The Ketchikan School Board is set for a discussion-laden meeting on Wednesday evening. A work session on the Ketchikan School District's coronavirus mitigation plan is on the agenda along with discussions about the district's pending search for a permanent superintendent; scheduling a board self-evaluation; the district's strategic plan and board training; and a discussion of drug and addiction issues.

Start Strong work session

The Ketchikan School Board is set to discuss on Wednesday the Ketchikan School District's coronavirus mitigation plan.

During a work session, the rules of order are relaxed to foster discussion among board members. No actions may be taken during the work session.

The board won't be making any changes to the Start Strong plan on Wednesday night, Board President Stephen Bradford and Board Clerk-Treasurer Bridget Mattson confirmed on Monday. If the board is interested in making changes to the plan, they said, after the work session, a board member could move to direct staff to bring forward changes to the plan for the board to consider at a future meeting.

Since the beginning of the school year, nearly every board meeting has seen parents and students testify at the lectern to criticize the district's mitigation plan, mostly to oppose the parts of the plan that require students to wear masks when more than 25 cases of COVID-19 are active in the community.

When fewer than 25 cases of COVID-19 are active in the community — which encompasses the district's "Low" and "Moderate" community risk level — masking is optional.

Superintendent search

The district in July temporarily suspended its search for a permanent superintendent after expressing dissatisfaction with its roster of finalist candidates.

That search looks poised to resume soon, with a discussion item on the agenda regarding the "permanent superintendent position."

Bradford explained Monday that the discussion item was added after hearing from the Association of Alaska School Boards, the entity that is helping to conduct the district's superintendent search.

"We need to discuss (AASB's) timeline parameters. They are suggesting that we need to move that forward at this point and begin to identify appropriate candidates" for the permanent superintendent position, Bradford said in a Monday phone call.

Board evaluation

The second discussion item pertains to "scheduling a board evaluation," per the agenda.

Though the agenda statement for the discussion item links to the board's policy governing board self-evaluation — board members evaluating the board's efficiency and effectiveness — Bradford on Monday said that discussion item would give the board a chance to schedule an evaluation for Interim Superintendent Melissa Johnson.

An evaluation for Johnson would give her "an indication of how the board sees her performance, and any suggestions that might be necessary," said Bradford. "So, that'll be just the typical evaluation. ... She's an interim position holder at this point, so we want to give her some feedback, and have the opportunity to do that in an evaluation setting."

He clarified later: "The evaluation of the superintendent will be discussed, certainly, during the discussion topics, because it's important to me, and whether it happens under item A or item B, I don't know, but ... yeah, there is a process to go through a board self-evaluation. I think it's probably a little early, since we've got two new members that are both officers, to do much of an in-depth self-evaluation in the short-term. But yeah, we may discuss how we get that scheduled."

Training/strategic plan

Third on the discussion item list, the board will consider "whether or not we should formally schedule some board training or a time to discuss any changes to the overall strategic plan of the district," Bradford explained Monday.

"In the past, when I was on the board, we would have someone from AASB come in and provide that board training," he explained. "We'll discuss whether or not we want to do that, whether or not we want to incur the cost, or whether we can do it by Zoom, or how we might handle that in an effective manner."

Drug issues

The final discussion item on the agenda is a "Report on drug/addiction issues."

Bradford explained on Monday that the discussion won't involve a written report; rather, it aims to start a conversation about drug use in the community similar to recent discussions at the Ketchikan City Council.

"We just don't want to ignore that issue because it is having such a huge impact on our community right now. We've got this batch of bad heroin on the island, and it's just disrupting everything. So, we just have that on the agenda because we don't want to lose sight of how important it is," Bradford said.

New business

As the lone item of new business on the agenda, Ketchikan High School Softball Coach Kalea Allen is planning to take the Kayhi softball team to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in April for a spring training tournament.

Up to 14 girls and up to three coaches would go on the trip from April 2 to April 9.

The total cost for the trip, excluding airfare, is estimated at $7,070. The team plans to fundraise to pay for the trip.

Public hearing

The board also will hold a second reading of a proposed revision to the board's agenda-setting policy to clarify 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."

Board Members Diane Gubatayao and Nicole Anderson voted against the proposed revision at the board's Oct. 27 meeting.

Meeting information

Wednesday's meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly chambers at 1900 First Ave. 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.

The district's Start Strong plan can be read in full on the district website at kgbsd.org.