The Ketchikan School Board wrapped up its final meeting of 2015 last night. The Board approved a few big-ticket purchases and started planning for next year.

The Ketchikan School Board unanimously approved the purchase of a new snow plow, security system and software.

The approximately $40,000 snow plow will replace one in the current fleet of two. Superintendent Robert  Boyle says on snowy days, one plow starts at the south end of town, the other on the north end, and they work their way toward each other, plowing each school’s parking lot and surrounding areas.

“The one that they are replacing needs to be replaced, we think. The reason I say that is that is, it needs replacement, but if doesn’t snow all winter… but, we can’t rest on that. We need to be prepared.”

Transportation funds, which are provided by the state on a per-pupil basis, will pay for the new vehicle.

Funds for a new security system at Ketchikan High School will be provided by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, but the School Board approved a nearly $37,000 contract for the work with RSA Engineering. The contract includes installation of approximately 130 cameras along with a monitoring system.

The Board also approved purchasing administrative software for the Special Education Department. The new software called TIENET should help reduce the workload for the staff filing Individualized Education Programs or IEPs and Medicaid billing. Board President Michelle O’Brien says she received an email of support from Sally Stockhausen who works in the department.

“Another problem with, Filemaker, the current system is that files disappear. She doesn’t know how many times I’ve written a draft of an IEP only to have parts of the entire document be gone once I attempt to print it. Some IEP’s can take hours to write, so again wasted time. I’m excited about the possibility of a new program that will save me time. The less I have to spend with Filemaker frustrations the more time I have to spend with helping my students graduate, which is why I do what I do. “

The Board also approved the 2016-2017 academic calendar after some discussion about the start date and Thanksgiving vacation. School will begin August 24th next year and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will not be a holiday.

Director of Human Resources Rick Rafter says that the calendar committee is made up of administration from most schools, but all schools were invited to participate in the calendar construction.

“We’re really to the point where we talk about the calendar in terms of what’s good for learning, not just what’s good for my vacation. I understand what’s good for my vacation is important too. What we are trying to do is make sure there aren’t a lot of, if any two day weeks, three day weeks.”

The Board also did some planning for the next calendar year, including its scheduled work session with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly. The most contentious issue between the two bodies has been contracted services, which Board Member Dave Timmerman addressed as a citizen from the public podium at the start of the meeting.

“I just want you guys as a Board, just like me as a citizen to really pay attention to those numbers and ask yourselves if it is equitable or if it is even being done in the context of the spirit of the bond for what was given to construct the pool. I say no.”

The Gateway Aquatic Center is the largest contracted service that the Borough pays, but attributes the cost to the school district.  The Board largely disapproved of a new ordinance from the borough on how those funds are accounted.

Superintendent  Boyle suggested waiting for the outcome of the Borough’s education funding lawsuit first before making changes that may be moot.

The two bodies are scheduled to meet January 8th and 9th to discuss matters of mutual importance.

The next Ketchikan School Board meeting is January 13th, 2016.