While the Kenai Peninsula School District has seen a sharp decline in student enrollment this year, the numbers would be even lower if not for strong growth in the district-run homeschool program.

Overall student enrollment, as of last month was just 8,277, that’s 349 fewer students than the district reported in 2022, and the second lowest number since 1991 when there were 9,493 students.

Historically, the Kenai District’s enrollment numbers have been in steady decline since hitting a high of 10,409 students in 1997. Since then, the student population has dropped, reaching a low of 8,085 in 2020. While the next two years saw moderate growth as some students returned to in-person learning, this year’s loss of 349 students is the largest drop in a single year, apart from the pandemic year of 2020.

The Kenai district’s Connections Homeschool Program, however, has helped offset some of the enrollment losses. District homeschooling grew from 1,083 in 2022 to 1,173 this year. While not as high as the Covid interrupted years of 2020 and 2021, the homeschooling numbers are considerably higher than pre-Covid 2018, when there were just 801 homeschoolers in the district program.

Connections is the only district-run homeschool program designed specifically for Kenai Peninsula families. In addition to learning at home, these students have access to classes at neighborhood schools and are able to participate in neighborhood school sports and other co-curricular activities.

Last week, the Peninsula Clarion reported that, the Kenai Borough Assembly joined the school district for a joint community meeting aimed at encouraging families to reenroll with the district. It is estimated that 1,440 homeschooled students living on the Kenai Peninsula now attend a homeschool program not associated with the district. Most of these kids are part of Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA), one of 35 homeschool options available to Alaska students.

Kenai School District enrollment numbers 1991-2023

— 8,277 in 2023

— 8,626 in 2022

— 8,495 in 2021

— 8,085 in 2020

— 8,881 in 2019

— 9,005 in 2018

— 9,027 in 2017

— 9,141 in 2016

— 9,132 in 2015

— 9,150 in 2014

— 9,077 in 2013

— 9,256 in 2012

— 9,222 in 2011

— 9,327 in 2010

— 9,368 in 2009

— 9,487 in 2008

— 9,486 in 2007

— 9,575 in 2006

— 9,612 in 2005

— 9,714 in 2004

— 9,645 in 2003

— 9,750 in 2002

— 9,971 in 2001

— 9,925 in 2000

— 10,158 in 1999

— 10,247 in 1998

— 10,409 in 1997

— 10,365 in 1996

— 10,270 in 1995

— 10,092 in 1994

— 9,846 in 1993

— 9,520 in 1992

— 9,493 in 1991

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Kenai schools see historic enrollment drop, even as district homeschool program grows

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • DaveMaxwell says:

    8000 still need to wake up!

  • Jon and Ruth Ewig says:

    Yep. Dave Maxwell is correct! You go, Parents!!! This needs to continue in Fairbanks too. Hopefully all of us will get to a place to pressure the Governor and the Legislature to implement School Choice so that we parents can decide how the education money is spent.

  • M says:

    That’s 8277 too many enrolled in the district. I’m praying for the parents of these families to see the light.

  • Jen says:

    2020 school closures was just as much as a wake up call to families as church closures were to congregation members what their school and church wasn’t doing. Some Parents realized how behind their child was attending Alaska’s public education, and how much more current homeschoolers were learning. Until public schools even private schools are hold their employees accountable, Homeschooling Be Best for every Alaskan child.
    I pulled my child out of a local private school because it could foresee it would had wasted my hard earned money and this private school wouldn’t challenge and get my child ahead using their curriculum and teaching structure. I am using Liberty University Online academy. So far I like it, it’s renewing my hope my child will continue being in track to do more when she is 25 than when I was 25. That’s what Alaskan parents must question will your child’s education model they are following going to make them at 18 ahead of the parent? 2020 made some parents around the state realize their child’s current public education was preparing their child for a life of mediocrity, co dependency, mental degeneration, and harmful lifestyles.

  • Plato’s Spawn says:

    We in Nikolaevsk have a lot to say if you are willing to listen. Please inquire.

  • Matthew myers says:

    I know this doesn’t really pertain to the subject at hand, but I have to publicly air my disappointment with the state troopers somewhere. They have been utterly worthless. Thieves have been cutting parts off of and stealing parts off of my boys’ cars for two weeks. We are now at four for four with the state troopers not even so much having responded or given a call back regarding, and up to and including an active theft that I was speeding towards caught on my cameras as I called 911. They will happily write speeding tickets or other revenue producing items, but they don’t care one tiny bit if thieves are stealing from you, making the community less safe, or making citizens less safe. They won’t even take a statement.

    • Matthew myers says:

      A trooper finally got back to me and took a statement, so I guess we can positively report this now as 1 for 3.

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Second amendment solution!