The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved a site for a new school building in Kachemak Selo, a small Russian Old Believer community at the head of Kachemak Bay, on Monday. The “blue sight” as it’s called is roughly a mile away from the current elementary school. In 2014, the School Site Selection Committee chose a different site, but a preliminary study found it was at-risk for landslides. The committee revised its decision, and community members approved the new site during a February meeting. Still, school board member Dan Castimore reminded others why the site was originally passed over.
“It was considerably more expensive to locate a school at this site due to utility costs and road access costs which is one of the reasons it wasn't selected,” he said. “I'm also not convinced this is the best financial decision for us, and I certainly don't want to get us in a situation where we've purchased a piece of property or decided on our site and then we can't afford to do it later.”
Utilities are not available at the site and a road would need to be built to provide easy access for the community. The land is also privately owned, and the borough would need to purchase it before moving forward.
Other school board members echoed Castimore’s concern that the new option may be too expensive, but there is no official estimate of how much it will cost. Board member Tim Navarre said despite the uncertainty, it’s worth moving forward.
“I too want more answers but this is how you get it is by finalizing a site and doing the due diligence on the site—what it’s going to cost you,” he said.
The borough intends to go to bond for the school, and multiple members were concerned about how the board’s decision could affect the possibility of it being put on the October ballot. School board member Zen Kelly said that he did not want the board to stand in the way of the school’s progress.
“You're going to get another choice as a citizen to say yea or nay to the bond that's going to come out to fund this and those numbers will be present at that time,” he said. “So I'm just hopeful that we can move this forward, and get it back in the borough’s hands.”
The board passed the measure six to three.