School Maintenance Issues Need Fixes and Funds

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly may redirect state bond funds to a specific issue within the school district.

The topic of how to fund maintenance projects came up last night at the borough assembly work session during discussion about the Main Elementary School walkway. Borough Manager Michael Powers said the structure is in disrepair – in part due to design flaws.

“You don’t put steel supporting concrete where you can’t ever maintain that steel because whether you use ice melters or not, ultimately water’s gonna get in there, and you can’t just easily pick up the concrete and repaint the steel and rub out the rust or weld in sections.”

He said the borough is looking for funding sources for that and will be seeking state approval to see if it can redirect existing funds that have been allocated for school improvement.

The assembly okay’d the borough to bring up that possibility with the state, and Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner asked for an update on current bond projects and buildings in need of repair.

“What I don’t want to have happen is that we have leftover bond money and every week there’s something else that comes forward and we’re being asked can we use the money for this, can we use the money for this without ever seeing the full picture of what is everything that’s broken and what is the total picture of what we have left?”

Another ongoing issue is who has the responsibility of repair for school facilities: the Kodiak Island Borough School District or the Kodiak Island Borough? During public comment, Betty McTavish came forward with one issue that neither body has so far resolved.

“I do substitute teach in pretty much all the rural schools and, in setting up the classroom this year, there are large windows on the sea side of Akhiok that have no wooden frames. The teachers have put in rags, paper, to try to keep the wind off the children and the rain from getting in the rooms.”

Later in the meeting, Powers said that is the school district’s responsibility to fix, and the borough will soon sit down for discussion with them.

“Documentation and agreements are thin – would be a polite way of putting it – and we have an agreement on what’s maintenance and what’s capital projects, but beyond that we do not have a really well designed system in place, and that is evolving to resolve that problem over the next couple of months.”

It’s something they’ll address at the joint work session between the assembly and the school board, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

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