Coffee & Conversation in Homer

You have questions & thoughts about K-12 education on the Kenai, so Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Superintendent John O’Brien and communications director Pegge Erkeneff invite you to join us on Friday, February 21, 2020, for an informal, responsive conversation!

Who? parents, site councils, KPBSD key communicators, business and community partners, you!

No RSVP necessary, everyone is welcome.

Meet at KBay Caffe & Roasting Co. (378 E Pioneer Ave, Homer, AK 99603) at 10:30 AM, order yourself a tea or coffee and pull up a chair. Your thoughts about K-12 education and schools matter, and we care. Bring your questions and ideas for a helpful, insightful conversation. We look forward to connecting.

Coffee & Conversations are happening in Homer, Kenai, Nikiski, Seward, and Soldotna this spring

10:30-11:30 AM

  • 1-31-20, Soldotna, Odie’s: 10:30–11:30
  • 2-21-20, Homer, K-Bay Caffé, 10:30-11:30
  • 3-6-20, Seward, Resurrect Art Coffee House, 10:30-11:30
  • 3-19-20, Nikiski, The Compass Coffeehouse, 10:30-11:30
  • 3-20-20, Kenai, Veronica’s, 10:30-11:30

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Two Hour Delay start in Eastern Peninsula

►ALERT: KPBSD schools in the Eastern Kenai Peninsula* will open with a TWO HOUR DELAY START on THURSDAY, February 20, 2020, due to weather and road conditions.

If weather and road conditions warrant a full closure for any schools, that announcement will be made about 7:00 AM. If you don’t hear anything, the two-hour delay start remains in effect.

Parents and guardians, if you decide, based on conditions near you to keep your child at home, absences will be excused.

*A two hour delay means that morning buses run two hours later than normal, school begins two hours later than normal, staff arrives at school two hours later than normal, and both morning and afternoon Pre-K sessions are cancelled. The school day ends at the normal time.

*Eastern Peninsula Schools
Hope School
Moose Pass School
Seward Elementary
Seward High School
Seward Middle School

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KPBSD February Community Budget Forums

Public involvement in the school district budget counts. District administration will meet with site councils and everyone interested in K-12 education to present the nearly $145 million preliminary budget for the school year beginning in August.

February Community Budget Forums begin at 6:00 PM
Site-Councils, together with everyone who is interested—parents, staff, students, business partners, community members, and elected officials—are invited to participate.

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Homer High School library
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020, Kenai Central High School library
  • Thursday, February 20, 2020*, Soldotna High School library, plus remote broadcast to Nanwalek, Nikiski Middle-High, and Tebughna schools
  • Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Seward High School library

*Additional school locations receiving the remote broadcast on Thursday, February 20, 6:00 PM will be updated at

“At the community budget forums, we will review the 2020-2021 (FY21) preliminary budget. Staff, parents, students and community members will have an opportunity to learn about our budget, provide input, and ask questions.”

–Liz Hayes, Director of Finance, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Planning for the 2020-2021 school year, KPBSD projects a budget deficit of $2,255,900. The FY21 projected expenditure budget is $144,776,830. On March 2, 2020, the recommended budget for the 2020-2021 school year will be on the KPBSD Board of Education agenda.

FY15 – FY20 Budget Reductions History 

KPBSD Finance Department


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1-30-20: Two-hour delay start for Southern and Eastern Peninsula KPBSD schools

►UPDATE, 5:15 AM: Eastern Peninsula Schools (Hope School to Seward area) will also open with a TWO-HOUR DELAY START on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

ALERT: KPBSD schools in the Southern Peninsula* will open with a TWO HOUR DELAY START on THURSDAY, January 30, 2020, due to weather and road conditions.

If weather and road conditions warrant a full closure for any schools, that announcement will be made about 7:00 AM. If you don’t hear anything, the two-hour delay start remains in effect.
All Pre-K sessions—both morning and afternoon–at these schools are cancelled during a two-hour delay start.

Parents and guardians, if you decide, based on conditions near you to keep your child at home, absences will be excused.

*A two hour delay means that morning buses run two hours later than normal, school begins two hours later than normal, staff arrives at school two hours later than normal, and Pre-K sessions are cancelled. The school day ends at the normal time.

Southern Peninsula Schools:

  • Chapman School
  • Connections Homeschool (Homer)
  • Fireweed Academy
  • Homer Flex School
  • Homer High School
  • Homer Middle School
  • Kachemak Selo School
  • McNeil Canyon Elementary School
  • Nanwalek School
  • Nikolaevsk School
  • Ninilchik School
  • Paul Banks Elementary School
  • Port Graham School
  • Razdolna School
  • Susan B. English School
  • Voznesenka School
  • West Homer Elementary School

**Eastern Peninsula Schools
Cooper Landing School
Hope School
Moose Pass School
Seward Elementary
Seward High School
Seward Middle School

Central Peninsula Schools:
Schools in this area (Kasilof, Kenai, Nikiski, Soldotna, Sterling, Tebughna) will be opening on a normal schedule.

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2020 Communications

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FY21 Education Funding and Budget Timeline

This budget timeline calendar combines important dates for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education, the Borough Assembly, and State of Alaska legislature and Office of the Governor.

It will be updated when additional dates are available. Current version: 1.10.20

PDF version: Education Funding Calendar for FY21 (2020-2021) school year

Free Developmental Screenings in Soldotna and Seward

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Child Find Program together with The Frontier Community Services Infant Learning Program (central Kenai Peninsula) and SeaView Community Services (Seward) are offering FREE developmental screenings for Newborn infants to age five (not yet in kindergarten). Vision and hearing screenings will also be available.

Central Peninsula | Wednesday, January 22, 2020
9:00 – 4:00 PM by appointment*
43335 K-Beach Road, Suite 36, Soldotna
*Call 907-363-6331 to learn more & schedule your free appointment

Seward | Friday, February 7, 2020
10:00 – 4:00 PM by appointment*
Seward Community Library, 239 6th Avenue, Seward
*Call 907-224-5257 to learn more & schedule your free appointment

Tustumena Elementary is Recognized as a 2019 National ESEA Distinguished School

Join the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to celebrate Tustumena Elementary educators, students, and families! One hundred schools nationwide earned recognition as a National ESEA Distinguished School in 2019, and Tustumena Elementary School is recognized in the category of exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years!

In the small coastal area of Kasilof, Alaska, Principal Doug Hayman often refers to Tustumena Elementary School as Camelot. With a population of 549 (2010), a post office, mercantile, gas station, church, and school tucked along the aquamarine Kasilof River flowing to Cook Inlet, the staff and 145 students and their families make the school the place to gather, connect, and learn.

“Relationships between the teachers and the parents at Tustumena Elementary is strong, and by working together to promote this strong bond, we have developed an atmosphere that leads to success. Tustumena has always provided the best education possible. In order to do this, we have worked to keep class sizes down, meet the needs of all students, and draw the best teachers available. The test scores in recent years have shown that all of these factors and more have helped Tustumena become an extremely successful school. Data driven decision-making has been an important part of our overall school planning. Regular Benchmark testing fuels our Intervention process. Beginning with the first I-Team Day and ending with the last day of school, the Intervention and Special Education programs are key to assuring that all students are getting their individual instructional needs met.”

Principal Doug Hayman

Tustumena Elementary School and Evergreen Elementary School in the Wrangell School District were the two Alaska schools named National ESEA Distinguished Schools by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

“It is an honor to recognize these two outstanding schools in our state. Both Tustumena Elementary and Evergreen Elementary have demonstrated effective strategies to ensure student success. I am proud to congratulate the educators, students, and families of these communities on the recognition of their hard work and dedication to Alaska’s students.”  

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) Commissioner Johnson

Alaska identifies eligible schools for the award based on their students’ performance on the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS) assessment in English language arts (ELA) and Mathematics. Identified schools chose to apply for the honor, providing evidence of effectiveness in evidence-based instructional strategies; providing opportunities for all children to achieve; coordination of Title I with other programs; professional development of staff; and partnerships with parents, families, and communities.

“The faculty at Tustumena has long been recognized in the community for the steadfast dedication to students and their families. It is exciting to see them being recognized at the state and national level for the academic outcomes resulting from that dedication. To be recognized as having high student performance for two or more years is especially impressive because the PEAKS assessment has undergone some changes. While other schools in the state have grappled with declining student performance due to the academically challenging standards we have here in Alaska, it is worthy of celebrating that students in the KPBSD, and at Tustumena Elementary, especially, are doing so well as they advance toward the opportunities their futures will hold!”

Dr. Christine Ermold, KPBSD Director of Federal Programs and Professional Development

photos: Tustumena Elementary, December 2019, Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD

About ESEA Distinguished Schools Program
The National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools Program is a project of the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators that publicly recognizes schools for their positive educational services. It highlights the efforts of schools across the country making significant improvements for their students. Because only two schools per state can be selected as a National ESEA Distinguished School each year, this award is an especially prestigious honor for the schools, staff, and students.

In the KPBSD, Tustumena Elementary joins Nikolaevsk School which was recognized in 2015.


KPBSD inspiration: Anna Devolld

KPBSD Inspiration: Anna DeVolld, Connections Homeschool Class of 2023

She’s 14, won’t graduate until 2023, and is buzzingly changing our world, one word, image, and seed at a time.

Meet Anna, a homeschool student, with an online teacher who inspires her to be a citizen scientist…

“My KPBSD Distance Education science teacher, Ms. Leslie, inspires me to set high goals and work diligently to reach them. She always encourages me to be a “citizen scientist” and to make a difference in our community by following my dreams. She has an amazingly kind and funny personality, and as my role model, she has shown me that curiosity and resiliency are important! Not only does she support my academic life, but she also cares about who I am and what I’m interested in. Because of the way she touches my life (even though we’ve only met in person a few times), I’m planning to go into the same profession: online education. I want to change students’ lives the way she has changed mine.”

Caring for the Kenai competition with educator Kim Leslie

Faced with Choices…

Recently, pollinators have been declared the most important creatures on earth by the Earthwatch Institute, and yet their numbers are declining at an alarming rate. In the U.S. alone, their numbers drop by 30% every year!

Last year, I decided to do something about this worldwide problem and I created a program to benefit pollinators here in Alaska: P.O.P. – Promote Our Pollinators! P.O.P. began as a Caring for the Kenai project and is designed to educate our community about the importance of pollinators and why their numbers are declining, while providing ways to promote their population growth and inspiring the next generation to be good stewards of our natural resources. I created a flier, activity book, Facebook page, Twitter account, and website to educate and inspire our community to take action for pollinators. I have designed promotional items like reusable tote bags, stickers, and buttons and distributed them at many community events like Industry Appreciation Day. I have given numerous presentations in schools, Rotary Clubs, and at the Soldotna Senior Center.

“When you are 14, it can sometimes be difficult and overwhelming to start a project like this, but I have the support of many individuals, organizations, and agencies who encourage me to pursue my passion for pollinators.” –Anna Devolld

Would you like a portable, pollinator garden?

“I created Pollinator Packs to address pollinator habitat loss. Pollinator Packs are six-pack pots that contain six different pollinator-friendly seedlings: the start of a pretty, portable, pollinator garden for anyone! My prototype year in 2019 ensured the plants would thrive and attract our indigenous pollinators. Next summer, I will be planting and freely distributing hundreds of Pollinator Packs, providing the easy to locate food source that pollinators need at frequent intervals in urban areas. The supplies needed to grow these packs and produce the promotional items are funded by grants from the Awesome Foundation, the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, ENSTAR, and by donations from local businesses. The City of Soldotna and Soldotna Parks and Recreation have partnered with me to install permanent pollinator garden signs in five locations this spring.

Education and State Government

I am scheduling more presentations for this spring and creating an online P.O.P. class for 3rd through 6th graders. In addition, I am also requesting that the Alaska DOT implement section 1415 of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, a law that encourages state governments to use best practices to support pollinator health along roadside rights of way.

“I’m a gardener, and I really like planting seeds, so here’s one for you to grow: find something that you’re passionate about, no matter how small, and see how you can use it to change our world.” –Anna Devolld

Fun counts too!

While I love dancing and playing my piano, many of my favorite activities take place outside. I always look forward to skiing at Alyeska. My dad taught me how to ski when I was two, and now I can almost beat him down the slopes! I also really enjoy camping in the summer: sitting around the fire, roasting marshmallows, and listening to the sounds of the lake. In addition to admiring the scenery, we get to meet quite a bit of wildlife. One year, a brown bear came sauntering through our campsite! We watched him investigate a little bit, but when he took special interest in our tent, Mom decided it was time to get a trailer!

Expanding horizons with travel

I love to travel! Every year, my family visits a different part of the United States to see famous landmarks and historical sites. We have been all across the country: from New York to California and Minnesota to Texas. Last summer, we drove along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana; it was amazing how much the climate and culture changed as we traveled. I enjoyed all the amazing architecture and delicious food (Cajun food? Yes, please!).

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” Colossians 3:23a is Miss Devolld’s favorite motivational phrase, and it is abundantly clear that it is a guiding principle leading her vision and destiny. What grabs your heart of care in our world? What supports do you need, and what can your first step be to begin?

Want to learn more about pollinators? Connect online:


photos: 2015 State of Alaska winning essay for the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Essay Contest; Industry Appreciation Days booth for POP – Promote Our Pollinators; VFW Voice of Democracy Award Ceremony; Caring for the Kenai awards with educator Kim Leslie

KPBSD celebrates Anna Devolld who is proof positive of the KPBSD mission to empower all learners to positively shape their futures.

Do you have a story tip about a KPBSD graduate, current student, or staff member to profile in our weekly inspiration highlight?
Kindly email Pegge Erkeneff, KPBSD director of communications, community, and government relations:

Holiday cheer for KPBSD students in transition

The outpouring of holiday support for our students experiencing homelessness is incredible!

“Many of these projects have been taking place for multiple years, and we are so grateful for the relationships we’ve created and the effort and energy that goes into them each year. We thank these groups and all the individuals who contributed for being part of the community of care. It is beautiful!” –Kelly King, KPBSD Students in Transition Homeless Liaison

  • Kenai Central High School Spaghetti Feed and Auction – local businesses donated to the silent auction, more than 100 locals feasted, and nearly $6,000 was raised that will go directly to the Students in Transition program to assist our students experiencing homelessness, and their needs.
  • 5 Star Realty and AK Express hosted a free Thanksgiving dinner for our families, and then the greater community
  • Peninsula Community Health Services – gifts for students
  • Kenai Peninsula Association of Realtors – duffle bags with gifts for 28 homeless and at-risk youth
  • Cabin Fever Creations – assortment of hygiene products, socks, blankets and stocking stuffers
  • Peninsula Job Center and Public Assistance employees – $600 worth of food cards for SIT Youth
  • Kaladi Brothers Coffee Co. “Dale Tran’s New Years Day Giving” – 100% of all local KBC beverage sales on New Year’s Day will go to the Students in Transition Program
  • Kenai Peninsula Borough employees and union members – lots of food for three of our SIT families and 1 unaccompanied youth
  • Kelsi’s Closet – store special this month – with the purchase of a CC hat, Kelsi’s Closet donated one to a local school, and 65 hats were donated!

For more information on the SIT Program or to see if you qualify, contact your local liaison. Homeless Liaisons can help students and families access supports and services to address these challenges.* (see contacts below)

As of December 13, 2019, the Students in Transition program is serving 119 youth, and 36 are unaccompanied. By the end of the school year, we will likely average about 250 youth who are experiencing homelessness, and staying in school with supports from the SIT program. If you or someone you know is a family with K-12 age children, or an unaccompanied youth without stable housing at night, and open to assistance, please reach out to one of our homeless liaisons.*

Who are Homeless Children and Youth?
Eligible children and youth are students who lack a permanent, stable, and adequate place to sleep at night. This can include students who are living in a shelter, hotel, tent, camper or car, students that are “doubled-up” with extended family members of friends because of financial difficulty, or loss of housing, students who are couch-surfing, and those in “substandard” housing. Students may be part of a larger family unit that is homeless, or may be unaccompanied youth (youth living in a previously stated situation with without a parent or legal guardian).

What can the Students in Transition Program provide?
• Immediate School Enrollment
• Free school meal benefits
• Transportation to and from school
• School Supplies
• Assistance in obtaining vital records
• Referrals to local social service agencies and public programs

Students who don’t have stable housing face special challenges when it comes to school success. It is hard to learn if you are worried about your next meal, about staying warm at night, or about where you’ll be sleeping next. Students who frequently change schools or are frequently absent lose out on valuable learning time and often fall behind their peers.

In the 2018-2019 school year, 224 KPBSD students were identified as homeless, using the federally required McKinney-Vento Act definition. These students ranged from Pre-K through the 12th grade, and received support services through our Students in Transition Program and homeless liaison staff.

*Homeless Liaison Contacts:
Kelly King
Homeless Liaison – Serving Central Peninsula, Seward and Tyonek schools
e: or call 907-714-8869
Jane Dunn
Homeless Liaison – Serving Southern Peninsula and Ninilchik schools
e: or call 907-235-4664