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Reconfiguration advisory committee holds first meeting

Posted: September 11, 2013 - 10:15pm  |  Updated: September 11, 2013 - 10:27pm

Tuesday was a launching point for many upcoming decisions to be made as Soldotna’s school reconfigure.

A 14-person advisory committee met at the Soldotna Middle School Library to discuss cultural and historical issues involved in the upcoming Soldotna Schools reconfiguration.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District School Board approved the reconfiguration of three Soldotna area secondary schools last spring. The reconfiguration includes:

■ Soldotna area grades 10-12 located at the current Soldotna High School campus.

■ Soldotna area ninth-grade, and River City Academy, housed at the current Soldotna Middle School.

■ Soldotna area seventh- and eighth-grade students located at the current Skyview High School.

An advisory committee was formed with students, school staff and site council members to gain public input on important decisions and make recommendations to the school board. The advisory committee will meet a total of six times through Nov. 19 and serve in an advisory capacity with a goal of a written report completed by Nov. 22.

Doug Hayman, Transition Facilitator for the committee, began the meeting by asking those on the advisory committee to introduce themselves.

The group’s experiences ranged from students attending the schools involved in the reconfiguration, staff who work at the schools and community members who are alumni of the schools. Each was given a brief time to discuss their history and thoughts on why they were part of the committee.

A small group of parents and community members sat and listened during the meeting of the advisory committee. While many in the audience voiced concern in whispers, Hayman asked that audience questions be emailed to him for response.

Hayman then discussed the norms, or etiquette, with the committee. He explained he understood that many of the topics were emotional and the group needed to make decisions by consensus, challenge ideas — not people — and sometimes agree to disagree.

“We need to be open and honest with each other,” Hayman said.

The next step the group was tasked with was forming a list of the items that the committee needs to discuss. With each committee member’s opinions, the list included school names, mascots and possible new school colors, an equitable transition of schools, the cost of changes and budget concerns, sports and the need for information about the ninth-grade house.

After the list of concerns was lined out, Hayman explained that some issues, including staffing, transportation and co-curricular activities to be offered were not the charge of the committee. He said staffing for the reconfiguration will be announced on Jan. 15, 2014.

While many in the group, including two of the student members, voiced the importance of starting the next meeting with discussion of school names, colors and mascots, others explained more information was key to finding a starting point.

With the knowledge that the group was in need of more information about the state and district standards of the ninth-grade house, as well as the cost and budget the group needs to stay within when making recommendations, Hayman acknowledged he had information to research for the group for the next meeting.

The meeting concluded with a consensus, shown by 14 thumbs up, to first tackle the subject of the ninth-grade house at the next meeting to be held on Sept. 24.

“I feel like I’m driving a bus, and I have all the right people on the bus,” Hayman said.

 

Reach Sara Hardan at sara.hardan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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