Nanwalek School is getting some relief from overcrowding after a garage/shop area was converted into a new classroom over the summer.
Principal Nancy Kleine said the new classroom for sixth through 12th-graders has made students more comfortable and enthusiastic about learning.
“The kids just seem really happy to come to school this year. It’s almost like they have a place now. We have a pretty large middle school group, 26 kids and I believe there are 17 high school kids and that room is so much more appropriate for them. So they now have two large rooms, one downstairs and on upstairs for their classes,” Kleine said.
Kleine said the room is being used to teach middle and high school science and math.
The room is airy and bright with high ceilings and large windows. It also has a new smart board.
The school was built before statehood by the Bureau of Indian affairs in 1958. There’s been no expansion since an addition in 1977. But the population of Nanwalek has continued to grow. According to census data, Nanwalek’s population has nearly doubled since the state started keeping track in 1990.
Last year, the school was at 138 percent capacity. Until the Kenai Peninsula School District helped the school convert the garage/shop into a classroom, students were packed into a building that is supposed to hold 60.
Kleine said enrollment is up this year and that she expects continued growth.
“There is definitely a growth pattern going on. I’m not sure that in the next couple of years we are going to see an increase, but we are going to see a bump down the road,” said Kleine.
Kleine said she’s happy the District has found this temporary solution.
“I think this is a really good example of people pulling together all the way from the students and the staff and the District and the Borough all working together and the community, to support using what we do have. I’m actually really proud of everybody that’s been involved and very excited for the kids that they can relax this year and not be crammed in like they would have had we not opened up that space,” Kleine said.
Kleine said the school has 80 students this year.
At this time, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has no plans to expand the school.