There are plenty of buildings around the Kodiak Island Borough School District that could use a little work.
The roof of Peterson Elementary, for instance, has needed to be replaced for years. It’s over 25 years old and leaks. Chiniak’s water treatment system needs an upgrade too. And there’s at least three other major projects that the district needs to do sometime in the near future.
Districts around Alaska submitted a list of maintenance projects to the Department of Education and Early Development for consideration in September. DEED came back with an initial scoring of all of them on Nov. 5, with higher scores meaning a better chance to get money.
None of Kodiak’s projects is in the top 50, making it unclear when any of this work will get done.
The state has traditionally funded many of the major projects school districts need. Superintendent Larry LeDoux said that one year the state doled out around $1 billion for this type of thing.
With oil at $40 a barrel and Alaska in a statewide recession, those days are over. There’s currently a moratorium on funding for new construction, but there is still some money available for maintenance. It’s just not very much.
“Unless someone shakes the money tree really hard, there isn’t much that’s going to get funded,” Gregg Hacker, the district’s facilities and operations director, said at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
Hacker said he suspected that while the state listed $200 million to $260 million in maintenance projects across Alaska, the actual number was far higher. Districts have given up submitting, since the application process is difficult and the chances of getting money are slim.
Kodiak submitted the same five projects it did last year. Besides the Peterson roof and the Chiniak water treatment plant, the other three big needs are electrical and security upgrades at East Elementary, paving and adding safety features to the parking lot at East Elementary, and replacing siding at North Star Elementary.
By focusing on those five projects, LeDoux said he hoped one or two might get funded at some point.
“We’re going to keep applying every year, just in case,” he said.