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By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer
Two Ketchikan School Board members were sworn in to three-year terms at Wednesday’s meeting.
Incumbent Matt Eisenhower and Rachel Breithaupt were sworn in, while the third individual elected during Ketchikan’s municipal election, Sonya Skan, will be sworn in at the School Board’s next meeting, as she was not present.
But, before the swearing in could happen, the School Board held a special meeting at 5:30 to accept the resignation of Rachel Breithaupt, who was appointed to fill the vacancy left behind by Trevor Shaw’s departure.
Breithaupt ran and was elected to one of the three open three-year seats, and thus resigned from the yearlong interim position to serve for a full term.
During the special meeting, the School Board also declared a new vacancy and will begin accepting applications for the opening. The new member will be appointed at the School Board’s Oct. 24 meeting.
During Wednesday’s regular meeting, the organization of the School Board leadership was also considered.
Eisenhower, who was nominated by School Board Member Diane Gubatayao, was chosen to be the new president, replacing School Board Member Kim Hodne who had been serving in the role since Shaw’s resignation.
“I want to say that I really appreciate what Kim has done for us. He really brought a lot of stability and calm to the (School) Board and this is in no way a judgment of what you’ve done, you’ve done awesome,” Gubatayao said. “But I had to make a tough choice and I chose to support Matt.”
Following that, Gubatayao nominated Hodne to serve as vice president, which he accepted.
School Board Member Glen Thompson nominated Gubatayao to serve as clerk-treasurer.
All three nominations did not need to be voted on, as the entire board agreed and approved the motions with unanimous consent.
“I want to echo (Gubatayao’s comments), I just appreciate Kim and the transition over the last month,” Eisenhower said.
Eisenhower also thanked the candidates who ran for seats on the School Board during the municipal elections.
“I’m just grateful for the folks who ran for election; obviously we’ll be getting to fill in the vacant seat that Rachel gave up,” Eisenhower said. “… We’ll be in the process of filling that at our next meeting.”
Only one person spoke during the citizen comment section of the meeting, which has typically had multiple speakers over the last few months.
Ketchikan Education Association Vice President Sarah Campbell told the School Board that the reason for the marathon periods of public comments were because people feel like they are not being heard.
Campbell said she wished negotiations were open to the public and encouraged the body to appoint members of the School Board to the district’s negotiating team.
“I would really encourage this board to make a decision tonight and to appoint at least one, if not two, members of this board to serve on the district bargaining team so that it opens lines of communication, decisions can be made quickly, effectively,” Campbell said. “… We asked our members to kind of stand down tonight.”
Campbell expressed hope that the new School Board would come to a resolution on teacher contracts in the coming weeks, noting that the elections have brought together a new School Board that she hoped would help facilitate the negotiations.
“It’s a fresh start right? It’s kind of like a new school year,” she said.
Also Wednesday, the School Board heard from Beth Lougee, director of curriculum and professional development for the district. Lougee said that the investigation into the Douglas Edwards case is being wrapped up and said a report from the investigator might come tentatively at the School Board’s next meeting.
Lougee told the Daily News following the meeting that the report would be released to the School Board in a closed executive session, and what information in the report that gets released to the public would be up to members of the School Board.
Lougee also presented the School Board with data showing the district’s results of the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools standardized test, which gauges students in mathematics, language arts and science.
“In all three areas, Ketchikan outscored the state averages. So the first thing we can deduct from that is we have a very good school system, we have strong teachers,” Lougee said “… Overall as a state, scores are still right around there at the 50, 40 percentile — we’re above that — so I predict that we’re going to continue to go up.”
The full PEAKS testing data can be found on the district’s website.
Also Wednesday, the School Board:
• Heard Ketchikan Charter School’s annual report.
• Listened to reports from Superintendent Bob Boyle and Student Member Michael Brown.
• Discussed the Alaska Association of School Board’s annual conference.
• Convened an executive session to discuss negotiations with KEA.
The next School Board meeting is scheduled for Oct. 24.