Kenai mayor’s chief of staff begs school board to ‘open schools now’


In advance of Monday night’s Kenai school board meeting, the chief of staff to Kenai Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce says it’s time for the Kenai School District to let students back in the classrooms.

In an open letter to the district school board, James Baisden wrote, “It’s time you give parents the choice to have our children back in the classroom with their teachers. Your decisions to keep schools closed is having a much worse effect on our kids and family then the virus ever will. Opening the Kenai Peninsula Schools to all grades is the most essential and life saving thing the School Board can do now.”

Baisden said the school board is harming children by keeping them out of schools.

“If big box stores and government can still operate daily because they have been deemed essential, so can the school district,” James Baisden said.

If a parent feels it’s not safe for their child to be in school, they can have the choice of keeping their child at home, and can continue remote learning online, he argued.

“Please don’t say help is on the way or coming soon, and you’re waiting on a vaccine. A vaccine is not going to have much positive effect in the near future, because 50% of the population will refuse to take it, including your educators,” Baisden wrote.

“As a retired emergency responder, I have seen the family situations that a lot of our children live in daily. Loving, caring teachers is the most positive thing these kids have in their daily life, and they need teachers back in their life now!” Baisden said, adding that the metric the School Board is using is not working, “and we will never open up the District under this system.

“The vast majority of parents that I’m in contact with want their children back in school now. These parents believe the School District is having a more negative effect on their children than the virus,” he wrote. Baisden and his wife have three children in the Kenai Peninsula public schools.

How to watch the Kenai Peninsula Board of Education meeting online:

The Kenai Peninsula School Board is meeting tonight at 6 pm on livestream.

Zoom ID: 708 024 188

Telephone #: (877) 853-5257
Conference ID: 708 024 188
When prompted for an Attendee ID, press #.

In addition, the meeting will be broadcast live on the district website.


  1. Americans don’t “beg” school boards to do anything.
    A good start might be defunding the school board, returning school-tax money to taxpayers because school-board members failed and refused to provide service
    … then recalling school-board members from office.

  2. Unbelievable. I’m listening to this live stream of meeting right now. Parents are the ones making sense. For those so called teachers and those who call themselves educators (and any others who are genuinely curious about the connections between the flu pandemic of 1918 and this covid19 pandemic, should take this opportunity of isolation to read the book “The Invisible Rainbow” by Arthur Firstenberg.

    As a tax payer whose borough taxes help pay the, on average 6 figure salaries of our KPBSD teachers and principles, (more than $60MM/ANNUALLY)why don’t you all spend part of that approximately $1900/week on some super dooper Nazi gas mask to protect you from all our snot nose kids? Then you can write that mask off as a business expense on tax day. Maybe then you can actually teach; or, go find a new line of work while you have the opportunity.

    You’re obviously financially capable of obtaining a mask system that is going to protect you. To my knowledge, none of you have missed one pay check, plus you still got the same stimulus as the rest of us, so you can afford that heavy duty space suit to protect yourself from this so called virus.

    • It’s worth considering that a huge number of teachers actually WANT students to return to schools despite the risk it puts on them as educators. I believe a survey performed internally a month or two ago resulted in around half wanting to return to face-to-face learning. That portion has likely risen as remote/online learning has stretched on.

      It’s also worth considering than many of us “so-called” teachers have been working incredibly hard to provide students with the best that they can in these difficult times. I, for one, find myself working till 9 or 10 pm regularly and taking less than 10 or 15 total minutes away from my computer during normal working hours. I focus both on maintaining high rigor and expectations while still personalizing and finding what works best for each individual. I also put time and effort into teaching the whole child, not just academics. Your dismissive attitude is painful to see when I know all the sweat and tears myself and many of my colleagues have put in trying to adapt and help kids in the crappy situation. While I’m sure there are some bums giving us a bad name (like in may professions), it is not the majority.

      As to teacher salary, it is literally impossible for a teacher’s salary to surpass 6 figures in the Kenai school district. Point your ire at administration and district level staffing if you want, but most teachers on the Kenai are earning 50-70k salaries. When I’m cranking out multiple lengthy, high intensity days each week and working on the weekends, you’re trying to tell me I get paid too much? My buddies get paid twice as much to dink around in a control room and wax poetic while working their oil industry jobs. I work 3 times harder (they’ll admit) and actually provide a public (not corporate profit) service. Not to mention that if you have a large family on a teacher’s income you meet the poverty guideline for the state of Alaska.

      Are you talking about the $250s educators can tax deduct for school supplies they purchase? Yes, we’re writing off expenses like corporate fat cats /s

      Yes, we are INCREDIBLY privileged to be working during the pandemic. Not sure why that means we should get shit on by you for you opinions regarding the situation and “this so called virus”.

      Biggest thing of all… you do know teachers don’t actually get to MAKE the decisions that the school board or superintendent make, right? Or the mitigation plans administrators put in place at buildings, right? Understand who you’re pointing the finger at and why. Especially when some of those people have been busting their butts and pouring their hearts out to try to help the kids we love to serve.

  3. Whatever happened to people being responsible for their choices, or for parents being responsible for their children? Send all your kids to the public indoctrination center so they can be taught what to think! Daycare for the kids, we demand it and we demand someone else pay for it and give those kids three squares a day while we are at it!
    And James Baisden ran for statehouse as a conservative…

  4. The most intolerant and evil unions of the United States, teachers unions. Teachers good, their unions bad.

    • Teachers union isn’t behind this decision. At least half of teachers wanted kids back in school over a month ago (likely more now) based on internal surveying. But keep wacking at that straw man…

  5. Here’s the joke: our Elected Board of Education members are embarrassingly uneducated in the protocols of hiding an official meeting.
    Y’all, go take a college course on how to participate in, and facilitate, an actual public meeting. Notify everyone when they have 30 seconds left to speak so they won’t go over 45 seconds.

    My high school taught a class in high school in the 70’s and 80’s about how to conduct an official meeting, so I’m surprised you don’t already know the process. At any rate, it’s your obligation to learn business/public meeting protocol, before, during, or right after your election and at your own expense. Get on it.

    This meeting was a joke.

    And, by the way, here is how to solve the open or close school decision: take a vote of all the parents in each KPBSD school like Homer, Soldotna, Nikiski, etc. who have children and grandchildren in school by sending us all an email with a survey where we can only respond one time and we will tell you what we want you, our employees, to do for We, The People, (your tax dollar boss) and let’s go back to the novel idea of our Founding Fathers who said we will determine whether or not to close or open our schools, not those we elect to monitor the system on our behalf. You represent us, you do not have the right to think for us and for compliance against the will of the majority.

    Lesson over. Good evening.

    • Ordinarily, I world be very concerned for my typos, but after 5 and a half hours of hearing the residents plead to the school board to re-open schools, only to have only 2 of the members actually care about what the constituents actually had to say, I’ve no respect for the majority of them and I don’t care that they probably aren’t intetested enough to figure out what I really meant in the first place. In essence, screw them. Be glad your kids are not being brainwashed by the school and refuse to send your preK-6th grades to school unless ALL of our children can go. K-12. Teachers are milking us for their pay and Alaskans need to look into their wages. Defund teachers and their unions.

    • Mr Keller, the Chair did an exceptional job of running the meeting properly and fairly.
      It seems to be common practice in local meetings, out of consideration for those testifying, to defer to their right to testify by allowing them to use up the 3 minutes first, then asking them to wrap up their comments in 30 seconds. This meeting was conducted properly.

    • What are you talking about? I’m a teacher and I’ve been working my a— off all of these months. I and many colleagues are killing ourselves trying to still educate kids in this crappy situation.

      Many commenters here don’t seem to gather that teachers DOES NOT equal school board. And teachers don’t tell superintendents what to do. Neither does the union many here like to demonize.

  6. I like the part that a vaccine will not help because only 50% of the people will accept and use it! OK! Because we are too stupid to take a vaccine please respect our right to expose teachers and others to disease. Unbelievable!!!

  7. Don’t have children if you don’t want them around 24 /7! Why are people paying so much money for a babysitter!?

    • Babysitting? I can manage, entertain, and actually educate 20-30 kids at once in my classroom. Parents are home with 3-5 kids falling apart because teaching school to their own kids is too hard. Don’t diminish what good educators do.

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