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Two School Groundbreakings in a Single Day

Last two Mat-Su schools from 2011 $214 million bond


WASILLA, Alaska - At a groundbreaking ceremony for a new elementary school Tuesday, Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly Member Dan Mayfield shared his hard-knocks childhood and said without education he would have been lost.

“Education is so very powerful in our young people’s lives,” Mayfield said. “It gives me a great deal of pleasure to be here and to actually be a part of building a school.”

Dena’ina and Iditarod are the last two schools of six to be built by some of the funding from the unprecedented $214 million in school construction bonds approved by voters in 2011. The State is paying 70 percent of the cost.

No other school district has been growing like the Mat-Su Borough’s. In the past five years, the Mat-Su grew 6 percent in student enrollment, while Anchorage dropped 5 percent, Fairbanks dropped 1 percent, and Juneau fell 3 percent, according to State Economist Neal Fried.

The other schools built or underway include Mat-Su Day School and Valley Pathways, completed last fall; Joe Redington Sr., Jr./Sr. High, to be completed by August 2015, and a 33,000-square foot addition to the Career & Technical High School, to be completed by fall 2015.

Mat-Su School Board President Susan Pougher highlighted the local support for education. “(The school bonds) …our local people have voted for because they support education and they support the best for our students,” Pougher said.MooseyIditarodkidsPrincipallowres2

The reimbursement funding for future school bond projects ends for five years now after a bill sponsored by a Fairbanks representative passed in the Alaska Legislature. The bill becomes law 90 days after it was passed. It will not affect any bonding put in place before the first of the year.

Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey said we expect reimbursement for these 2011 school bonds. “The investment by the citizens is matched by 70 percent from the State, which is really important,” he said.

At the Iditarod groundbreaking, Assembly Member Steve Colligan expressed mixed emotions on leaving the old school where his peers and his kids had attended.

“As I think of all my friends who attended the original school that are my age and maybe just a little older, both my children went since kindergarten to Iditarod Elementary School. And while I’m saddened to see us move away from that school, I’m excited about the future and the opportunities.”

Other speakers included Rep. Lynn Gattis, Rep. Jim Colver, Wasilla Mayor Bert Cottle. Sen. Bill Stoltze attended. Students from Iditarod tossed dirt at the ceremonial shovel mound. The photo with kids has left to right: Manager John Moosey, Carol Coe, Selina Gutierrez, Adrian Jewett, Nic Takumjenak, Riley Coe, Jeremy Redmon, Iditarod Principal Scott Nelson


Iditarod Elementary, is a 55,000-square foot elementary school that will replace an old building. The use of the old school has not yet been determined. The new school project cost is $25,214,000. The State will pay 70 percent of the cost. The construction site is a quarter mile north of the existing school on Wasilla-Fishhook off the corner of Wasilla-Fishhook and Carpenter Circle. Architects are McCool Carlson Green and builders are Collins Construction.


Dena’ina Elementary is a 44,000-square foot school on the campus of the new Joe Redington Sr., Jr./Sr. High School. The site is off Knik Goose Bay Road at mile 10. This is a $26,529,000 project. The State will reimburse 70 percent of the cost. Architects are Bettisworth North Architects and builders are F-E Contracting.


Photos and video by Mat-Su Borough Public Affairs, Stefan Hinman and Patty Sullivan. Video production and music by Stefan Hinman.


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