Board of Education OKs purchase of land for Kachemak Selo school

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board voted unanimously at Monday evening’s board meeting to approve the borough purchase agreement for property acquisition in Kachemak Selo, one of the small communities at the head of Kachemak Bay, for the purpose of a new K-12 school building.

At a facilities update meeting prior to the board meeting, Kevin Lyon, director of planning and operations for the KPBSD, told the board that the property site location on the corner of Kuzmin Avenue and Silo Street was appropriate.

“This is a build-able site; this is the right site for that school,” he said.

Lyon provided the Homer News with some additional details about the state of the current buildings.

Lyon said the existing school occupies three separate buildings that are leased and not owned by the borough. The “residential-type” buildings have been modified for school use and are in poor condition, including “a broad range of deficiencies that include non-compliant health and safety code conditions, maintenance issues, structural issues and poor energy efficiency.”

“Considering the low quality of the buildings and the extensive improvements needed, the cost to improve the buildings would be more than the value of the buildings even if the Borough did own them and was in a position to renovate,” he said in email communication.

The first building was constructed in 1982 and the second in 1996. The third building, constructed in 1991, was originally a home that was remodeled in 2005 to be used for the school.

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Lyon also noted the limitations of access to the village and school site.

“The only vehicular access to the village is down a steep switchback trail that is generally only drivable by all terrain quad vehicles, or by 4×4 trucks or SUVs equipped with V–Chains.”

According to previous Peninsula Clarion reporting, a new school in Kachemak Selo has been recognized as a need by the KPBSD and the borough for more than a decade. Community members first asked the borough to consider improving their school in 2012 via a petition signed by 40 residents of the village.

Students currently attend school in three residential buildings that are not owned by the borough or school district and are in such a state of disrepair that at least one of them has been shuttered, according to Clarion reporting.

The borough and state, however, are not in agreement with the best path forward for a new school. Although the state has provided grant money, $10.87 million, the deadline to spend it is June 30. It was already extended once in 2017 with no matching funds provided by the borough and no groundwork instigated on a new school. Lyon said the borough has submitted a request to extend fund deadlines to June 29, 2026.

Homer News

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