Local News

Debate continues over school district funding cut

The debate over potential cuts to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District’s budget continued Wednesday. Board Members pushed back against claims from the Borough Assembly that misinformation about the budget was spread to the community, and School Board members encouraged citizens to continue attending Assembly meetings to have their voices heard.

While formal discussion of the issue was not on Wednesday’s agenda, Board members spent a substantial portion of time expressing frustration with the Borough Assembly over potential cuts to the district’s budget.

Board President Ginny Clay noted that during a recent School Board/Borough Assembly Liaison Committee meeting, members of the Borough Assembly “chided” the Board for rallying members of the community to attend Assembly meetings and voice opposition to the cuts.

The public turned out in droves to the March 4 Assembly meeting, filling the chambers and taking up a significant portion of the time slated for public input. Assembly members protested the nature of the public commentary, saying there had been misinformation in the remarks.

On Wednesday, School Board Member David Timmerman pushed back against the Assembly, saying that issues pertaining to the School District deserved ample hearing in front of the Assembly.

“I just want this board to stick by their guns,” he said. “If you give information, make sure it’s the right information, and I think people are. We shouldn’t be chastised, we shouldn’t be chided, we shouldn’t be looked at as the drunken sailor by any Assembly members anymore.”

Board Member Colleen Scanlonagreed with Timmerman. She urged members of the community to continue their push against the Assembly.

“I am gonna say this publically – I encourage the public to continue to attend Borough Assembly meetings and continue to give the message that you support full funding for schools,” she said. “Our kids are our human capital, they are our future, and they deserve to be given the best education that we can give.”

Superintendent Robert Boyle addressed a potential method for using reserve funds held by the district to help plug the budget gap. He noted that due to frequent and unexpected expenses incurred by the School District, it was “bad management” to use those reserve funds to replace cuts from the borough.

Boyle estimated that the reserve funds held by the School Board stand at $900,000,, but it subject to change at any time. The expected cut to the School District budget from the borough is an estimated $600,000.

The School Board also voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve more than $94,000 to upgrade Ketchikan High School’s wireless Internet network.

Also on the agenda Wednesday was discussion surrounding state-mandated teacher evaluations. Due to changes made to that initial legislation, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District will incorporate student performance into those evaluations. In his report to the Board, Superintendent Boyle pledged that goals will be set to monitor student performance through standardized testing, the Response to Intervention program and special services support.  The performance component of teacher evaluations will begin in two years.

The next Ketchikan School Board meeting is March 27.

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