The Ketchikan School Board Wednesday night gave approval to two last-minute elementary teacher hires. The teachers were needed at Houghtaling and Point Higgins because of last-minute increases in enrollment.

The School Board also talked about what increasing student numbers might mean for the future.

Ketchikan’s student enrollment has been steadily increasing the past few years. But that steady rise might jump because of big Ketchikan-area projects.

The state just signed the Alaska Class Ferry contract with Ketchikan’s Vigor shipyard. Ketchikan’s hospital is under construction and expanding. There are a couple Prince of Wales Island mining projects on the horizon. There are rumors of a Coast Guard base expansion.

School Board member Stephen Bradford says the board should talk about how the schools might deal with an influx of students. And he offered this suggestion:

“It would be prudent if we were to proactively plan for being able to offer vocational training in some of those areas that are going to be very much in demand in the next few years,” Bradford said. “Just making sure that we as a school district are doing everything we can to provide opportunities for students.”

The board decided to plan for a December work session to discuss how the district might adapt because of these new projects. Superintendent Boyle says he would talk to the shipyard and hospital about their hiring trends.

The School Board finalized its goals for the 2014-2015 school year. They focus on three areas. One, digital assessments and technology. Two, student safety. Three, class size.

Board Member Ralph Beardsworth proposed an amendment to the board’s safety-related goal: “Our School Board will review the findings of the Safe Havens report and prioritize actions needed, develop a timeline, and coordinate with available funding sources.”

The assessment from Safe Havens International took a comprehensive look at Ketchikan’s school safety. It found that Ketchikan has an “it won’t happen here” attitude. And it recommends many ways the district could improve safety.

The board members were divided on whether to specifically include the Safe Havens report in their safety goal. The amendment passed by just one vote. On October 15th, the Board will hold a work session to discuss the Safe Havens report.

The School Board approved a couple state grant-funded technology purchases for the Alaska Digital Academy, which is a new online learning initiative for Southeast based in Ketchikan. The purchases include 50 new laptops.

The board also approved an agreement with the borough giving the School Board control of the installation of a backup generator at Ketchikan High School. The generator would kick in during power outages and would make Kayhi a viable Emergency Operations Center in case of a crisis. It’s funded by a Homeland Security grant.

The next School Board meeting is October 8th.