Kenai Middle School Principal Vaughn Dosko points out elements of a redesign plan for the front of the school on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Middle School Principal Vaughn Dosko points out elements of a redesign plan for the front of the school on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

School board considers capital improvement plan

Of the 13 projects included on the district’s priority list, eight are being funded through the school maintenance bond

Nearly all of the projects included on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s draft capital improvement plan for the upcoming school year have already been scheduled for completion or were included in a borough bond package passed last year.

That’s according to the district’s draft priority list for the 12-month period beginning on July 1, which was presented to members of the board of education last week.

Of the 13 projects included on the district’s priority list, eight are being funded through the school maintenance bond passed by borough voters last fall. Those projects include security improvements at Kenai Middle School, the reconstruction of Soldotna Elementary School and repairs to the siding at Soldotna High School.

Another three on the list are already scheduled to be finished during the upcoming fiscal year, including a $3.5 million roof replacement project at Homer High School, roughly $860,000 to address earthquake damage at Seward Middle School and about $703,000 for wall sealing at West Homer Elementary School.

The only project on the district’s priority list for the upcoming fiscal year that has not yet been funded or scheduled for completion is $750,000 worth of drainage improvements at Homer Middle School.

KPBSD Planning and Operations Director Kevin Lyon told members of the board of education last week that the state grant program is the primary source of state funding for capital projects at schools. The state has previously also reimbursed school districts for debt incurred by bonding for school facility projects, however, that program is suspended until at least 2025.

How high KPBSD ranks a certain project on its list of priorities affects how applications for state funding are considered by the state. All grants require KPBSD to pay for 35% of the total project cost.

Also on the draft list is the construction of a new K-12 school building in the remote community of Kachemak Selo. That project has long been a priority of both the school district and the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which owns school facilities. Kachemak Selo School serves about 30 students out of dilapidated residential buildings that are out of code compliance.

The state has previously said it will pay for two-thirds of a $15.4 million school building, or just over $10 million, but the borough in recent years has challenged how much money it should be expected to contribute to the project. At a 35% match, the borough is responsible for about $5.4 million.

The state most recently agreed to give the borough two more years to come up with the local match, or until June 2024. Former Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre told borough assembly members earlier this year that the borough has already set aside $3 million for its local match.

A full copy of the district’s draft capital improvement plan can be found on KPBSD’s Board Docs page.

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

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