Local News

Ketchikan school enrollment numbers up

So far, the Ketchikan School District has about 20 more students than projected, which could mean more money for the district.

In his regular report to the Ketchikan School Board, Superintendent Robert Boyle writes that the first round of counting looks promising, and most of the additional students are distributed in a way that shouldn’t require more teachers.

He said that, if the numbers hold, the 20 extra students could mean about $120,000 more income than budgeted.

“In addition to regular students, we have more intensive needs students,” he said. “Those students will increase the revenue for the school district by upwards of $290,000. So we’re looking at a $400,000 increase in revenue for the district.”

“Intensive” is a special education category. Districts receive more funding for those students because of the higher cost of providing services.

Boyle said the district does not yet know whether additional special education teachers are needed, and won’t until enrollment has been finalized.

Boyle noted that some of the district’s growth is at Revilla school, which also manages the online Fast Track program. Both are nontraditional educational programs.

“We are doing something that we think is very important, which is to offer multiple courses for students that halve alternative needs within the community,” he said. “This is how we’re reducing the truancy and dropout rates at the upper grades. We’ve made a big impact on reducing the number of dropouts.”

To address Revilla’s growth, the Ketchikan School Board on Wednesday will consider adding a new teaching position at that school.

If approved, the teacher would focus on English and social studies for secondary students, and would support online or homeschooled elementary students.

The position would cost the district about $80,000 a year, including benefits.

The district’s enrollment numbers are preliminary. The official student count takes place over 20 days in October. Boyle said that, traditionally, Ketchikan’s enrollment count remains steady or increases from the start of the year through October.

Paid for outside of the state funding formula is the district’s preschool program, which also has higher-than-expected enrollment. The School Board on Wednesday will consider authorizing about $100,000 more for paraprofessionals to help run those classes.

Also on Wednesday’s agenda is a motion submitted by School Board Member Sue Pickrell that would require Boyle to tell the board whether the district is complying with Title Seven (VII) Indian education grant fund regulations. His report would be due by Sept. 26.

In an earlier memo to Boyle, Pickrell listed numerous questions, including whether Native parents were consulted through public hearings and public comment opportunities before the district applied for the grant, as well as details about the program’s parent committee.

The School Board meeting starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. There will be two opportunities for public comment at the start and end of the meeting.

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