The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District’s administrative assistants have negotiated a new contract. District officials are looking for the board’s approval to sign the contract. The agreement would mean a less than 2% pay increase for the district’s receptionists and secretaries. The slight raise for assistants was included in this year’s school district budget.

The new contract combines two groups that had previously negotiated separately. Administrative assistants are merging their deal with an existing contract for classified staff, like teachers’ aides, signed last year.

The employee union ratified the unified agreement earlier this month.

In other business, the board will discuss whether to apply for more than $190,000 in state grants. The competitive grant is administered by the state education department and funded with federal coronavirus aid under the CARES Act.

The board will also consider a roughly $240,000 deal with Ketchikan-based Schmolck Mechanical Contractors to replace a broken down boiler at Ketchikan High School. District maintenance staff have said that’s necessary to prevent a possible catastrophic heating system failure, which could damage school buildings. Ketchikan’s borough assembly approved funding for the project earlier this year.

The district’s back-to-school plan is not listed as an action item on the meeting’s agenda, though board members are scheduled to discuss holding a town hall meeting later this month.

The most recent public draft of the district’s Smart Start plan would have children in classrooms two days a week at the most in an effort to allow for social distancing. District officials have discussed housing elementary-schoolers in Ketchikan-area churches on days when they’re not scheduled to be in school buildings.

Some parents have pushed back against the plan, saying it’s unworkable and bad for kids’ mental health to not attend in person. Some have even urged the district to reopen schools at full capacity. Administrators have so far resisted that call, citing a need to protect teachers’ health and mental wellbeing.

The school board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Ketchikan’s White Cliff Building. Public comment will be heard at the beginning and end of the meeting.