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School board talks budget, NCLB

Ways to implement new staffing program discussed

Posted: Wednesday, February 06, 2008

At Monday's meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough school board, members were hopeful that they will find a way to implement the programatic staffing initiative, which would cost an additional $4.8 million that is not included in next year's budget.

"We designed what we felt like we should be offering to the students in this district," said Superintendent Donna Peterson. "What we're doing is using this as a selling point for the Legislature to say, 'This is what we need.'"

The board discussed different possibilities, including raising district enrollment in order to get more funding and finding ways to save money within the food service program by assessing the cost of products, delivery and preparation staff and making the program more cost-effective.

"We're sitting here with the possibility of doing some forward thinking," said Board Treasurer Sunni Hilts. "Right now, we don't have enough money, but at least we have the hope of educating our children the way they need to be educated. It's the most exciting atmosphere in the school board that I've seen."

This issue was addressed as part of the board's budget work session, which was held before the meeting.

Another work session focused on policy revisions. The main item covered was a change in the district's sexual harassment policy. The language of the policy has been broadened to include the sexual harassment of students or staff by other students, staff, board members or third parties. A definition of third parties has also been added. New language also ensures that no individual filing a complaint will be retaliated against.

Other policy changes included minor language variations and housekeeping changes.

Two additional work sessions dealt with Fireweed Charter School's request for a fifth classroom in West Homer Elementary and administration possibilities at Cooper Landing and Hope schools.

After the work sessions, the board held a teleconference with the Legislature that focused primarily on Gov. Sarah Palin's task force.

"They gave us some information that we might not have totally gleaned in the past as to how this is a three-legged stool," said Liz Downing, the acting board president for the meeting, referring to the fact that the recommendations apply to more than education.

Board President Sammy Crawford was excused from the meeting to be in Washington, D.C., to promote a resolution which supports changes to the No Child Left Behind Act.

"I'm not only going to vote against this, but I'm going to campaign against this," said board member Nels Anderson, who would like to see the No Child Left Behind Act dismantled rather than fixed, with regard to the resolution. "I don't think the good that's in it outweighs the bad."

Despite his argument, the board voted on and passed the resolution with Anderson having the only "no" vote.

"I think that the intentions are so sincere in the No Child Left Behind Act in attempting to bring more accountability directly to the parents," said board member Debbie Brown. "I do believe that the effort that was made was a tremendous, in good faith, act to try something really new."

Soldotna Montessori Charter School opened the meeting. Kindergartners led the pledge of allegiance as well as the flag song and students participating in the Model U.N. program presented information about their upcoming trip to New York City.

"What we do best at Soldotna Montessori can't be translated into scores or numbers," said Mo Sanders, the school's administrator. "Our real pride and joy lies not in our kid's daily work ... but in who they are and what they are becoming."

Adrianna Garcia, a senior at Kenai Central High School, was given a nomination certificate on behalf of the Spirit of Youth Foundation for her work with the D.A.R.E Alaska program, and Katrina Cannava, a Soldotna Elementary Title I tutor, and Mercedes Gibbs, a custodian at Soldotna Elementary and Soldotna Montessori, received Golden Apple Awards.

Hannahlee Allers can be reached at hannahlee.allers@peninsulaclarion.com



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