The Kodiak High School expansion and renovation project may yet include some discarded options -- but if it does, it will not be anytime soon.

In its Tuesday night work session, the Kodiak Island Borough assembly debated the merits of including some dropped project options using a $7.5 million grant from the 2011 Alaska Legislature for the vocational education portion of the project.

"At this point, it's the prerogative of the assembly; it would be legal for the assembly to exceed (the project's) $80 million (budget) by using that grant money," said borough engineering and facilities director Woody Koning.

On Monday night, the Kodiak school board recommended a music room and paving of a parking lot as two of 11 optional items that might be added to the high school project.

The assembly discussed using the legislative grant to add more options, but assemblyman Mel Stephens and assemblywoman Louise Stutes interjected, saying that the Legislature did not give the borough a grant just so the project's budget can go up.

"In obtaining those grants, it was clearly with the input from our representative that it would reduce the amount of dollars we bond for this community," Stutes said.

Stephens and assemblywoman Carol Austerman added concerns that the latest project budget may be concealing some costs. Both requested an analysis of the project's "district overhead" figure, an amount that indicates compensation for time borough staff spend on the project. That figure fell by $3.5 million in the latest budget update.

The borough assembly is expected to give a tentative go-ahead on the project at its March 28 work session, with formal approval coming at its April 4 meeting.

"Personally, I think the school board recommendation is a good place for us to start," borough Mayor Jerome Selby said. "To me, I think starting off, we're in pretty good position to go with the school board recommendation for now and just keep an eye on these things. Personally, I'd be surprised if we can't buy at least half of that list before we're done."

The borough assembly meets at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night for a regular meeting.

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at

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