The ongoing issue of how much the Ketchikan Gateway Borough charges the Ketchikan School District for “contracted services,” such as use of shared facilities, was a big part of Wednesday’s Ketchikan School Board meeting.
Contracted services have been a point of debate for several years, but that debate escalated recently when an ordinance came before the Borough Assembly that would officially define how the borough will account for those services.
That ordinance, 1777, was delayed at the request of School Board officials, and the issue will be hashed out during a Nov. 10 meeting of the School Board-Borough Assembly liaison committee.
One point of contention is how much the borough charges the school district for use of, for example, the Gateway Recreation Center pool. During board discussion of the topic, School Board Member David Timmerman said the district has been charged more than it should.
“And that money has gone toward supplementing community recreations,” he said. “There’s absolutely no doubt about it in my mind that we’re helping fund the pool so that they can let the community come in at $175 a pop, whereas our kids are being charged $200-some for just swim lessons.”
Board President Michelle O’Brien clarified that the borough claims that money as funds provided for local public education, but she says it’s not truly funds available to spend on students. She, too, stressed the need for a better accounting of how much use the shared facilities actually get by local students.
Superintendent Robert Boyle told the School Board that borough officials have adjusted Ordinance 1777 in response to some of the district’s concerns. One change would give the Borough Assembly the power to set certain fees in advance, rather than the borough manager’s office. Another change to the ordinance would give the school district the ability to dispute a charge.
Board Member Trevor Shaw said that’s not much of a concession.
“With the substitute, we do have the ability to dispute those contractual services, however, just because we dispute something doesn’t mean it’s going to change,” he said.
“History would tell you that,” said Board President O’Brien, who added that the substitute ordinance was a good effort, but needs more work.
“I can’t see this in code right now,” she said. “It’s not my vote, of course, but I’ll certainly be very vociferous about saying no way.”
Boyle told School Board members that he’ll bring information from their discussion of the topic to the Nov. 10 liaison committee meeting.
Also Wednesday, the School Board rejected a motion that would have allowed some students who haven’t achieved all graduation requirements to participate in graduation ceremonies. The vote was 2-5, with Board Members Misty Archibald and Matt Eisenhower voting yes.