Ketchikan’s school board delayed a vote on a proposed change to the district’s cell phone and personal electronics policy. Interim Superintendent Beth Lougee says some potential changes to the policy hadn’t been properly publicized before the meeting. Lougee said she’d bring the policy back at the next meeting. That’ll be next Wednesday.

The board also discussed the process for hiring a permanent superintendent. Board Member Leslie Becker said community members had reached out to her and said they’d like to see the board examine a number of candidates.

Becker praised Lougee for her performance in an interim capacity but told the board she wanted to see a level playing field in the superintendent search. Becker said she wanted to make sure there was no question that the board followed the proper procedure in seeking a permanent superintendent.

“I do believe that we have to protect the public trust, and there’s a process that needs to be embraced to protect that, so there is never a cloud, never a shadow and never a doubt,” Becker said.

Becker suggested the board could find candidates for permanent superintendent with the help of the Association of Alaska School Boards or a similar organization. The board voted down a proposal to contract with the association at its previous meeting.

Board Clerk-Treasurer Diane Gubatayo said the board had informally agreed not to make any decisions about the superintendent search — even about the recruiting process — before the October 1 local election. Three seats on the school board are on the ballot.

Lougee reported on the district’s scores on the PEAKS test, the statewide standardized test. She told the school board the district performed in the top 25 percent statewide. Lougee said the district outperformed all other like-size districts and even outperformed all but one of the state’s largest districts. Only Kenai scored higher. Overall, Lougee said the district had the 13th highest PEAKS scores in the state.

“We are within reaching distance of being in the top 10 performing districts in the state,” Lougee said.

Still, over half the students scored below proficient on the exam. Students across all grade levels scored higher in math than English.

“What we are discovering is some of our curriculum is not aligned, so we’re going back and we’re going to be doing that work,” Lougee said.

Lougee said the current English curriculum didn’t adequately address some areas, especially phonics and spelling. To address that, Lougee said the district is trying out a new approach in some elementary classes. She said those pilot programs would inform next year’s English curriculum review.

Lougee also said a 3-year-old change in the math curriculum is starting to bear fruit. She said math scores have improved in students that began with the new math program, enVisionmath.
The board gave final approval to a new policy that tightens the rules on school-related travel. It also approved the sale of some older maintenance equipment.