Local News

District appeals Department of Education rulings

The Ketchikan School District is appealing a couple of decisions by the state Department of Education that, if the appeals are denied, could cut into the district’s finances.

Earlier this summer, the state rejected funding requests for two intensive-needs special education students, claiming that the IEPs – individual education plans – did not qualify.

The district has appealed. Superintendent Robert Boyle gave an update on that during last night’s Ketchikan School Board meeting.

“There are two different IEPs. One of them, we’ve introduced evidence of identical IEPs in terms of structure were introduced previous years and been approved, (with) no changes in regulations, yet this one has been rejected,” he said. “We can’t figure out why.”

The district has an Aug. 20th meeting scheduled with Department of Education officials regarding that appeal.

Also on appeal is the state’s rejection of a proposal to reorganize Revilla Alternative School into a K-12 blended program, which would have increased the student count for that school. If Revilla could show it has a certain number of students, it would count as a separate school under the state funding formula, which means it would receive significantly more money per-student.

As it is, Revilla students are counted for funding purposes as part of Ketchikan High School.

In an interview with KRBD Thursday morning, School Board Member Michelle O’Brien provided some details on the issue.

“Under DEED regulations, an alternative school serves certain grade levels and a certain type of student in a face-to-face situation,” she said. “That’s why that was not approved. The idea for the school district was to combine our Fast-Track program, which is a virtual learning opportunity … to blend those models together to create one school that would serve students K through 12. Therein lies the rub: the face time.”

The district has not yet received a response from the state regarding that appeal.

Also Wednesday, Board President Ginny Clay announced that she will not seek re-election.

“As of right now, I will not be filing to be on the School Board again,” she said. “There are some other things that are about to happen in my life, so I’m going to be moving on.”

Clay and Board Member Dave Timmerman are completing their terms this year. Timmerman gave a somewhat enigmatic hint of his plans.

“There’s a 90 percent chance that I’ll file, but there’s only a 42 percent chance of that,” he said.

The filing period for the School Board, as well as the Borough Assembly, and the Ketchikan and Saxman city councils, is open through Aug. 25.

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