Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Guest editorial — Keep home-school money at home

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is proud to offer a high-quality, flexible and successful home-school program for peninsula families wanting to direct their child’s education.

Home-school families can do something positive for themselves, their neighbors, the school district and the entire peninsula by taking advantage of what the KPBSD Connections program has to offer.

Connections provides fully accredited, researched-based curriculum materials, computer equipment and all the resources needed for parents to successfully educate their children. Individualized learning plans are crafted with the help of certified, experienced teachers, and parents have ample flexibility in determining the course of their child’s learning. Connections offers options for fine arts and physical education, as well as opportunities for parents to design educational field trips and other enrichment activities.

Perhaps the best benefit of Connections is its ties with KPBSD. Connections students can participate in school sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities, and can take up to two classes in public schools without any impact to the student’s educational allotment. The full support of the KPBSD special services department is available to Connections students, and the district maintains Connections offices with trained personnel in all major peninsula communities — Soldotna, Kenai, Seward and Homer. Connections students also have a graduation ceremony on the peninsula, instead of having to travel to Anchorage or Fairbanks.

KPBSD believes enrolling in the Connections program is a benefit to home-school families that in turn benefits the entire peninsula. State funding for education is largely based on enrollment numbers. Last school year there were approximately 600 Kenai Peninsula students enrolled in home-school programs administered by other school districts in the state, primarily Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA) from Galena City School District, and Raven Correspondence School from Yukon-Koyukuk School District.

Those 600 students represent a potential $3 million in additional annual revenue for a school district. In KPBSD, those funds would go a long way toward improving educational opportunities in our home-school program and throughout our entire school system.

In the 2008-09 school year, KPBSD is instituting programmatic staffing, a new system of allocating resources based on envisioning education as it should be, not education the best we can afford it to be.

Programmatic staffing calls for staffing based on a school’s curriculum needs, with PE/health, foreign language and arts to be offered as core classes in all high schools with an additional 15 percent staffing for advanced opportunities, like specialty vocational education classes.

In all middle schools, foreign language, music, creative and fine arts, and industrial arts will be offered. Elementary and middle schools will be served by interventionists – people who monitor students for educational challenges and make sure problems are addressed and overcome as early as possible. Counselors also will be increased at the middle and high school levels to help promote student well-being and prepare students for life after high school.

Programmatic staffing resulted in hiring 45 new teachers in the district this year. That means new families moving to the peninsula. These families will be shopping in local businesses, supporting community organizations and paying property and sales taxes, which support government services and education across the peninsula. Additional funding from higher enrollments would allow the district to fully implement all the facets of programmatic staffing, instead of stopping short of what this exciting program has the potential to offer.

Home-school parents, please investigate what Connections can help you do for your student. KPBSD believes its home-school program not only connects families with a good education, but it better connects them to their community, as well.

Connections is a quality home-school program; buy local and invest in your community. For more information about the Connections program, please call 714-8880, e-mail Principal Lee Young at, or visit the Web site,

Melody Douglas is the chief financial officer for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

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