Alaska school district has record staff loss for single year

HOMER, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska school district has lost 86 staff members and administrators so far this year because of resignation, redundancy or retirement, officials said.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District said the employee loss through June 13 is the highest in the years the district has tracked the data, The Homer News reported Thursday.

Of the 86 staff members departing, 24 of those have served the district for 15 years or more, while 16 have served 20 or more years, district communications liaison Pegge Erkeneff said.

An average of 72 teachers resigned or retired from the district annually for the last four years, Erkeneff said.

The school district based in Soldotna, 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Homer, oversees more than 40 schools throughout the southern Alaska peninsula.

Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposed deep cuts to education earlier this year, causing concern among school districts throughout the state, the newspaper reported.

“A disturbing development we noticed this year is a rise in the number of resignations from our staff, in part due to the fiscal uncertainty state budgeting caused to the school district this year,” Erkeneff said.

The Kenai district’s board of education approved contracts for 62 non-tenured teachers May 16, but nine non-tenured teachers could not be retained because of budget constraints.

“In contrast to anticipated retirements, several of our valued staff noted that the fiscal instability of our state and subsequently in our district is a reason why they are leaving now,” she said.

While the number of teacher resignations is high, Erkeneff said support staff retirements and resignations are lower this year.