The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education will have a brief reprieve from budget talks and an opportunity to get back to the business of education today.
The board meets in Seward today and, though the general meeting agenda is slim, a number of work sessions are planned throughout the afternoon.
Many of the work sessions are continuations or follow-ups from previous board conversations, but one topic is notably absent from the agenda: the 2004-05 budget.
The budget was approved last month but is expected to be significantly revised after the Legislature and governor decide on education funding later this month. While the board is sure to continue talking and hearing from the public about next year's funding, today's meetings will focus on other issues.
The afternoon will begin at 2:30 with a work session on weighted grades. After a handful of requests by parents and board members, the board took up the issue of weighted grades at its last meeting. An informal proposal under discussion would give extra weight to grades in Advanced Placement classes, giving high-achieving students a "leg up" on college and scholarship applications. Both Anchorage and Fairbanks schools use weighted grades.
The issue is a much-debated one throughout the country, and the Kenai Peninsula is no exception. While several board members were in favor of the idea, they also discussed equity issues, as some schools in the district do not have access to AP classes.
Though the conversation will continue today, no decisions are scheduled in the immediate future.
At 3:30 p.m., board members will have their monthly conference call with area legislators. Typically, board members and administrators use this time to get firsthand updates on progress in Juneau and to remind legislators what is important to local schools.
At 4 p.m., the board will once again discuss Quest, the district's program for talented and gifted students. The Quest program came to the forefront of talks when some of its teachers were cut from the 2004-05 budget. Since then, Quest teachers and the district have discussed several different ways to provide the services for talented and gifted students, and a task force met on the subject last month to examine the program in detail. Board members will review the output of that task force meeting and continue discussing the future of the program. Again, no decisions are slated for tonight.
At 5 p.m., the board will discuss a request from the public to change district policy language. On Feb. 2, a member of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays asked the board to review the district's nondiscrimination policy to include "sexual orientation" as a protected topic, along with gender, race, religion and other standards.
The district has several policies regarding discrimination, both for students and staff. None include the term "sexual orientation," though they are more inclusive than the standard "Equal Opportunity Employer" catchphrases.
For example, board policy 4030 Nondiscrimination in Employment starts out: "The district and its employees shall not unlawfully discriminate against or harass employees or job applicants on the basis of sex, race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, age over 40, marital status, physical or mental disability, Vietnam era veteran status or good faith reporting to the board on a matter of public concern."
At 5:30 p.m., this year's districtwide science specialist Rick Frederic will discuss the past months of implementing the district's new science curriculum. Superintendent Don-na Peterson explained that after the district adopts a new curriculum, it tries to spend a year working to implement it properly. That is accomplished through the use of a teacher on special assignment, such as Teresa Kiffmeyer's work last year with social studies or Frederic's work this year with science.
The general board meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. The board is scheduled to take action on:
A tentative tenure teacher assignment for Richard Redmond at Seward High School.
Tenure status for Karen Ruebsamen, the district's homeless liaison.
A substitute teacher contract for Holly Alston, math teacher at Seward High.
A correction to next year's board meeting dates, changing the May 9 meeting to May 2 in keeping with the first and third Monday rotation.
An administrator appointment for Terry Martin, now principal of Nikolaevsk School, to take over as principal of Ninilchik School. Mike Wetherbee, the current Ninilchik principal, was been approved for a one-year leave of absence April 5.
An unpaid leave of absence for Charlotte Records, fifth- and sixth-grade teacher at Ninilchik School.
A revision to the current year's budget to reflect a slightly lower enrollment than expected. The final count for the district's average daily membership was 9,561.95.
Revisions to Section 3000: Business and Noninstructional Operations in the board policy manual. Among the numerous changes are revisions that incorporate an appeal process for contract bids; updates to bid policies to reflect borough policies; changes to the way the district accounts for assets; updates to the pest management policy, the transportation policy and the tobacco-free schools policies. Detailed policies are available online.
Revisions to board bylaw 9320 concerning board meetings. The change will reflect the move to a 7 p.m. meeting time that will take effect July 12.
Today's work sessions and general meeting will be at Seward High School. All meetings are open to the public. Testimony is taken during the general evening meeting, but work sessions are listen-only.
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