Ketchikan’s school board discussed a draft agreement with Ketchikan’s local tribal government to reduce the dropout rate among Alaska Native students. It would give tribal leaders a voice in the hiring process. School Board Member Diane Gubatayo said it’s an issue close to her heart.

“20 years ago, I ran — my first term on the board had to do with the native dropout rate,” Gubatayo said during Wednesday night’s meeting. “And unfortunately, it has improved, but not nearly enough. The historical trauma that some people reference is very real.”

School Board President Matt Eisenhower and Interim Superintendent Beth Lougee will discuss the draft agreement with Ketchikan Indian Community’s tribal council during its next meeting.

In other business, board members voted unanimously to transfer nearly $900,000 into its health insurance reserve fund to alleviate a shortfall. The district’s business manager, Katie Parrott, says that deficit came from unexpected healthcare costs this year.

“In the health insurance world, I’ve learned,” she said, “there’s good years and there’s bad years.”

Parrott says the district could afford to make the transfer since it underspent its yearly budget by more than $1 million.

The school board also unanimously adopted the recommendations of the school district’s health insurance task force. Those recommendations include sticking with the current insurance plan, but encouraging staff to use things like telemedicine and the district’s wellness program.