Ketchikan’s interim superintendent may get a two-year contract for the district’s top job during Wednesday’s school board meeting. The very full agenda for the meeting also touches on active shooter training, high school graduation requirements and an updated vaccination policy.
The negotiated contract would run for two years. Beth Lougee would be paid $145,000 per year, plus benefits, if made permanent by the board. She took over the district’s top job on an interim basis after Robert Boyle stepped down in December 2018. Her interim contract expires June 30.
The board voted 4-2 to negotiate a permanent contract with Lougee late last year. Board president Bridget Mattson says she and board member Sonya Skan — who opposed hiring Lougee — worked with an attorney from the Association of Alaska School Boards to iron out the details.
Aside from salary details, the terms of the contract haven’t been released. In an email to KRBD, board president Bridget Mattson says board members had received copies of the negotiated contract to review ahead of the meeting. She declined to release the draft contract. The board’s discussion will be in a closed, executive session. If approved, the terms will become public.
In other business, the board will discuss active shooter training curriculum for students. At its last meeting, the board heard from parents and teachers who said they were worried that the program could traumatize students. One Tongass School of Arts and Sciences teacher told the board her school wouldn’t implement the curriculum, even if the board approves it.
The nation’s two largest teachers’ unions came out against active shooter training for students in a whitepaper published Tuesday, citing the potentially traumatic effects of lockdown drills. The unions, which worked with the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, also say there isn’t enough evidence that the training actually helps kids stay safe in a crisis.
But Ketchikan police officers told the board last month that even though the training could make some kids uncomfortable, it’s better than having no plan at all.
The board will hear about potential revisions to the ALICE curriculum, as it’s known, that aim to assuage community members’ concerns before it comes up for a vote Wednesday.
Graduation and vaccination requirements
In other business, the school board is scheduled to hear public testimony on a revised set of graduation requirements for Ketchikan’s high school students.
The changes are relatively minor. Under the new plan, fine arts classes would count toward a one-year career and technical education requirement. Additionally, health and physical education would be split into two one-semester requirements. Students would also be required to take the ACT, SAT or another test known as WorkKeys before graduating.
The board is also set to give final approval to an updated vaccination policy Wednesday. The revision would bring the district’s requirements in line with state law by tightening rules on who can sign off on medical and religious immunization exemptions.
The board also has a vacancy to fill. Four candidates have applied to fill the vacancy created after Rachel Breithaupt resigned last month for health reasons.
Ketchikan’s school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the borough assembly chambers. After a half-hour closed-door session to discuss an unspecified “personnel issue,” the regular meeting is slated to begin at 6 p.m.