Local News

School Board reorganizes after election

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board underwent a number of changes Wednesday in the wake of last week’s elections.

Board Member Michelle O’Brien was elected School Board President after Board Member David Timmerman urged his colleagues not to vote for him.

O’Brien and Timmerman were the only two board members to be nominated for the top spot. Timmerman, who was recently elected to a second full term on the Board, asked that he not be president this year. He noted that the position might restrict his intention to be honest about his opinions.

“Although I appreciate the nomination,” he says, “I’d rather not be president this year. My own personal reason would be that I feel like it muzzles me from having the fight I want to have.”

Timmerman is a regular critic of the Borough Assembly. He has repeatedly faulted the borough for not funding schools adequately.

After O’Brien was elected as president, the board nominated and voted on other officers. David Timmerman was elected as vice president of the School Board, with Misty Archibald as treasurer.

The night was full of changes to the Board.

High school senior Trevor Shaw swore an oath of office last night after being elected earlier this month. The 18-year old has said that he hopes to improve local elected bodies’ engagement with young people; he lived up to that sentiment during the meeting.  At the meeting, Shaw asked that the student board member vote first on future matters; as the student vote does not technically count and is meant to be advisory, Shaw says, it makes sense that it be held first as to actually advise the rest of the board.

The new board member also broached a topic that was not on the board agenda.

“The reason I have offered this motion is, honestly, Senate Bill 90 is an absolute disaster,” Shaw says.

An ambitious Shaw sought to address a potential law that would centralize healthcare coverage for school employees across Alaska. Senate Bill 90, which is still in committee, would require all districts in the state to participate in an insurance policy selected by the Department of Administration.

Shaw, in bringing to the table a proposition that the Board oppose Senate Bill 90, was operating outside normal protocol. Though his idea gained some traction with others on the Board, Board Member Stephen Bradford urged caution.

“I would prefer that we step back and get additional information,” Bradford says. “But I would urge against taking action tonight unless there is some urgency that the sky will fall if we don’t.”

Shaw says that as the bill might be advanced at any time, it is important to move quickly. The Board agreed to discuss the matter further before taking action.

The Board also voted to approve a purchase of a new vehicle for the maintenance department.  It also voted to approve a number of new computers for the district. Before that vote, Board Member Stephen Bradford urged the body to keep an eye on the district’s aging technology.

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