During the past week I was repeatedly struck by information that confirmed that KPBSD is a district of choice. On Friday afternoon I attended the Connections parent training that included a panel of our homeschool parents and an audience of the same with remarkably well behaved children. The panel fielded questions from the moderator and the audience on strategies used to offer their children a successful homeschool experience. After about an hour of listening to the conversation I was convinced that these parents’ decision to keep their children home for school is well supported by our Connections staff. The misconception by some, that Connections parents are on their own, often straying from the core, was dispelled by what I heard. A second item occurred earlier in the week when our school board agreed to charge rent to our charter schools that use district facilities. This move brought new attention to our charters and further establishes these four schools as belonging to the district. The third and fourth items were learning that our distance delivery teachers located at Soldotna Prep are offering more than 800 units of class and that we now have 168 students taking courses from Kenai Peninsula College. When you step back and consider all this, and let’s not forget our alternative schools and River City Academy, it is clear that the district offers our families a lot more options than just attending the neighborhood school.
Twenty years ago, our neighborhood schools were the district’s only offering for our students. While these schools were and are our foundation, and will for the foreseeable future, educate the vast majority of our students, it is exciting to know that how and where we educate our children is changing. As we strive to find the right number of options to meet our students’ needs, let’s ensure that we are receptive to including the input of our stakeholders and our students’ prospective employers. The need to consider this input and then create opportunities for innovation as a way to counter the inertia of the greater institution of public education is critical. I am convinced that school choice when done well, promotes a district culture of innovation that will ultimately lead to a better learning opportunities for our students.