Your voice is essential: state lawmakers want to know where you stand

News Release: Your Voice is Needed

Community schools, sports and activities, and effective class sizes are critical to continue successful outcomes for K-12 schools on the Kenai Peninsula. In February, the Governor proposed a budget substitute for the 2019-2020 school year that will result in a cut of $22.4 million from KPBSD schools. 

However, the Governor and state legislators want to hear from you about that proposed budget before it is set in stone. Therefore, now is the time to join the conversation and contribute to positive outcomes for our young people through these opportunities to speak up about what you value in schools and education funding:


Saturday, March 23, 2019


Monday, March 25, 2019

  • 4:00 – 5:00 PM: The Birds Eye View weekly KSRM 920 AM radio show, guest Governor Michael J. Dunleavy. Call in number: 907-283-5811, listen live online


  • 6:00 – 8:00 PM: The Cannery Lodge, Kenai. Statewide Discussion for a Permanent Fiscal Plan with Governor Dunleavy and team. Event is full, wait list only.*


“One thing is clear, in order to be successful, we must have the engagement and support of the Alaskan people.”
– Governor Michael J. Dunleavy

“Cuts and efficiencies are possible and necessary, but these proposed reductions would have significant impacts on elders and youth, rural and urban residents, and every facet of our economy. Because of this stark reality, all budget decisions must be informed by input from people across our state.”
– House Speaker Bryce Edgmon

*KDLL 91.9 FM public radio will stream these events live.

District administration, principals, and the Board of Education identified cuts that will be necessary if the Governor’s proposed budget is adopted. This list is $5 million shy of the proposed $22.4 million cut.

2019_March KPBSD 22.4 million in proposed cuts




KPBSD Graduate Inspiration: Dean Carignan, Kenai Central High School #ClassOf1987

“I know that I’m in a good place in my career because I am excited to come to work each day and, on the drive home, my mind is spinning about all the interesting and exciting topics I addressed throughout the day. Moreover, I feel I am working on technologies that, implemented in the right way, can have a massive positive impact for humankind. And I am lucky to work for a company with strong values that shares my desire to use technology as a force for good.”

-Dean Carignan, Director of Program Management for Artificial Intelligence Research, Microsoft Corporation
Kenai Central High School, Class of 1987

 Dean Carignan Kenai Central High School

When he graduated from Kenai Central High School in 1987, do you think Dean imagined he would one day be the Director of Program Management for Artificial Intelligence Research at Microsoft Corporation?

Oh, the places you’ll go! #AKlearns

In his current role, Carignan is responsible for planning and orchestrating Microsoft’s long-term strategy in the field of Artificial Intelligence. He’s worked on a variety of teams including Xbox, Windows, Surface, and Bing for the past 14 years at Microsoft, and served in a variety of functional areas including marketing, product management, business operations, and strategy. Prior to Microsoft, Dean worked at the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, and before that with The World Bank. He holds a Bachelor of Science in International Relations from Georgetown University, and a Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.


Life-long learning
“Approach learning as a life-long endeavor—the world is changing incredibly fast and skills that are relevant one day can become obsolete the next,” explains this director of program management for artificial intelligence research. “The best way to ensure long-term work security is to develop solid learning capabilities that enable you to expand your skills and knowledge over a lifetime. Do not think of learning as drudgery but as one of the greatest joys humans can experience. Think deeply about the contexts in which you learn most effectively and in which you most enjoy the learning process. Then seek out those learning contexts wherever possible. Develop the habit of lifelong learning now while in school and it will serve you well throughout your entire life.”


My 6th grade teacher #LifeSkills
Dorothy Besch was his 6th grade teacher, and Dean remembers, “She ran an incredible classroom that combined academic learning, life skills, and just plain fun. I recall looking forward to school every day and being amazed at how much I learned. One unique exercise was a ‘pretend’ social gathering in which Mrs. Besch coached us on how to mingle and make ‘small talk.’ This was not part of any formal curriculum but it delivered skills I’ve used almost every day in my adult life!”


AI, podcasts, productivity

“I work on Artificial Intelligence, and I worry about the ability of intelligent machines to replace humans in many important jobs. To help address this concern, I serve on a special task force at Microsoft that looks for ways to ensure that Artificial Intelligence is designed and deployed in ways that augment humans and make them more productive rather than replace them. In addition, I am a slow reader and for many years feared this would prevent me from consuming the large volume of industry news and information that is necessary to stay current in the technology field. Thankfully, industry podcasts have enabled me to acquire virtually all of the needed information audibly. I am even able to listen to my podcasts at double the normal playback speed so I get twice the amount of information in a given listening session.”


A life-long learner, innovator, and family man living in Kirkland, Washington, Dean adds,My church supports a homeless shelter for families and I volunteer at the facility whenever possible. My participation has slowed down a bit, though, with the birth this year of our second son! I hope to re-engage with the shelter in the near future.”

His father, Richard Carignan, deeply influenced his entire perspective on life, education, and work. “A former educator and instructional leader in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, he taught me many effective learning techniques and—more important—demonstrated a true personal love of learning which I have sought to emulate in my life and career,” said Dean. “I’m indebted to him.”

Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate to profile in our Wednesday Inspiration? Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD communications liaison,

Dean Carignan Kenai Central High School s

Snapshot: Kenai Peninsula graduate inspirations #ClassOf2016

One school district: 43 diverse schools: Kenai Peninsula graduate inspirations

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District encompasses 25,600 miles, with 43 diverse schools including neighborhood schools, a K-12 school house, Russian Old Believer schools, a performance based school, four charter schools, Connections Homeschool, and four schools only accessible by boat or plane. Meet #ClassOf2016 graduate inspirations

Class of 2016



Three years ago, these young people were beginning their last few months of K-12 education in Kenai Peninsula schools.

These student graduate snapshots 
demonstrate Kenai Peninsula school success.
A full story is online for each graduate—click their name to read on.

Valedictorian, his academic achievements, including a 4.069 GPA, graduating with 32.5 credits, and scoring a 35 on his ACT, only begin to describe Jayce’s successes. In addition to his academic accomplishments, Jayce has a passion for music…


When she enrolled, she was behind on credits and questioning the role education would play in her life. Jenna’s transformation from reluctant learner to head of her class came with a lot of hard work and determination, but with the support of her family, she persevered…


Apart from earning straight A’s in the most rigorous classes Homer High School offers, including seven Advanced Placement (AP) classes, Nolan managed to build a résumé that looks more like a list of volunteer opportunities rather than anything anyone could have actually done, and done so well: Briggs and Stratton Master Service Technician, multiple state champion and team captain in both Drama Debate and Forensics (DDF) as well as in Skills USA, volunteer-extraordinaire for various local non-profits in the fields of marine biology, ornithology, and veterinary…


Melissa will be joining the United States Army on July 18, 2016, when she heads to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Following basic training, PFC Bower will then go to San Antonio, Texas, where she will begin her formal training and studies to become a nurse in the military…


A three sport athlete, Alli has held the position of captain and been recognized on various levels for her athletic ability and leadership strengths. Due to her personal experience with a sports accident that had her frequenting the dentist office throughout her junior and senior year of high school, Alli hopes to, “help others and give people confidence” while pursuing her goal of owning her dentistry practice…


Through the 13 years we’ve had these students in our school, we’ve seen these students work through personal and academic risk factors that some might say were insurmountable or impossible for any student to overcome. But, our nine overcame all the risk factors, grew in their academic performance and critical thinking, and have made achievable dreams for their future…


Valedictorian, Cade is a champion for his community, and takes pride in serving his community through mentoring youth in sports and recreational activities at the North Peninsula Recreation Center. The impacts are clear that the children mentored by Cade exemplify the highest levels of sportsmanship, teamwork, compassion for others. Cade’s credibility as an emotionally intelligent leader solidified through his years at Nikiski Middle-High by being chosen as the team captain on the football team that earned state berths to the championship game and was awarded academic state champions four straight years, being a member of the National Honor Society that led NMHS in service learning opportunities…


She graduates with a 4.0 GPA and 21 college credits through Kenai Peninsula College utilizing the KPB Jump Start program. Krista earned the UA Scholar Scholarship, the Alaska Performance Scholarship and was awarded the first year tuition waiver at Kenai Peninsula College (KPC). Her plans are to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice…


In her senior year, Kelsey volunteered in the Headstart classroom and would often report about how positive her experiences were in the classroom. Her natural caregiving instincts will serve her well as she goes on to pursue post-secondary education in veterinary science…


Haley participated in the United National Indian Tribal Youth Conference her sophomore year and was chosen to attend the Youth Leader Conference at the White House in the summer of 2015. She has been recognized as an honoree in the UNITY “25 under 25” program of young leaders. A member of the Nondalton tribe, she participates in local activities with the Kenaitze tribe…


Maddy set a goal early in her high school career to travel abroad and volunteer to work with animals. Her research landed her in Yungas, Bolivia, at La Senda Verde (which means The Green Path). Maddy secured a position for two and a half months. She saved the money from her summer job to buy her tickets, visa, and pay for her volunteer position…


Kayla, class valedictorian, said, “With my advanced degree, I can not only become a rare female engineer, but also a female leader, inspiring similar young women to challenge occupational stereotypes and enter the field of engineering to pursue their passion for math and science. This state has taught me that being a part of a community, whether it’s a large town or small village, not only requires participation, but also contribution and dedication.” …


Salutatorian, Aiden attended school at SBE from K-12th grade and exemplified what all students should strive to be. He worked hard in school, out of school, and on the basketball court. Aiden will be attending Clarke University, Dubuque, Iowa, where he received an academic and basketball scholarship, and will pursue a degree in Sports Physical Therapy. He has challenged himself by taking college classes, AP classes, and being very involved with community service…


Alexey, who will be attending Job Corps for Facilities Maintenance this fall, after commercial fishing this summer, demonstrated excellent initiative and follow through every step of the way, and is a prime example of the success and confidence that can be gained when young people invest themselves into the academic, career and technical education, and athletic opportunities available…

#AKlearns #KenaiLearns #results
The mission of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is to empower all learners to positively shape their futures.

Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate to profile in our Wednesday Inspiration? Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD communications liaison,

Kenai Peninsula student leadership in student government

Susan B English remotely contributing to the Student Advisory Board at the Borough-Wide Student Council Meeting.

Susan B English remotely contributing to the Student Advisory Board at the Borough-Wide Student Council Meeting.

More than 50 students from Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools gathered for the districtwide student government conference March 4, 2019, held at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska. Students arrived in Seward for this annual in-person conference from Homer, Kenai, River City, Nanwalek, Nikiski, Seward, Soldotna, and remotely via videoconferencing with Susan B. English students form Seldovia.

Congratulations to the students elected to district leadership positions in the 2019-2020 school year!

  • Board of Education Information Committee: Kaegan Koski River City Academy
  • Board of Education Student Representative to the School Board: Cameron Blackwell, Soldotna High School
  • Calendar Committee: Ethan Evans, Soldotna High School
  • Instructional Materials Review Committee: Olivia Ferguson Ninilchik School
  • Science Curriculum Committee: Jackie Moore, Soldotna High School
  • Social Studies Curriculum Committee: Lexi Pierren, Kenai Central High School
  • Wellness Advisory Committee: Alex Juliessen, Soldotna High School

Contact your Kenai Peninsula State Legislators

Six state legislators represent Kenai Peninsula Borough Schools

PDF Flyer to print: Kenai Peninsula legislators

2019 Kenai Peninsula Borough School District state legislators



Ramifications of Governor Dunleavy’s proposed FY20 Budget

Several community budget meetings took place in February, and the Board of Education met for two days this week to take a sobering look at what the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District would have to cut to begin to meet the Governor’s proposed FY20 reduction to state funding.
  • The Governor Michael J. Dunleavy 2019-2020 State Budget proposed drastic cuts to education funding
  • Alaska State Legislators could honor the FY20 education funding put into law in 2018 by the 30th Legislature, or put forth an alternative FY20 budget
  • KPBSD schools are funded by both the State of Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula Borough

One-page printable PDF flyer: Snapshot of $22.4 million in cuts to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District


2019_March KPBSD 22.4 million in proposed cuts


In addition to this list, $5 million further in cuts would be needed to meet the deficit the Governor’s proposed budget would create for the KPBSD.

State funding reductions link to how much the Borough can fund education for the school district, which results in an even further reduction to education funding to KPBSD.

Current bills before the legislature may also affect Borough revenue if passed, which would affect Borough revenue, and create an even larger deficit.

What can you do?

  • Contact your state legislator via phone, email, or attend a town hall meeting
  • Testify at a legislative hearing in a LIO office, make a phone call, or write a letter
  • Attend Borough Assembly meetings, talk to Assembly members about “local” Borough funding
  • Talk to your principal or school site council about the impact of education funding reductions to your school
  • Advocate for a realistic state fiscal plan, speak up and share your positive stories about education


PDF flyer: 2019 Kenai Peninsula Borough School District state legislators and respective schools in their districts

KPBSD Graduate Inspiration, Nianiella Dorvall, Nikolaevsk School #ClassOf2014

KPBSD Graduate Inspiration, Nianiella Dorvall, Nikolaevsk School, Class of 2014

I believe it is important for people to dream big and know that they can be successful. Share your dreams with your family, teachers, and peers. They will become your support system and can help you in times of self-doubt and fear. They can also help you find opportunities unique to your interests.”
–Nianiella Dorvall, Nikolaevsk School, Class of 2014


Nianiella Dorvall Nikolaevsk Class of 2014

She is young, determined, inspirational, and changing the world. Meet Nianiella Dorvall, a 2014 graduate from Nikolaevsk School, a small school located on the Kenai Peninsula in Nikolaevsk, Alaska.

In the not quite five years since her high school graduation, she has studied overseas in Ireland, shadowed doctors in Hungary, and traveled to Germany, Austria, and Ukraine. In 2016 she graduated with an associate’s degree in Biology from Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon, Washington, and in 2018 earned a global leadership certificate and bachelor’s degree in zoology at Washington State University. She is currently studying for her Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) on her path to becoming a doctor, and working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at the long-term care unit at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska.

Nianiella is in the right place in this time of her life, and says,

“It is my dream to become a doctor, work in Alaska, and volunteer overseas with Doctors Without Borders for a while. In order to become a doctor, I must undergo a lot of training but I believe I am at the right place at the right time. Each day that I arrive at work, I learn something new. I learn how to be a better, compassionate, empathetic individual capable of making someone who feels truly lost feel better. These skills will serve me well as a doctor. I think that doctors hold a position of trust and respect with the public. As such, many people seek out answers and comfort from what and how doctors say things. The skills of a CNA will expand my repertoire of knowledge about how to help individuals not only medically, but also mentally and emotionally. The elders I work with have taught me a lot of who I am as a person and who I want to be as a doctor. I know that there is still a lot that I can learn from them and my coworkers. So while I study to take the MCAT, I will continue to expand my appreciation for medicine and knowledge of interacting with residents at South Peninsula Hospital.”


In March 2019, Dorvall attended a Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meeting to assist with a school report from Nikolaevsk School. She spoke eloquently for seven minutes to the school board, and demonstrated no visible fear about public speaking. About overcoming obstacles, Dorvall explains, “Fear is one of the largest obstacles that I have faced and continue to face. For example, fear of public speaking or fear of traveling to an unknown country by yourself. I have learned it is okay to be afraid as long as you look fear in the face and do it anyway. I have found that is one of the best ways to learn and grow as an individual. To complete a task or go through a situation while you are afraid shows determination, courage, and the ability to overcome one’s own weakness.”

Junior High Basketball, 2009 (1)-2

Niella values play, fun, and exploration, saying, “I love to play sports when possible. When not possible, I love to read and research places I would like to visit someday. I even go as far as planning the trip from plane ride to hotels to hikes and to restaurants.”

School, 2011 basketball

Tips from the future Dr. Dorvall…

  • Take every opportunity presented to you and run with it. Life may be full with opportunities but they are wide and varied. Those presented to you while you are young will help you grow as an individual and will open up more opportunities in the future. However, the future will have other responsibilities that will make it difficult to accept these opportunities so take them now.
  • Do not be afraid to use your voice to respectfully advocate for something important to you. It may seem daunting to express your ideas and opinions, but if you do not, you may regret it later.
  • Travel whenever possible. The people and cultures you will meet in your travels will broaden your understanding of the world and will expand your love for people. There is much to learn from strangers even in a fleeting conversation.
  • Do not forget your roots. The culture in which you were raised is critical to your identity of self. It is within that culture and community where you developed morals, values, perspectives, beliefs, and traditions that make you who you are as an individual. Do not lose yourself to the greater society. Stay true to yourself and your roots.

In this season of her life, studying for MCATs, and working as a CNA, she says, “My favorite aspect of work is walking through the doors and seeing the residents faces light up with happiness. I know that I make a difference in their day. There are difficult days but knowing that I am helping an individual live out the remainder of their lives with dignity, respect, and care is worth every difficulty.”

Anatomy class, bison head, 2014

Anatomy class, bison head, 2014


Studying in Ireland, 2017

Studying in Ireland, 2017


Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate to profile in our Wednesday Inspiration? Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD communications liaison,

Funding K-12 Public Education | March 2019

In  March, you have several opportunities to become informed, and advocate for K-12 education funding. Events are happening at local schools, in communities, with the school district, the borough assembly, at town halls, and with hearings of bills in Juneau.

2019 March Budget opportunities for public

Monday, March 4, 2019

  • Board of Education Finance Committee meeting: 2:00 p.m., Redoubt conference room, school district offices
  • Monthly school board meeting: 6:00 p.m. Assembly Chambers

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

  • Board of Education worksession: FY20 Budget, 10:30 a.m., Soldotna Prep School Professional Development Room
  • Joint Board of Education and Borough Assembly worksession:  2:00 p.m., Borough Assembly Chambers
  • Borough Assembly meeting: 6:00 p.m., Borough Assembly Chambers
  • One minute public testimony to Senate State Affairs: 6:00 p.m.*

Thursday, March 7, 2019

  • One minute public testimony to Senate State Affairs: 6:00 p.m.*

Thursday, March 21, 2019

  • Board of Education Special Meeting: FY20 Budget: 6:00 p.m., Borough Assembly Chambers, public testimony invited

*Public opportunity to testify to the Senate State Affairs committee

  • Tuesday, March 5, 2019, starting at 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 7, 2019, starting at 6:00 PM
    about SB24 and SB23, both related to the PFD.

To balance the FY20 state budget, the Governor has proposed the State of Alaska cut $20.9 million in funding to Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools.

Public testimony limited to one minute:
1. In person: at the Capitol, 2nd Floor, Butrovich Room
2. Legislative Information Offices: Anchorage, Eagle River, Wasilla, Fairbanks, Kenai
3. Call in: you may call in starting at 5:30 PM to get in the “queue”
From Juneau: 586-9085
From Anchorage: 563-9085
From all other locations: 844-856-9085

more info., and link to listen online:


2019 How to contact your state legislator

2019_02_18_State Reductions and proposed FF cuts FY20

KPBSD Graduate Inspiration: Scott Davis, Kenai Central High School #ClassOf1977

KPBSD Inspiration, Scott Davis, Kenai Central High School Class of 1977

Currently the president and owner of Davis Block Company, Scott purchased part of the company he owns and runs in 1978, right out of high school. Davis says, “When I graduated from high school I was ready to make a living immediately, and I could not wait to start making money. My generation was mostly self-sufficient by the end of high school, and I was especially, as the youngest of five who came along as my parents turned 40 years old. I think my path was pre-determined by an opportunity given to me by my parents: my father was having health problems and selling two different companies he had originally started, one of them was the beginnings of Davis Block.”

Scott Davis KPBSD graduate profile

Davis was a student at Soldotna Elementary, Sterling Elementary, and Soldotna Junior High, but his experiences in the only central peninsula high school provided him a foundation. Davis explains,

“My time in the vocational building at KCHS gave me the skills and confidence to buy into a business at 17 years old. There are good paying jobs awaiting qualified workers in the trades. Welder, mechanics, roustabouts, equipment operators, truck drivers and the list goes on. There is a global shortage of skilled labor. I believe there is an incredible need to give our youth the opportunity to learn a trade if they choose not to further their education with college.”

Mr. Carlson, an auto-shop class instructor inspired the young Davis, who later asked Scott to be his assistant and help teach younger students, a standout experience that influenced his career path. Davis says, “In Mr. Carlson’s class, we could bring our car into class and learn as we fixed its problems. I was able to compete in a statewide trouble-shooting contest with what I learned from his class. Winning this placed me on a list that offered me multiple job offers while still in school. Another teacher I connected with was Mr. Alexander who taught drafting in the same building. He was tough on you if he thought you did not give it your best, but was kind with praise when you did.”

A seven-time Iron Dog champion, Davis has learned from many obstacles in his business and on the trail. He believes, “Most, if not all, obstacles are just a problem that needs to be solved and can be overcome with hard work and never giving up. The art of negotiation and compromise is important—I think owning your own business forces this on you. ‘The buck stops here’ gives you very little choice but to solve the problems.”

“Watching my company ‘hitting on all 8 cylinders’ so to speak,” is a favorite aspect of his work. He says, “When all the hard work, trials, tribulations, and RISK pay off and you can see the results of your vision it’s a win. I am proud to give responsibility to my staff and see them succeed without me. I am lucky to have family involved in my business. It is not always the easiest thing much of the time, but it is rewarding when I see my son running large portions of the company, or I am problem solving with my spouse. At this point in my career, my family is crucial to success.”


For many decades, his competitiveness took him to racing motorcycles, snow machines, and three and four wheelers. “I very much like individual sports … it is just you,” said Davis. “Your results are yours only. Now I love to spend time in the motor home, backcountry snow machine and side-by-side riding. Visiting with my kids and granddaughter Josie is a highlight. My company is very active in helping with multiple community events. I serve on several board of directors such as Wells Fargo (local and statewide seats) as well as being an executive board member of the Industry Alliance. I am the Associated General Contractors membership chair. And, I enjoy building race machines for my son!”

Scott Davis (4)-2

Scott Davis (1)-2

Words to live by…

“Nothing worthwhile will be easy for the most part! Start slow and build on your successes while shedding the losses and failures as just a learning experience! What I started doing in business doing 43 years ago does not really exist in this day and age. Keep looking for ways to diversify. EVOLVE!”


Davis Block web site:
Davis Block & Concrete on Facebook
Irondog: Who is Scott Davis? Video

Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate to profile in our Wednesday Inspiration? Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD communications liaison,


How to contact your state legislators

2019 How to contact your state legislator
Public opportunity to testify to the Senate State Affairs committee on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 and Thursday, March 7, 2019, starting at 6:00 PM, about SB24 and SB23, both related to the PFD.
To balance the FY20 state budget, the Governor has proposed the State of Alaska cut $20.9 million in funding to Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools.
Testify (one minute):
1. In person – at the Capitol, 2nd Floor, Butrovich Room
2. Legislative Information Offices: Anchorage, Eagle River, Wasilla, Fairbanks, Kenai
3. Call in: you may call in starting at 5:30 PM to get in the queue of callers
From Juneau: 586-9085
From Anchorage: 563-9085
From all other locations: 844-856-9085
more info., and link to listen online:
2019_02_18_State Reductions and proposed FF cuts FY20
 2019 March Budget opportunities