Only One Contested Seat In School Board Election

     Election season is only a few weeks away. There are several candidates running for Borough Assembly and various city councils. But there is only one contested seat for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District School Board. The body helps make decisions about how the district uses its roughly 149 million dollar budget in the 44 schools across the peninsula.

     There are three seats up for re-election, but only one with no incumbent and two challengers. That’s the District 1 seat, which is currently held by Sammy Crawford. The boundary lines for this district include portions of Soldotna between K-Beach Road and the Kenai Spur Highway. The two vying for the seat are Shawn Hutchings and Daniel Castimore. 

     In the candidate statement Castimore filed with the Borough Clerk, he said he wants to see more money directed to the classrooms. But he noted that it needs to be done is what he calls a “fiscally responsible” way. Castimore graduated from a KPBSD school, has parents who are both retired teachers from within the district and his wife spent time as a substitute teacher in several local schools.

     Castimore also is passionate about technology. He’s the IT manager for the City of Kenai. He’s helped develop and install classroom technology at the Kenai Peninsula College. And he has experience teaching as well as part of the college faculty. Castimore said his involvement with distance education could also bring a unique perspective to the district. 

     Shawn Hutchings is the General Manager at Hutchings Auto Group. He said that business experience will help the district with its budget, especially during lean times. Hutchings was born and raised on the Kenai Peninsula and says he’s a big believer in public education. His dealings with the school board increased recently as members discussed the reconfiguration of Soldotna schools. Hutchings’ daughter is a current student at Soldotna High School and another just graduated. 

     He said watching the student population decrease over the years and trying to do more with less is something he understands. Hutchings pointed out he’s had similar situations with downsizing at his own company during the recession. He mentioned he would like to bring what he calls his own “diverse perspective” to the board. 

     Lynn Hohl is the incumbent for District 6, which covers Seward and the eastern peninsula. She’s running unopposed. Sunni Hilts is the incumbent for District 9. That area covers the southern peninsula and there is no one running against her. All three seats are for three-year terms and elections will be held Oct. 1.