Forensics competition showcases KPBSD talent!

“What is Forensics?” We are not talking about science or crime lab stuff like you see on CSI— this kind of forensics has to do with public speaking, oration and debate.


Students from nine KPBSD schools traveled to Tustumena Elementary on Saturday, February 25, 2017, to recite poetry and prose, present interpretative readings, or deliver story telling in front of an audience of judges and parents. This was not a spur of the moment decision, but the culmination of weeks or months of preparation and practice by fourth through sixth grade students and elementary staff all across our district.

Why do we take time out of our busy teaching schedule to work on forensics? The positive benefits of public speaking have been well documented. Besides the fact that forensics can be fun, it can also increase student self-esteem, promote leadership skills, increase communication skills, provide an outlet for creative expression, and increase student understanding and connection to literature. Over 95% of students that participate on high school speech and debate teams go on to a college education. Many colleges and universities also give scholarships to students who participate and do well in this extracurricular activity because employers are often seeking workers with good communication skills. Of all of these excellent reasons for students to practice and learn forensic skills, one of the most important reasons might be that these skills can help them throughout the rest of their lives; at work, at home, and in the community.

The elementary school forensics competition process starts with 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students choosing a piece of literature to present. These pieces must be between one to five minutes long and can be performed by a single student or by a group of two or more together. After choosing whether to present a poem, prose, a short story or reader’s theater, the students must research the author’s intent and try to convey that meaning with their tone of voice, inflection and movements. Shorter pieces must be memorized, which builds strong recall skills. After working on their pieces, students compete in a class-wide competition. Students with high enough scores move on to compete at a school level competition. These students are judged by three judges and only the best go on to compete at the annual district-wide competition. At this competition, students once again present their pieces and are judged against a rubric designed for their age group and category. First, second, and third place ribbons are awarded to the top performers in each category. This is an opportunity for students to receive recognition for their hard work and dedication. It is truly remarkable to watch the level of poise and sophistication of these top performers.

This 2017 district-wide forensics competition is over, but you shouldn’t feel left out. Next year’s competition is just around the corner, it will be held in late February or early March,2018, at Tustumena Elementary. Remember, it is never too early to start looking for a good piece of literature to practice and present! And, it’s a wonderful spectator event for parents, friends, and the community.

Story contributed by JoEllen Fowler and Lisa Gossett

Scroll down for results!

2017 KPBSD Forensics Competition


Congratulations to students from the nine competing schools! First place winners:

  • Humorous Poetry, Grade 4: Madelyn Ross, K-Beach Elementary
  • Humorous Poetry, Grade 5: Nolan Boehme, Nikiski North Star Elementary & Hannah Leaders, Soldotna Montessori Charter School
  • Humorous Poetry, Grade 6: Liam Harris, Redoubt Elementary
  • Humorous Prose, Grade 4: Alexis Wells, Redoubt Elementary
  • Humorous Prose, Grade 5: Cody Thompson, Redoubt Elementary
  • Humorous Prose, Grade 6: Aleysa Strait, Aurora Borealis Charter School
  • Interpretive Reading, Grade 4: Kaydence Monti, K-Beach Elementary
  • Interpretive Reading, Grade 5: Melanie Woodard, Seward Elementary
  • Interpretive Reading, Grade 6: Kelsie Kenner, Redoubt Elementary
  • Interpretive Reading, Multi/Grade 4: Abigail Doepken & Bethany Doepken, Seward Elementary
  • Interpretive Reading, Multi/Grade 5: Christopher Smith & Kael Aamodt, Sterling Elementary
  • Interpretive Reading, Multi/Grade 6: Hannah Stonorov, Josh Latham, Faith Latham & Kavindra Johnson, McNeil Canyon Elementary
  • Non-Humorous Poetry, Grade 4: Jack Linquist, Moose Pass School
  • Non-Humorous Poetry, Grade 5: Casey Bryden, Moose Pass School
  • Non-Humorous Poetry, Grade 6: Selena Payment, Soldotna Montessori Charter School
  • Non-Humorous Prose, Grade 4: Brian Bliss, Tustumena Elementary
  • Non-Humorous Prose, Grade 5: James Bush, Tustumena Elementary
  • Non-Humorous Prose, Grade 6: Daisy Rogers, Soldotna Montessori Charter School
  • Poetry, Multiple/Grade 4: Sam Klein & James Innes, Aurora Borealis Charter School; Gage Bradford & Hunter Forshee-Kutz, Seward Elementary; and Alexandra Casey & Sofia Loboy, McNeil Canyon Elementary
  • Poetry, Multiple/Grade 5: Jaxon Brophy & Koen Pace, Aurora Borealis Charter School
  • Poetry, Multiple/Grade 6: Zoe Cravens & Desiree Bunts, Sterling Elementary
  • Prose, Multiple/Grade 5: Leora McCaughey & Maggie Grenier, Nikiski North Star  Elementary
  • Prose, Multiple/Grade 6: Brook Fischer & Josie Sheridan, Tustumena Elementary; and Jordynne Audette & JulieAnn Nye, Aurora Borealis Charter School
  • Story Telling, Grade 4: Delaney Smith, K-Beach Elementary
  • Story Telling, Grade 5: Katelyn Derleth, Redoubt Elementary
  • Story Telling, Grade 6: Blake Lewis, Redoubt Elementary

Thank you to all the students in KPBSD schools who competed, the many volunteers, and Tustumena Elementary School for hosting the event! 

Posted in KPBSD District Stories by Pegge. No Comments

Online Summer 2017 Session Opportunities

Alaska Studies, Computer Applications 1, 2, or 3, Employability Skills, Government,
Health, and Keyboarding (Typing) 

The KPBSD Distance Learning Program is offering eight online courses for the 2017 Summer Session to KPBSD students.

Free of charge, registration for these courses is first come, first serve. Once the course is full students will be placed on a waiting list.


Online Summer School Opportunities 2017


How do I contact the Alaska State Legislature?

How do I contact the Alaska State Legislature

March 22, 2017, Education funding update

Education funding and the House of Representatives – Status Quo education funding

The House of Representatives passed HB57 operating budget, which includes Status Quo education funding. This is in alignment with the Governor’s proposed budget. Today it was announced HB57 bill is scheduled <pending introduction and referral> with the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) on Thursday, March 23, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.

Education funding and the Senate – unknown. Possibly 5% reduction*

The Senate Finance Committee proposed operating budget SB22 does not have an amount for education funding included, yet. Last week during public testimony, when several KPBSD constituents called and emailed legislators, and testified at LIO offices, Senator Lyman Hoffman said the SFC would be reducing education funding by 5% when it was added in this week. However, no action has taken place in SB22. If you take two minutes to read the testimony from Superintendent Dusek, and from Assistant Superintendent Jones, you will better understand the work KPBSD is doing to assist with a fiscal plan, and learn how that even with Status Quo funding, costs continue to rise, and it is challenging to continue to innovate and successfully meet the needs of every child who comes through the door.

The uncertainty about education funding is stalling KPBSD from issuing contracts to our non-tenured teachers, in whom we have a significant investment. Further delay will force newer staff to seek positions elsewhere. This will negatively impact students and create increases in the professional development costs required to prepare newly hired employees.

The Borough has not yet made a commitment to FY18 funding, and if the state reduces foundation formula funding in the BSA, that has a negative impact and linked effect on the amount the Borough can provide.

KPBSD asks you to contact legislators to offer your thoughts about a fiscal plan and education funding.

Legislators representing the Kenai Peninsula:

Senate Finance Committee members


What can you do?


KPBSD appreciates the hard work and advocacy of all of our local legislators, and as we wait upon the Senate to make decisions, we are thankful that Senator Micciche and Senator Stevens support education on the Kenai Peninsula.

Recent Alaska Legislatures have a strong history of properly funding K-12 education. The numbers from this year’s Alaska Senate Majority Survey show that the majority of Alaskans would like to see that continue. KPBSD asks the legislature to continue funding as in the past.

Several new education related bills have been proposed this week. KPBSD administration is analyzing and reviewing these bills, and will keep you up to date.

Save the date!
On April 6, 2017, from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m., Superintendent Dusek will provide a legislative and budget update via Skype for Business, followed by a question and response time. Everyone is invited.
Hosting schools where you can gather in person are: Homer Middle School; Mountain View Elementary; Nikiski Middle-High School; Seward Elementary; Skyview Middle School; and Susan B. English School.

Thank you for your advocacy, and care for our students, our staff, our schools, and communities. Your voice might make the difference. Please speak up to share about why you value education and want to see the good results for our young people continue into the coming years.


*Think in terms of this:
If the Alaska State legislature passes additional revenue cuts to state education funding, the KPBSD $3.45 million budget deficit will increase. And, state reductions can affect the Kenai Peninsula Borough maximum allowable contribution to KPBSD. The additional state funding impact to KPBSD would be:

  • 1% Reduction to BSA = ($ 1.05 million)
  • 3% Reduction to BSA = ($ 3.18 million)
  • 5% Reduction to BSA = ($ 5.29 million)

Ten KPBSD teachers equates to one million dollars.

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Time to Testify; Education funding absent in SB22 operating budget work draft

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Contact: Pegge Erkeneff, 907.714.8888

News Release

Your opinion counts. Offer your thoughts about K-12 education funding to the Alaska Senate Finance Committee today

The current version of SB22 does not include a funding amount for education.

At the opening of public testimony on March 16, 2017, Co-chair Senator Lyman Hoffman clarified that education funding is not included in the current budget proposal because the Senate Finance committee, “contemplated that may be reduced by 5%, or a nickel on a dollar.”


Soldotna, March 16, 2017—Education funding is absent in the SB22 operating budget work draft. State aid for the education foundation formula will be added back in on Monday. Except, testimony on the budget is today and tomorrow, this week.

Will you please take two minutes to tell the Senate Finance Committee why you value funding education? Give your perspective in person, by telephone, via email*

If the state education funding is cut by 5 cents on every $1.00, it’s likely that 50 KPBSD teachers could be eliminated, and no longer be educating our youth in August, 2017. 

*Senate Finance Committee – SB22 Operating Budget – Statewide Public Testimony

Time limit is two minutes. Thursday, March 16:
9:00 – 10:30: Juneau
1:00 – 2:00: Glennallen, Seward, Homer
2:00 – 3:30: Statewide Offnet
3:30 – 5:00: Anchorage
5:00 – 6:00: Kenai, Kodiak, Dillingham

Written testimony can be submitted to

Superintendent Sean Dusek said today, “I’m very concerned about what the Senate is contemplating. Now is the time for people’s voices to be heard, and fully engaged in this process.”

Senate Finance Committee, 3.16.17


Go to a local LIO office in Homer, Kenai, or Seward; call-in; or email your testimony.

General instructions

  • Public testimony limited to 2 minutes per testifier
  • If you are a member of a group with the same message, in the interest of time, please select a spokesperson to testify for the entire group
  • Identify yourself (first and last name), the community in which you live, and any relevant affiliations

By Phone (LIO offices in Homer, Kenai, and Seward, plus Off-Net):

  • Public members are strongly encouraged to testify from their Legislative Information Offices (LIOs), as there are limited Off-Net phone lines that are prioritized for those who are unable to physically reach their LIO;
  • If public members cannot reach their LIO, they may use the limited Off-Net phone system
  • 844-586-9085 (toll-free) or 907-586-9085
  • All Off-Net callers are required to hang up immediately after testifying in order to keep as many lines open as possible for other callers.

Written testimony:

KPBSD fiscal reality
KPBSD requests the Legislature maintain status quo funding, as proposed by Governor Walker.

The KPBSD FY18 proposed budget is calculated with a status quo funding for education. Status Quo funding projects a KPBSD deficit of ($ 3.4 million)*.
To balance the budget, KPBSD identified expenditure reductions of ($ 2.6 million), and the use of General Fund Balance (savings) of $ 872,358. This is prior to additional education funding cuts. The $2.6 million dollars in expenditure reductions includes 30.76 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions.

If the Alaska State legislature passes additional revenue cuts to state education funding, the KPBSD $3.4 million budget deficit will increase. And, state reductions can affect the Kenai Peninsula Borough maximum allowable contribution to KPBSD. This is the additional state funding impact to KPBSD:

  • 1% Reduction to BSA = ($ 1.05 million)

  • 3% Reduction to BSA = ($ 3.18 million)

  • 5% Reduction to BSA = ($ 5.29 million)

A 5% reduction in state funding also reduces the Borough’s ability to fund KPBSD by $1,217,554.

Perspective: Ten KPBSD teachers equates to one million dollars.

For several years, budget reductions have come through efficiencies, Pupil to Teacher Ratio (PTR) increases, and reduction of staff. Increased costs related to healthcare and serving our intensive needs students continue to rise.

The effects of these cuts have been kept as far away from the classroom as possible and most of the public do not realize these are already in effect. But, $8,550,530 has already been reduced in KPBSD since FY15.

  • FY15 Budget Reductions       ($1.25 million)
  • FY16 Budget Reductions          (1.37 million)
  • FY17 Budget Reductions          (3.44 million)
  • FY18 Budget Reductions          (2.48 million)

Total Budget Reductions:        ($ 8.55 million)

Further reductions to education funding in FY18 will increase the deficit, thus likely impact KPBSD staff, classroom instruction and support. Mr. Dave Jones, assistant superintendent of instructional support said, “Any perceived fat in the budget has been cut, and any further reductions will have to be personnel related.”


The number one KPBSD Board of Education legislative priority is, “Provide sustained, reliable, and adequate education funding for Alaska’s students.”


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Industry certification opportunity for teens | Alaska Petroleum Academy

KPBSD teens, will you be 18 by June 30, 2017?

You have the opportunity to earn industry certifications in Kenai, from The Alaska Petroleum Academy.

Certifications offered include:

16 Hour Petroleum Health & Safety
24 Hour CITS Certification
40 Hour Hazwoper Certification
Confined Space Entry Certification

Classes will be held at the Work Force Development Center~Kenai Central High School, and are open to all KPBSD teens.

Requirements: students  must be 18 by June 30, 2017, and be able to attend all training dates. The program only allows 20 students to attend and if more sign up an interview process will be held.

Sign up through the KPBSD OneStop website

Training Schedule

  • Wednesday, March 29, 3pm – 8pm (5 hours)
  • Thursday, March 30, 3pm – 8pm (5 hours)
  • Friday, March 31, 3pm – 8pm (5 hours)
  • Saturday, April 1, 8am – 5pm (8 hours)
  • Sunday, April 2, 8am – 5pm (8 hours)
  • Monday, April 3, 3pm – 8pm (4 hours)
  • Tuesday, April 5, 2pm – 7pm (5 hours)

Alaska Petroleum Academy Poster '17

Miss Stephanie awarded Golden Apple

Golden Apple Stephanie Young PBE

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
Golden Apple Award | March 6, 2017
Stephanie Young

“Miss Stephanie” Young is an exemplary community partner at Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer, Alaska.

The kids call her “Miss Stephanie,” and she cares deeply about the students and staff of Paul Banks Elementary, and the community of Homer. A skills trainer through The Center, Miss Stephanie has a firm but gentle way with her clients and the students she serves at Paul Banks. She is always kind while simultaneously providing rigorous support. She is one of those people who bring out the best in not only the students, but the adults around her. She is always positive and supportive. Miss Stephanie goes beyond normal expectations in many ways, for example, by donating her lunch hour to support a teacher meeting with a parent. She gives her clients extra attention because they really need it, and she lends a hand wherever it is needed.

Always willing to chip in, she invests her time training other skills trainers, and is very effective, and frequently called upon to provide guidance to other skills trainers. Paul Banks staff says, “We know that we have become better teachers and Paul Banks has become a better school from having her in the classrooms!”

Stephanie takes time to think things through, wants to brainstorm about what is working, and what might work for her often very difficult clients. Due to student confidentiality, we cannot share specific stories, however, staff members say, “She is always willing to meet, even on her own time and has excellent ideas to share. When things are not working, Stephanie stays patient and supportive of both the students and staff, and works together with us to find solutions.” Often staying after the school day, she will meet with students and teachers to better meet the needs of students. When she has down time from her work she supports other families in need, and provides support beyond her duties as a Skills Trainer on her own time, doing things such as helping to create manipulatives, activities, and schoolwide activities.

Outside of the school, Stephanie helps out with church activities and has been a foster parent. For many years, she helped with youth groups. Youth group is a place for kids to come together to sing, and to play sports and other recreational games. Through community service projects they make it a point to visit and sing at Long Term Care several times a quarter. She also helps with the Truth Seekers program.

The Paul Banks staff believes, “When we think about people that are truly good for kids and good for our schools, we think of people like ‘Miss Stephanie’ Young!”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is proud to recognize “Miss Stephanie” for her dedication to the students of the school district, past, present, and future.

Click here to nominate a business, community member, volunteer, or KPBSD staff for Golden Apple recognition
Golden Apple recipients

Stephanie Young Golden Apple PBE

Cinderella’s Closet is open for prom shopping!

The Soldotna Prep School music room is transformed, and open Monday and Tuesday from 3:00-6:00 for all area teens from schools in the KPBSD.

Local area ladies in 9th through 12th grade are invited to shop for prom shoes, dresses, and makeup.

Thank you to the volunteers, and for donations from businesses, and ladies in the area—all items are free to the teens who shop!

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Cinderellas Closet at SoHi 2017

Posted in School Stories by Pegge. No Comments

Celebrate KPBSD music teacher Jonathan Dillon

2017_Jonathan Dillon - concert picture mountain view

Meet Jonathan Dillon, music teacher at Mountain View Elementary!

In 2016, three Alaska Arts Educator Fellowships were awarded, including a music specialist, a visual arts specialist, and a kindergarten teacher. All three were awarded to KPBSD educators!

Mr. Dillon, Mountain View Elementary music educator,  furthered his study of elementary choral conducting through the Kodály Program at Seattle Pacific University in July 2016. During the program, Dillon participated in choral conducting masterclasses, performed in lab choirs directed by professional conductors, taught an elementary general music lesson, wrote a number of new learning plans, and more—all under the guidance of some of the top elementary music and conducting experts in the Pacific Northwest. Dillon used his follow-up grant to start an elementary choral music library for the Mountain View Youth Chorus, an after-school program in Kenai, Alaska.

In his final report, Dillon reflected:

“This professional development program exceeded my expectations as an opportunity to improve my craft as a conductor and artist, but also prepared me to become a better teacher in general … I’m ecstatic about putting what I’ve learned into practice!”

Facebook: Mountain View Elementary, Kenai, Alaska
Website: Mountain View Elementary
Website: Alaska State Council on the Arts

Meet KPBSD Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired

Mrs. Engebretsen and two of her students visit a KPBSD elementary school during Celebraille month!

Mrs. Engebretsen and two of her students visit a KPBSD elementary school during Celebraille month!

Do you have a dream?


Meet Jordana Engebretsen, KPBSD teacher of the blind and visually impaired! Mrs. Engebretsen teaches KPBSD students who are blind and visually impaired, and she herself is blind. Jordana organizes community events and outreach in KPBSD schools to aid sighted people learn about braille and blindness. #Celebraille


In addition, Jordana has a vision, and serves students with disabilities through summer camps. She entered The 2017 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition competition to expand that service, and Jordana needs your vote by March 7, 2017, to progress in the competition. Winning will help her realize her dream to expand her summer camps for children with disabilities to Iceland and Peru.

Meet Jordana in her 85 second video, and CLICK HERE to vote

I have always want to give to others. Yes, I am blind and mobility impaired, however, I am blessed beyond comprehension. I am alive, able to talk, to touch, to hear, and to think. I have a beautiful family, a strong faith, a job that I like and so much more! I believe what Hellen Keller said, ‘The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision’.

I entered the The 2017 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition competition, which could allow me further my dream to expand camps for children with disabilities if I’m awarded $25,000! I made a video, that needs your popular vote in order to progress to the next level of competition. Yes, I’m blind, and made a video!

I uploaded a YouTube video of my project, and it’s titled “Jordana Engebretsen: Reaching Your Full Potential No Matter Your Ability.”  I want to develop camps in two new locations: Iceland and Peru.

Your help is needed for me to progress, please watch the video and please give it a thumbs up.

I want to give more children and youth with disabilities the opportunity to participate in a camp experience. You can check out what I’m currently doing at our website I have developed and led these camps for several years.

Muchas gracias,

Jordana Engebretsen
KPBSD teacher of the blind and visually impaired, TVI, MA

Holman Prize for Blind Ambition

“The Holman Prize is not meant to save the world or congratulate someone for leaving the house. This prize will spark unanticipated accomplishments in the blindness community. You will see blind people doing things that surprise and perhaps even confuse you. These new LightHouse prizes will change perceptions about what blind people are capable of doing.”
 — Bryan Bashin, CEO at LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Jordana and vision impaired student

Jordana and KMS ramp 2011

KPBSD FY18 Budget 101 ~ funding, expenses, links, facts

PDF: 2017 Spring KPBSD Budget Awareness

2017 Spring KPBSD Budget Awareness_Page_1

KPBSD FY18 Budget 101

Where does revenue come from?

KPBSD receives funding from three sources:

  1. State funding (this is a constitutional mandate)
  2. Borough, or “local” funding ($ linked to state funding)
  3. Federal and Grant funds (designated expenditure categories that are non-transferable to other expenses)

A school district does not have authority to raise its own revenue.

What is an expenditure?
Primary expenses are staff and classroom instruction. Like a business, planning and operations, information systems, utilities, etc. are also included.

How-to balance the budget?

  1. Align revenues and expenditure
  2. Request that the state legislature, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough fully fund education
  3. If available, use General Fund reserves (savings account) to fund deficit, in order to avoid staff reductions and increased class sizes

Balancing the FY18 Budget

Status Quo Revenue projects a deficit of  ($ 3.45 million)*
Projected FY18 Expenditure Reductions      
(2.48 million)
Use of General Fund Balance (savings)          1.13 million

*The Alaska State Legislature may recommend and vote to make additional reductions to education funding.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough has the ability to increase support to education funding, by contributing to the maximum allowable contribution, also called a cap.  

Go-To resources:

2017 Spring KPBSD Budget Awareness_Page_2

KPBSD Fiscal Reality – Our challenge

“Alaska is addressing its ongoing fiscal challenges, and it is important that everyone is involved in the conversation to ensure a long-term fiscal plan is finally implemented.”
— Superintendent Sean Dusek, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

KPBSD Reductions:

For several years, budget reductions have come through efficiencies, Pupil to Teacher Ratio (PTR) increases, and reduction of staff.

The effects of these cuts have been kept as far away from the classroom as possible and most of the public do not realize these are already in effect. But, $8,550,530 has been reduced since FY15.

FY15 Budget Reductions        ($1,254,000)
FY16 Budget Reductions          (1,375,000)
FY17 Budget Reductions          (3,436,829)
FY18 Budget Reductions          (2,484,701)
Total Budget Reductions    ($ 8,550,530)

Further reductions to education funding in FY18 will increase the deficit, thus likely impact KPBSD staff, classroom instruction and support.

If the Alaska State legislature passes additional revenue cuts to state education funding, the KPBSD $3.45 million budget deficit will increase. And, state reductions can affect the Kenai Peninsula Borough maximum allowable contribution to KPBSD. This is the additional state funding impact to KPBSD:

  • 1% Reduction to BSA = ($ 1.05 million)
  • 3% Reduction to BSA = ($ 3.18 million)
  • 5% Reduction to BSA = ($ 5.29 million)

Ten KPBSD teachers equates to one million dollars.

What can you do? #ideas