The Ketchikan School Board on Wednesday will decide whether to approve a new teachers’ contract with the Ketchikan Education Association, and will interview three candidates for a vacant board seat.
The tentative three-year teacher contract, which KEA members have ratified, is retroactive to the 2011-2012 school year. It includes no raises the first year; a $1,100 raise for each level in the salary scale next year; and a $1,400 raise for each level the third year.
For the first year, the district’s health insurance contribution will be $9,806 annually per teacher. That will increase 15 percent the second year and 7 percent the third year. The district also will contribute a $50,000 lump sum to the health-insurance pool, with an additional $50,000 if this year’s budget has more than $415,000 in carry-over funds.
District Business Manager Matthew Groves gave some details about the costs of the tentative agreement.
“If you were to compare the tentative agreement of increasing every cell by $1,100 and increasing the health insurance cost versus 0-0, basically not increasing the value of each cell and not increasing the district’s contribution to the health insurance pool, then the tentative agreement will cost $445,000 more for FY13,” he said “And then for FY14, it will cost $812,000 more.”
Groves said the FY14 increase is cumulative, and the numbers don’t include the lump-sum health insurance contribution.
An executive session is on Wednesday’s agenda, in case the board wants to discuss the tentative agreement.
Three candidates have applied for the open School Board position, and the board will interview them before the regular meeting begins.
Two of the candidates have served previously on the School Board: Diane Gubatayao and Susan Pickrell. The third, Shona Hosley, ran as a write-in candidate for the board several years ago. The three are vying for a seat left vacant when John Harrington resigned effective May 23.
Pickrell said she decided to apply in part because the board had some trouble getting candidates to run for the School Board during the last regular election, and because she has grandchildren in the school system.
“There are some important things coming for the School Board and I have some particular interests,” she said. “Just in my observations of things that have been going on, I feel I can add to the participation of the School Board and maybe provide some direction.”
Pickrell said the district’s drop-out rate is a particular concern. She said she would like to explore the reasons, and help develop programs that encourage students to remain in school.
Pickrell said she served previously on the board in 1999 and 2002.
Hosley said she is a fan of the Ketchikan public school system. She said her daughter has been successful in the district, and she appreciates the choice that Ketchikan schools offer. Hosley said maintaining school funding is her primary concern.
“I’m not out to go into the board and say, ‘Oh I think this is how you need to make things better,’” she said. “I just want to be involved in the process of making sure the schools … can continue to make things better or at least stay the same. I’ve had too many friends that have left the district for various reasons and have brought their kids into different school systems and the one thing they all say is that they wish they could be back here. They miss the opportunities that our kids are afforded, they miss the quality of the education, the quality of the teachers, the diversity of the schools. I don’t want to go in and say, ‘Oh this is what you guys are doing wrong.’ I want to say, ‘You guys are doing things right,’ and I want to be part of that.”
Gubatayao wrote in her application to the board that she moved back to Ketchikan in January, and has been following school issues with interest. She wrote that she would bring experience and stability to the board until the October election, when the vacant seat will be on the ballot.
Gubatayao added that serving as an interim board member would help her decide whether to run for the seat. She wrote that school funding is a concern, and she would be interested in trying to improve the board’s relationship with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly, which appropriates local funds to the district.
Following the interviews, the board will vote whether to appoint one of the candidates to the vacant seat. The appointee will take the oath of office and be seated that evening.
Also on Wednesday, the board will consider hiring Robert Marshall as the new Ketchikan Charter School principal. Marshall now is principal of the Emmonak School in the Lower Yukon.
The board also will consider teaching contracts for Debbie Christensen to teach special education at Fawn Mountain Elementary School; and Tracie Sleeper to teach English as a second language at Ketchikan High School and Schoenbar Middle School.
The School Board meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Borough Assembly chambers at the White Cliff building. There is time for public comment at the start and end of the meeting.