The Kachemak-Selo Middle-High School building sits against a backdrop of the ridge separating the village from the Kenai Peninsula Borough road system Thursday, Aug. 30 in Kachemak-Selo. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

The Kachemak-Selo Middle-High School building sits against a backdrop of the ridge separating the village from the Kenai Peninsula Borough road system Thursday, Aug. 30 in Kachemak-Selo. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)

Voters unlikely to see K-Selo bonds on the ballot again

Assembly looking to other options for funding

The borough is still trying to find the money to build a new school in Kachemak-Selo, although voters shouldn’t expect to see another bond package on the ballots.

At the May 21 Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, Mayor Charlie Pierce said he met with staff concerning the recent extension to the $10 million state grant, which would help build a new school. The state grant requires a 35% match, or around $5 million from the borough. Pierce said he doesn’t plan to put up another bond package on the ballots to cover the match.

“There was a request made that I put it out for bonding again,” Pierce said. “I don’t think we’re there. I don’t think we’re anywhere near prepared for putting this project on the street for a bond. I think it’s failed.”

K-Selo has been in need of a new school for nearly 10 years. In 2011, the Old Believer village petitioned the school board for a new facility. In 2016, the state appropriated $10,010,000 for construction of the school, but in order to proceed the borough needed to provide a match. Borough residents voted down the match bond package, which was nearly $5.5 million, last October.

Pierce said he hopes to get local lawmakers to weigh in on how the borough should proceed.

“Hopefully we’ll get some of the legislative representatives together and talk about the direction we can go with this project,” Pierce said at the meeting. “What we need to do is sit down with our elected officials from the state and get some direction from them about what variables they have. Perhaps they have some suggestions.”

At the May 21 meeting, assembly member Kelly Cooper addressed concerns about the new school’s potential price tag and size.

The current school in Kachemak-Selo is made up of three borough-leased buildings and serves about 46 students. In a December memo to the assembly, the borough noted the current school has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer viable as an educational facility.

The proposed new K-12 school would be 15,226 square feet, the memo said. Some residents have expressed concerns about the $16 million costs for the school, given its remoteness and small student population. However, a state statute based on the number of students dictates the size of the school, and the borough does not have the flexibility to downsize the building if they’re using bond money.

”We do have a statutory requirement to provide facilities for people who want to get an education in Alaska, whether they’re remote or on the road system,” assembly member Kelly Cooper said at the assembly meeting. “I don’t think anyone in the southern peninsula wants us to build a facility that’s much more than what they need. I think the residents in that community and the voters want us to be responsible with that money and provide a good safe place to get the education they need.”

One of the largest drivers of cost comes from the remote nature of the village. The community sits at the bottom of a steep bluff only accessible by a dirt switchback trail, too narrow and steep for most vehicles to traverse. The borough initially considered upgrading the road to borough standards but found it would be too expensive.

Pierce suggested the borough commission concept drawings for a potential school to get a better idea of the cost.

“We should consider spending dollars up front to do some actual conceptual drawings and design work at an architect or with some engineers that really look at it, look at the site and put some better numbers to it,” Pierce said.

Pierce said he would continue to meet with borough staff and assembly members to address the community school.

More in News

Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney speaks during the 100% Alaska Community Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
100% Alaska survey results, state of services discussed at town hall

Change 4 the Kenai leads conversation about access to mental health, housing, transportation

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to a proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Awaiting state funding, board of ed works to bring back staff positions

Alaska lawmakers this session passed a budget bill that includes $175 million in one-time funding for Alaska’s K-12 schools

David Brighton (left) and Leslie Byrd (right) prepare to lead marchers from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Nobody Can Drag Us Down’: Soldotna celebrates LGBTQ+ pride

The event featured food trucks, vendors and a lineup of performers that included comedy, drag and music

Judges Peter Micciche, Terry Eubank and Tyler Best sample a salmon dish prepared by chef Stephen Lamm of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank at Return of the Reds on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the Kenai City Dock in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai celebrates ‘Return of the Reds’ in food bank fundraiser

Chefs competed for best salmon recipe; fresh-caught fish auctioned

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Excellent lake fishing, good halibut and slow salmon

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 1

Map via Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Assembly to consider emergency service area for Cooper Landing

Borough legislation creating the service area is subject to voter approval

Peter Micciche (center) listens to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly certify the results of the Feb. 14, 2023, special mayoral election, through which he was elected mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Thousands respond to borough services survey

Many of the survey questions focused on the quality of borough roads

Two new cars purchased by the Soldotna Senior Center to support its Meals on Wheels program are parked outside of the center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.(Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Soldotna budget defunds area senior center

The unanimous vote came after multiple people expressed concerns about how the center operates

An Epidemiology Bulletin titled “Drowning Deaths in Alaska, 2016-2021” published Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Screenshot)
Health officials say Alaska leads nation in drowning deaths, urge safe practices

A majority of non-occupational Alaska drownings occur in relation to boating, both for recreation and for subsistence

Most Read