Three threes and a two are on the Ketchikan School Board's meeting agenda on Wednesday night: three proposed policy revisions, three contracts, three discussion items and two items of new business.
The policy revisions are related to intergovernmental relations, flying flags at half-staff and clarifying who is responsible for preparing the board's meeting agendas. The two items of new business concern the purchase of a refrigerator and freezer for the Ketchikan Charter School annex at Holy Name Catholic School and the receipt of another batch of coronavirus relief funds.
Wednesday's meeting will be the last with the board's current membership. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly is set to certify the results of the Oct. 5 borough election on Monday. At the board's Oct. 27 meeting, Stephen Bradford and Keenan Sanderson will be sworn in as the board's newest members, replacing Board President Kim Hodne and Board Member Doug Gregg.
During her report to the board near the start of the meeting, Interim Superintendent Melissa Johnson will provide updates on several developments in the district, including its hiring of a new COVID-19 testing coordinator, the date of the next Start Strong Committee meeting and the district's plan to temporarily move forward after its Human Resources manager resigned.
The Start Strong Committee will meet next on Oct. 19.
According to the report overview, the district's HR manager resigned effective Oct. 20.
"The plan in the interim is to train (District COVID Communications and Public Relations Director) Linnaea Troina to fill in the gap until the new Superintendent is hired," Johnson's report agenda states. "The new superintendent can then decide to hire either a HR Manager, a HR Director, or some other way to fill that position. Linnaea will be working with the current HR Manager over the next 10 days, focusing on learning the day-to-day operations. I will be assisting in the transition."
After the superintendent's report, the board will revisit a policy revision it tabled at its last meeting after board members suggested that further edits were needed.
The proposed Board Policy 1420, "Relations between Sovereign Nations and Schools," would outline the district's relationships and involvements with local tribal governments.
As proposed at the last board meeting, the board policy consisted of the following two paragraphs:
"The School Board recognizes that sovereign nations share its concern and responsibility for the welfare, health and safety of our youth. The Board and staff shall take every opportunity to consult with these tribal governments for the benefit of our students.
"The School Board shall initiate and maintain good working relationships with representatives of tribal governments in order to help our schools and students succeed. The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that agreements with tribal governments, which involve the exchange of funds or reciprocal services, are executed in writing so that roles and responsibilities are clearly defined."
The proposal on Wednesday's meeting agenda was revised in the following ways:
The phrase "take every opportunity to" was removed from the first paragraph. Board Clerk-Treasurer Bridget Mattson at the Sept. 23 meeting identified that phrase as "potentially onerous" for district staff.
The description "these tribal governments" was expanded to "our local tribal governments."
The words "and seek to work cooperatively" was inserted before "for the benefit of our students."
With those revisions, the revised sentence states: "The board and staff shall consult with our local tribal governments and seek to work cooperatively for the benefit of our students."
The policy committee did not recommend any other changes to the policy — though it did recommend adding a paragraph to a companion administrative regulation, also regarding the intergovernmental relations policy.
The original proposal as presented on Sept. 23 would have created Administrative Regulation 1420, with one paragraph: "The School Board President shall engage the elected leadership of the tribal governments in order to arrange formal consultation between the governing bodies. The School Board shall make reasonable effort to meet annually (at a minimum) with each tribal government within the School District."
The proposal on Wednesday's agenda would add another paragraph to that regulation: "In the spirit of reciprocity, the first meeting of the year shall be hosted by the School Board, funded by the Board budget. Each governing body shall appoint representatives to collaboratively develop an agenda for the meeting."
Next, the board will consider adding a policy for flying flags at half-staff.
"Interim Superintendent Melissa Johnson asked the policy committee to look into adding language into policy regarding the appropriate times to lower flags to half-mast," the meeting agenda explains.
The proposed policy would add a section to the existing "Ceremonies and Observances" section of board policy titled "Lowering of the flag." It would consist of the following language: "The School District shall honor the proclamations of the elected Governor or President of the United States to fly the flag at half-mast for appropriate events. Duration shall adhere to the proclamation."
Johnson clarified in a message on Tuesday that the policy was intended to refer to flying flags at half-staff rather than half-mast. Flags are flown at half-mast on ships and naval stations; otherwise on land they are flown at half-staff.
Finally, the board will review a proposal to amend its policy describing who prepares meeting agendas.
The current policy states that "the School Board president and/or vice president, and/or clerk treasurer, and the Superintendent shall prepare an agenda for each meeting of the Board."
Instead, the proposed revision would replace the mentions of the vice president and clerk-treasurer with reference to a "designee."
The revised sentence would state: "The School Board president or designee and the Superintendent shall prepare an agenda for each meeting of the board."
A new paragraph also would be added to that section under the proposed revision explaining that "agenda setting is not a meeting of the board, therefore direction should not be given and requests for information should be limited to issues of clarity for the agenda."
Three contracts are on the board's consent calendar on Wednesday, with Mark Woodward, Kristin Ferris and Robert Hewitt.
Woodward would be hired as a long-term substitute music and STEAM teacher (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) at the Tongass School of Arts and Sciences. His contract would commit the district to $7,286.03.
Ferris would be hired as a speech language pathologist for the district. She would be paid an annual salary of $78,701.89; with insurance and benefits, her contract would cost the district $102,754.29.
Hewitt would be awarded a $49,410 professional services contract to help develop and implement a plan to potentially fund some security system upgrades for the district without state monies, revive the district's Safety Committee and help to implement the Professional Boundaries training standard.
"His extensive knowledge and experience as a trusted educational leader in the community uniquely positions him to give support and guidance to District Administration in implementation of safety training and procedures across the district and project management of key safety and security projects as directed," the agenda explains.
Food service equipment grant
As its first new business item on Wednesday, the board will respond to a request from the district to apply for up to $10,000 from the School Food Service Equipment Assistance Grant to purchase a freezer, a refrigerator and a milk cooler for Ketchikan Charter School's annex site at Holy Name.
The grant is available to the district as part of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development's Child Nutrition Program. Money from the grant can be used to buy "equipment helpful to serve healthier meals, meet the new nutritional standards with emphasis on more fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals, improve food safety and expand accessibility to food services," per the meeting agenda.
"The Holy Name annex that houses the Ketchikan Charter School's primary grades and preschool are in need of a freezer, refrigerator, and milk cooler. These items will improve the school lunch program at this location," the agenda explains.
The district had budgeted $10,000 for the expenditure, but it could cost as much as $13,769.92, as "shipping costs may vary," the agenda explains.
District Business Manager Katie Parrott clarified in a Tuesday phone call that the $13,000 cost is without using the grant money; with the money from the grant, the district would pay only $3,769.92 for the equipment.
COVID relief funds
Finally, the district is asking the board to approve the acceptance of $1.45 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act passed in March.
The district would be accepting Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, often abbreviated as ESSER III funds because March's coronavirus relief act was the third federal measure disbursing that type of relief funding.
"The State of Alaska has issued ESSER III funds to Districts in two allocations, the final installment pending approval of the state's ARPA plan by the (U.S. Department of Education)," the agenda explains. "The first installment of ($2.94 million) was released by the State in May of 2021 with planned uses approved by the board through the annual budget cycle in April."
"Through its (2022 fiscal year) budgeting process," the agenda continues, "the District sought public community input on use of COVID relief funds and the School Board has already authorized planned uses of these funds for the FY22 year. District administration is recommending the final allocation of funds be used to address the COVID-specific costs in the District's health insurance program, pending final approval from the State, and is seeking the Board's approval of this planned use."
To close out the meeting, board members will discuss the proposed 2022-23 school year calendar, the board's travel budget and the proficiency rate on student assessments.
The proposed calendar is attached to the meeting agenda, along with six pages of feedback on the proposed calendar from a survey.
Respondents were split on several proposed scheduled items.
Christmas break would run from Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022 to Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023 under the proposed calendar. One respondent wrote: "LOVE the midweek winter break dates. Seems like travel would be easier for those who travel over this break." Another had the opposite reaction: "For the Christmas break that is the wonkiest break schedule I have ever seen."
The calendar also would place a staff professional development day on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 — eight days after the start of school and the day before Labor Day weekend.
One response agreed with the majority of those surveyed: "Request more (professional development) days on the front end, before students start." Another felt differently: "I also think families are going to love the 4-day weekend in September. Smart move putting that Inservice day on the Friday before Labor Day :)"
Regarding the "travel budget" item, the agenda explains: "A revision of the Board budget will be required to fund travel, including to the upcoming November annual conference of the Association of Alaska School Boards."
Wednesday's board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly chambers. There will be time for public comment near the start of the meeting.
The meeting agenda can be read in full on the board website at schoolboard.kgbsd.org.