Ketchikan’s school board will consider on Wednesday a new policy formalizing its commitment to work together with the community’s federally-recognized tribes. It’s the latest proposal to bolster collaboration between the school board and Alaska Native communities in Ketchikan.
The board’s Paul Robbins Jr. explained the move last month after the measure passed the board’s policy committee.
“We wrote a new board policy and AR in order to address our responsibility to meet in government-to-government consultation with the Alaska Native governments, the sovereign nations that are here in Ketchikan,” he said.
The new policy and administrative regulation — that’s the AR he referenced — require the board to “make a reasonable effort” to meet at least once a year with local tribal leaders from Ketchikan Indian Community and the Organized Village of Saxman, the two federally-recognized tribes in the Ketchikan area. District officials say the policy is in line with federal education law requiring tribal consultation.
The new policy needs a majority vote to move forward, and the board’s three-member policy committee recommends approval.
The board has a few other things on its agenda for Wednesday evening — including an agreement to purchase 10 new servers for a cost of roughly $240,000 spread over five years. District officials say in a memo that the lease-to-own agreement would support the district’s existing web infrastructure and keep pace with advances in technology — including a plan to upgrade security cameras at all Ketchikan schools.
But it’s also notable what’s not on the agenda: namely, any modifications to the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols. At the school board’s last meeting earlier this month, some parents and students railed against mask requirements in gym classes and asked the board to act. And separately, the board spent nearly an hour discussing whether students at one Ketchikan middle school should be assigned lockers. Neither effort led to action by the board.
Though pandemic protocols are likely to come up in the superintendent’s report, the board doesn’t have any proposals to modify COVID-19 precautions on its agenda.
Ketchikan’s school board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the White Cliff Building on First Avenue. The meeting is also broadcast on local cable channels and livestreamed at the borough’s website. Members of the public have a chance to weigh in at the beginning of the meeting.