News Release: State funding set for public education

State funding set for public education

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Soldotna, June 23, 2017—The Alaska State Legislature adopted a budget which includes Status Quo K-12 education Base Student Allocation (BSA) funding for the 2017-2018 school year. Superintendent Sean Dusek said:

“Now that the legislature has come to a budget agreement for K-12 funding, we are able to move forward to prepare for the new school year beginning August 22, 2017. We will fill open teaching positions as best we can, and hope to have a full staffing recommendation for the school board to consider soon. We thank and appreciate the efforts of our legislators and local leaders in this process. We thank our staff, families, and community members who invested time and effort to learn about education revenue and expenditures, as well as advocate to the legislature and borough on behalf of our excellent schools in the KPBSD.

It is our hope that future funding for K-12 education will be decided much earlier in the process to avoid the uncertainty of programs and opportunities for our students experienced during these past several months. We will continue to work with the legislature to fulfill the goal of a sustainable, responsible, long-term fiscal plan that will allow Alaska to continue to be a vibrant and attractive state in which to live.”

HB57 is awaiting transmission to the Governor, and the next step in the legislative process is for the Governor to sign and adopt the budget.


Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Contact: Pegge Erkeneff, Communications Liaison, 907.714.8888, communications @



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Students drone and buzz during Upstream Academy

With the State Troopers

STEM Camp in Kenai
One nonstop week, 34 KPBSD students, community volunteers and instructors make a definite buzz in Upstream Academy, a STEM camp for Title VI middle school students! May 29 – June 3, 2017, students from throughout the KPBSD lived at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska, to take part in the weeklong overnight camp which emphasized up and coming drone technology. Title VI funding made the camp possible, free of charge to students, with each being able to take home their own Parrot Mambo mini drone.

Design and build
Engineers from Homer Electric Association, Tesoro, and Conoco Phillips volunteered their time to help students learn to fly and code their drones through an obstacle course designed to simulate medical aid drops in needed areas.

2017 Upstream Academy

Drones in flight

In addition to learning about and working with drones, the students took part in field trips to the Kenai Peninsula College, where they learned about the paramedics and process technology fields.

Paramedic School

Students were able to learn about their heritages through visits to the K’beq Cultural Center, and the Dena’ina Wellness Center, plus participation in a talking circle led by Dena’ina staff.

K'Beq Heritage Site Drumming

Technology and public safety
Alaska State Troopers were on site with their SWAT team robot and Bear Cat, where students learned about how technology can be used to keep Troopers and civilians safe in difficult situations.

Future State Trooper Nash

Exploration and connection
Additional activities included a field trip to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, a Challenger Center Mission to Mars, a community service project with the City of Kenai, and recreation times at Jumpin’ Junction, Mountain View Elementary gym and playground, and the Kenai Central High School pool.


The week-long camp ended after a family BBQ at Spirit Lake on June 3, 2017, where campers said goodbye to newly made friends and asked camp staff if they could come back next year! Plans are in the works for future Upstream Academy camps.

Story contributed by Rachel R. Pioch, KPBSD Migrant Recruiter, Skyview Middle School, Title VI Tutor, Native Youth Leaders Advisor

Group Photo

Connect on Facebook: KPBSD Native Education Program


RAMP it up! Natalie Kant blazes a trail for Alaska school counselors to follow

Natalie Kant RAMP award NSCW2017

“Skyview Middle School (SMS) is the first school in Alaska to be designated with national Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) recognition,” said Natalie Kant, Skyview Middle School counselor. This year 104 schools from 27 states will receive this designation.”

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) established RAMP  to promote exemplary school counseling programs. The Skyview Middle School (SMS) counseling program uses leadership, advocacy, and collaboration skills to make a difference for all students. Through a collaborative effort involving the counselor, students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders and other stakeholders, the counselor develops and delivers a comprehensive data driven ASCA National Model program that benefits every student. The counseling program promotes individual student growth and systemic change, leading to bridging gaps in overall achievement, opportunity, and attainment.

“This year’s RAMP honorees have shown their commitment to students and the school counseling profession,” said Jill Cook, ASCA assistant director. “These schools used data to drive their program development and implementation so all students can achieve success. RAMP designation distinguishes these schools and encourages school counselors nationwide to strive for excellence.”

The RAMP designation is awarded for aligning with the criteria in the ASCA national model. In addition to completing a required information section, RAMP applicants must document their efforts across twelve different areas, including:

  • create a school counseling program philosophy and mission statement
  • develop school counseling program goals
  • utilize a school counseling program advisory council
  • implement outcomes-based classroom and small group programming
  • conduct what ASCA refers to as “closing the gap” activities

“I am so proud of the SMS counseling department,” said Sarge Truesdell, principal. “The Recognized ASCA Model Program (RAMP) application process was rigorous to say the very least. Ms. Kant’s desire to align our counseling program to the RAMP model and to make changes at SMS based on what is best for students is what makes her such an amazing school counselor. While we are the first school in the state of Alaska to be recognized as a RAMP model school, I hope other KPBSD schools will follow our lead and go through the process. It really is what’s best for kids.”

“In short, Skyview Middle School is being recognized for aligning the work they do to the American School Counseling Association (ASCA) National Model,” said Kant. “The counseling department put together evidence based research to support what SMS has in place for student support and success. The application submitted was 27 pages long with 102 attach supporting documents. I believe this recognition happened because the amazing leadership on the district team, our principal Mr. Truesdell who without a doubt supports me and the vision and mission of KPBSD, the SMS advisory council, the entire staff at SMS, my district counseling colleagues, and the support from my husband and family.”

SMS school counselor Natalie Kant will receive the RAMP award on July 10, 2017, during an awards presentation.



KPBSD School Board is frustrated #AKleg

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The Alaska State Legislature
Conference Committee on Hb57
Representative Paul Seaton
Senator Lyman Hoffman
State Capitol
Juneau, AK 99801

Dear Representative Seaton and Senator Hoffman:

On behalf of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Board of Education, I am writing to express our frustration over the Legislature’s inability to produce and pass a budget for the fiscal year 2018. The impact on our schools, staff and students caused by this inadequacy cannot be understated. Our district has less than 55 work days before school doors open again to welcome students for another year. The few summer weeks that schools are closed, the district office administration works diligently to plan and prepare so that our school staff have what they need to succeed the minute they return to their buildings. At this point, KPBSD cannot even make crucial decisions on filling vacant positions, much less move forward with other critical preparation.

This legislative session is a perfect example of why the state must develop a comprehensive, long-term fiscal plan that includes forward funding for education. It is unreasonable and unconscionable to expect school districts to function at their highest level and provide a world class education to students when they are held hostage to the legislature’s timeline and inability to move forward in an efficient manner.

If you would like to discuss this further of if our board can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Joe Arness, President
Board of Education

2017_06_08_Board Letter to Legislature re budget concerns

News Release: KPBSD can hire 12 of 30+ frozen positions

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KPBSD can hire 12 of 30+ frozen positions

Soldotna, June 8, 2017—The Borough Assembly passed the Fiscal Year 2018 budget on June 6, 2017, which included funding for the KPBSD school year which begins August 22, 2017. The State of Alaska has not yet determined funding for public education.

Mayor Navarre increased the FY18 borough funding appropriation to KPBSD by $1.5 million over FY17 in Ordinance 2017-19, and the Borough Assembly voted to pass this funding. The Borough will provide KPBSD $38.88 million in Local Effort support available for use by KPBSD, and $10.85 million for operations and in-kind support, for a total appropriation of $49,738,432.

The increase provided KPBSD the fiscal certainty to offer contracts to a handful of local teachers on June 7, 2017, some of who had not yet been offered positions because of the hiring freeze and fiscal uncertainty. In addition, a handful of principals are interviewing for positions now open at their school site, with the ability for KPBSD to offer a qualified candidate a position immediately. The remaining positions are still on hold until the state legislature determines education funding, which could range from status quo to a five percent reduction.

“I am grateful that the Borough Assembly and Mayor Navarre took action that provided some fiscal certainty to the school district. They demonstrated leadership and made some difficult decisions that supported the schools in our district. We will continue to work closely with the Assembly and Mayor in our planning for next year to ensure efficiencies and provide the best opportunities for all of our students in the coming years. We will work together to make our communities positive, vibrant places that our graduates will want to live and work in as they have their own families in the future.” – Sean Dusek, Superintendent of Schools


This and all KPBSD media releases are online at this web page:
Suggest or contribute a story online link:
Please contact Pegge Erkeneff, communications liaison,
with questions or connections to be made for your KPBSD district and school stories.

Mrs. Jeanne Duhan receives Golden Apple award

Jeanne Duhan Golden Apple KPBSD

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | June 5, 2017
Mrs. Jeanne Duhan

Mrs. Jeanne Duhan is an outstanding music educator, a tireless advocate for children, and a kind person. In the past five years at K-Beach Elementary School, Mrs. Duhan has gone above and beyond expectations to meet the unique needs of her students. For example, recognizing the need for more structured music learning activities for students over the summer, Mrs. Duhan cofounded and directed the band of the Con Brio Music Camp for two years. She spearheaded the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District adoption of SmartMusic, which is an innovative software application used to provide band students with individualized feedback on their performance.

Under the guidance of Mrs. Duhan, the K-Beach Elementary band program expanded to include grades four through six, three levels of band instruction, and close to 70 students studying a band instrument. “Jeanne inspires a true love of music and band in her students,” said Kent Peterson, Soldotna High School music teacher. “In addition to performing as a full band, she features many of her students in small ensembles and solos. These soloists and ensembles are sometimes performing at a level that is equal to and beyond what would be expected in grades seven and eight.”

“Additional contributions to our district and the wider music education community include adjudicating at a number of regional and statewide festivals; serving as guest conductor of the Aurora Music Festival Mass Band; serving as a student teaching mentor, as well as an informal mentor to a number of early career teachers in our district; designing and leading a number of professional development programs for our district music teachers, including training in instrument repair, music technology, and band teaching methods; and opening an instrument repair business,” said Jonathan Dillon, Mountain View Elementary music teacher.

In addition to the band program, the students at K-Beach Elementary are not just performing music, but learning how to perform music. The fundamentals of becoming a good musician are taught throughout her classes and will benefit her students and the schools for many years to come. Outside of school, Mrs. Duhan maintains an active performance schedule, and plays the French horn with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, the Redoubt Chamber Orchestra, and various chamber ensembles; Bari saxophone with the Peninsula Jazz Band; and guitar and vocals with the band, Recess Duty. Being so active in the community through music offers inspiration to her students and families.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize Mrs. Jeanne Duhan for her dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

Golden Apple recipients

Jeanne Duhan Golden Apple 2017 June

Jeanne Duhan Golden Apple

Three state virtual choir imagining a wonderful world

2017 Imagine a Wonderful World virtual choir

click to watch Imagine a Wonderful World

In April and May, three KPBSD Redoubt Elementary music classes (4th, 5th, 6th) joined students from Michigan and Texas to learn a song and employ technology to create a video with 115 young people from three states singing the same song together in a virtual choir!

“We are following the model of Eric Whitacre’s virtual choirs, one of which you can see here,” said teacher, Ms. Pugia. “Students learned and recorded, individually or in small groups, a song that they and two other choirs also learned. Together, all of the videos were uploaded and multi-tracked (voice and video) into one cohesive project, so the whole song is heard as if it is sung by just one choir all in the same place!”

Thank you to:

All composer credits are in video. All songs copyright to original composers.

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KPBSD Class of 2017 Graduations

2017 KCHS graduation

“Congratulations to the class of 2017! I’m very proud to send another high caliber group of young people into their future. I wish all of our graduates the best and look forward to seeing the positive difference they will make in the world!” –Superintendent Sean Dusek

Class of 2017 Graduation Dates & Times

Thursday, May 18, 2017

  • Kachemak Selo School – 2:00 PM
  • Razdolna School – 11:00 AM
  • Voznesenka School – Land’s End, Homer 4:00 PM

Monday, May 22, 2017

  • Homer Flex – Land’s End – 5:00 PM
  • Homer High – Homer High Gym – 7:00 PM
  • Hope School – 7:00 PM
  • Kenai Alternative School – K-Alternative Gym – 5:00 PM
  • Soldotna High School – Soldotna Sports Center – 7:00 PM

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

  • Nikiski High School – Nikiski High Gym – 7:00 PM
  • Nikolaevsk School – 5:00 PM
  • Seward High School – 7:00 PM
  • Susan B. English – 4:00 PM

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

  • Kenai Central High School – Renee C. Henderson Auditorium – 6:30 PM
  • Nanwalek School – 1:00 PM
  • Ninilchik High School – Ninilchik School Gym – 7:00 PM
  • Port Graham School – 4:00 PM
  • River City Academy – Soldotna Sports Center – 6:00 PM
  • Tebughna School – Tebughna School Gym – 6:00 PM

Thursday, May 25, 2017

  • Connections – Soldotna High School Auditorium – 4:00 PM

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Departing KPBSD after fifteen plus years

KPBSD appreciates dedicated staff who will retire or depart this year

“This is a bittersweet time of year with our staff. It is a time to celebrate the successes and growth we’ve all experienced throughout the district. It is also a time for transition. We are losing some excellent educators and support staff, and while it is sad they are leaving the district, it is also a time to be thankful for their contributions and also wish them well on their next adventure. So, thanks and best of luck goes to all our retirees and staff moving on to other adventures. You will be missed!” – Sean Dusek, Superintendent

2017 Retiree well wishes

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District appreciates the commitment and service these employees contributed, each with fifteen or more years in the school district. Each of you has made a difference, THANK YOU!

  • Rosemary Bird, Kenai Middle School, Choir and Home Economics Teacher, 37 years
  • Teri Zopf-Schoessler, Soldotna High School, English and Drama Teacher, 33 years
  • Leobof Dorvall, Nikolaevsk School, ELL Tutor and Food Service Manager I-S, 32 years
  • Daniel Hastings, Student Nutrition Services, Districtwide Kitchen Manager, 31 years
  • Mo Sanders, Montessori Charter School, Administrator, 30 years
  • Kenneth Roser, Kenai Middle School, Physical Education and Health Teacher, 30 years
  • Daniel Calhoun, Homer Middle School, Math Teacher, 30 years
  • Linda Raemaker, Soldotna High School, Social Studies Teacher, 29 years
  • Bill Noomah, McNeil Canyon Elementary School, Fifth Grade Teacher, 28 years
  • Marilyn Dvorak, Homer Flex and West Homer Elementary, Custodian I, Food Service Cashier, 28 years
  • Phyllis Halstead, Kenai Alternative High School, School Secretary II, 27 years
  • Eric Benson, Paul Banks Elementary School, Head Custodian II, 26 years
  • Jean Calhoun, West Homer Elementary School, School Secretary III, 26 years
  • Pamela Howard, Tebughna School, School Nurse, 26 years
  • Catherine Patterson, Sterling Elementary School, Food Service Manager I-S, 26 years
  • Katie Blossom, Tustumena Elementary School, Kindergarten Teacher, 25 years
  • David Fischer, Kenai Middle School, Math and Science Teacher, 25 years
  • Michele Stenger, Kachemak-Selo, Kindergarten and  First grade Teacher, 25 years
  • Laurie Olson, District Office, Director of Finance, 24 years
  • Teresa Dalebout, Soldotna Prep School, Special Education Aide, 24 years
  • Stuart Laurion, Soldotna High School, Special Education Aide, 23 years
  • Martha Shirley, Skyview Middle School, Special Education Resource Teacher, 22 years
  • Penny Duncan, Seward High School, Head Custodian III, 22 years
  • Laurie Martin, Paul Banks Elementary School, Second Grade Teacher, 20 years
  • Dolan “Wayne” Cowan, Kenai Middle School, Head Custodian II, 20 years
  • Mary Helminski, Redoubt Elementary School, School Secretary III, 20 years
  • Diane Ames, Nikiski North Star Elementary School, Food Service Cashier, Kitchen Assistant, 19 years
  • Barbara Njaa, Central Peninsula Area Schools, ELL Tutor, 18 years
  • Carol Boehmler, Sterling Elementary School, Third and Fourth Grade Teacher, 17 years
  • David Kingsland, Seward Elementary School, Administrator, 17 years
  • Teri Diamond, Soldotna Elementary School, Administrator, 17 years
  • Janet Szajkowski, Connections Home School Program, Generalist Teacher, 16 years
  • Kimberly Johnson, Chapman School, Second Grade Teacher, 15 years
  • Andrea Fischer, Kenai Middle School, Food Service Manager I-S, 15 years

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Dolphin’s class names drug detective K9

As part of the Safer Alaska initiative, Governor Bill Walker  announced the names for the two new Alaska State Trooper drug detection K9s.  K9-B will be named Mak (short for Kachemak, as in Kachemak Bay) -that name was suggested by Hannah Dolphin’s class at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School in Kenai!

Hannah Dolphin, 6th Grade Teacher, K-Beach Elementary said, “We’re excited! One of my students, Karley Johnson, was the one who came up with the name. When I asked her why she picked it she said, ‘I thought of it because my dad goes fishing a lot. He fishes in Kachemak Bay and I was thinking of some of the days I’ve gone fishing with him.’ My class also thought the name was fun because of the play on words with Kachemak, like “Catch ‘em, Mak!”

As 5th graders, K-Beach students have the opportunity to participate in D.A.R.E, thanks to the Soldotna Police Department. Officer Brennan comes in each year to teach students about positive decision making, and resisting drugs. Our school works closely with the police department, and I think these are really good ways to foster positive relationships between students and law enforcement.”

K9 Contest Winner K9B K-Beach

K9-A will be named M.O.C.H.A. (acronym for Meth, Opioids, Cocaine, Heroin, Alaska); the name was suggested by Ryan Engebretsen’s class at Teeland Middle School in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.

“M.O.C.H.A and Mak will play important, integral roles in our efforts to create a Safer Alaska,” Governor Walker said. “I’m so grateful for the participation of Alaska 6th graders and citizens across the state in selecting these names. I look forward to seeing the important work these new dogs will do.”

The State Troopers will use the K9s to help detect opioids and other drugs in a variety of places across the state in continued efforts to tamp down on drug use and trafficking. Alaska 6th graders initially submitted over 70 potential names for the new dogs after learning about the impacts of drug abuse, and how to respond in difficult situations.

Names were selected via Facebook poll from suggestions made by Alaska 6th-graders.

K9 Mak 2017