LKSD reaches settlement for 2015 Kilbuck School Fire

Agreement paves way for completing design and beginning construction of a new school

An aerial shot of the Kilbuck School fire and billowing smoke taken via drone during the morning of Nov. 3, 2015. photo by George Estrela

by LKSD Staff

The Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) today, November 18, 2020 – announced that it has reached a settlement with its insurer, Alaska Public Entity Insurance (APEI), following the devastating fire that destroyed the Kilbuck School in Bethel in November 2015. The fire incinerated the Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Yup’ik immersion school, which was housed in the building, and severely damaged the adjacent Kuskokwim Learning Academy and dorms, displacing students for more than five years.

Since the fire, students from Ayaprun Elitnaurvik have studied at the Bethel Native Corporation’s Kipusvik building, and the Kuskokwim Learning Academy has been housed at Yuut Elitnaurviat, the regional nonprofit workforce development organization.

“The Kilbuck School fire was a tragedy for our district, our employees, and our students,” said Kimberly Hankins, LKSD Superintendent. “In the years since it occurred, our administration has worked hard to ensure that we have the resources to replace the school with a new facility that meets the needs of our community. This agreement will allow us to proceed with finalizing the plans for a new school and help our district heal and move forward.”

The design of the new school has been ongoing for the past two-plus years and is near completion. As the settlement is finalized, LKSD will be preparing a request for proposals to construct the new school with construction to begin in the summer of 2021.