevsk Charter School also did not respond to request for comment on Tuesday.

Previous Clarion reporting says that the Homer Forest School envisioned nature-centered learning and immersion in the outdoors.

Charter schools differ from other public schools in that charter curricula can vary from the curriculum adopted by the school district, according to KPBSD.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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