Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education attend a meeting on Monday, July 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education attend a meeting on Monday, July 12, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

School district uses COVID funds for summer programs

Flying drones, tie-dye and esports were among the activities offered at programs hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District this summer. The school district used federal COVID-19 relief money to fund the programs.

According to KPBSD Director of Elementary Education Eric Pederson, who spoke about the programming during the KPBSD’s July 12 Board of Education meeting, programs were geared toward student literacy, physical and social emotional wellness, STEAM, alternative high school credit recovery and traditional credit recovery. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

The “Literacy Boost” program, for example, provided continued instruction to district students in kindergarten through third grade who received intervention services during the school year. That program offered four hours of instruction four times a week and saw 25 certified teachers work with 252 students.

Pederson said that in crafting summer programming, the district wanted to offer acceleration and enrichment in addition to remedial work programs.

“It wasn’t all about catching up on mastering the concepts from the past semester but rather preparing students for the present and the future,” Pederson said.

He added that district teachers were attuned to student’s needs coming out of the most recent school year and that they were given the opportunity to pitch summer programming ideas to the school district via a process he compared to ABC’s Shark Tank.

“This district has some really creative and dedicated teachers working for them,” Pederson said.

Natalie Kant, who is a counselor at Skyview Middle School, directed two overnight camps held at the middle school, including a Drone Camp and a Computer Science Camp. Kant shared survey responses from kids who participated in the camps that were positive and said the programs encouraged “fun” learning through unique activities.

“Over my 30 years of teaching this is the funnest thing I’ve ever put together,” Kant said.

The summer programming made possible with federal COVID funding is in addition to a summer work program that was offered for students with disabilities. That program, made possible through a partnership between the district and the Alaska Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, placed participating students in local businesses to get hands-on work experience.

Olivia Orth, who teaches special education at Soldotna High School and helped lead the program, said the program worked with students to address everything from showing up to work on time, to what to wear to their first day on the job, to how to fill out important paperwork. At the end of the week, Orth said they come together to talk about what went well and what was challenging.

In all, the school district has received three rounds of federal COVID-19 relief funding, which comes from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, fund.

KPBSD received about $2.3 million in original ESSER funds under the federal CARES Act, just over $9 million in ESSER II funds through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and about $20.4 million in ESSER III funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. Twenty percent of ESSER III funding, or about $4 million, must be set aside for learning loss recovery.

KPBSD Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes said Monday that the first round of ESSER funds was spent during Fiscal Year 21, which started on June 30, 2020 and ended on July 1, 2021, including on summer programming. In contrast, ESSER II and ESSER III funds will be over the next three years. ESSER II funds must be spent by June 30, 2023, and ESSER III funds must be spent by June 30, 2024.

The KPBSD Board of Education’s full July 12 meeting can be viewed on the district’s media page at media.kpbsd.k12.ak.us.

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

More in News

Sarah Knapp / Homer News
The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m.
Mag 8.2 earthquake rattles Gulf Coast, triggers tsunami warning

Lara Hildreth and Cindy Buchanan never expected their vacation would end in… Continue reading

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski attends a joint Soldotna and Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘An investment in our country’

Murkowski details implications of infrastructure deal for Alaska

Stephanie Queen speaks during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna mulls return of COVID mitigation protocols at city facilities

The council ultimately recommended mask wearing among city employees while working indoors

Central Peninsula Hospital Pharmacy Technician Jessica Hulet rolls a cart carrying doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine into Central Peninsula Hospital on Wednesday, Dec. 16 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Hospitals busier and busier amid COVID spike

Close to 70% of Alaska’s hospital beds are full amid another surge… Continue reading

A banner supporting Olympic swimmer Lydia Jacoby hangs outside of First National Bank Alaska in her hometown of Seward on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Local briefs: Jacoby may swim again, ‘Little Mermaid’ and a final rodeo

Jacoby may race in relay medleys The Seward Tsunami Swim Club has… Continue reading

The Alaska SeaLife Center in downtown Seward is seen on Saturday, July 24, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Habor seal pup admitted to Alaska SeaLife Center

The seal was found on a beach near the center

The Homer Spit is evacuated during the July 28 tsunami warning at about 10:50 p.m. (Photo by Sarah Knapp)
UPDATE: Peninsula given all clear following earthquake, tsunami warning

An 8.2 magnitude earthquake Wednesday night spurred tsunami evacuations for coastal communities

Photo provided by River City Books 
River City Books is marked with anti-masking graffiti on Wednesday.
Anti-masking graffiti found at River City Books

River City Books was defaced with anti-mask and anti-COVID-19 vaccine rhetoric after… Continue reading

A new sign welcoming people to the City of Soldotna is photographed on May 1, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to auction off surplus goods

The City of Soldotna will auction off surplus city goods, vehicles and… Continue reading

Most Read