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New Craig school creating tension with Klawock

Posted: Wednesday, May 10, 2000

KETCHIKAN (AP) -- A $13 million high school soon to open in Craig is creating some tension between school superintendents in that town and nearby Klawock.

Craig's Darrell Johnson says there's enough room in the 45,000-square-foot school to accommodate the students of both Prince of Wales Island communities, separated by only seven miles of highway.

Consolidation would allow the Craig School District to expand its high school curriculum, Johnson said.

''I think it's my job as superintendent of Craig to make as many opportunities for our students as possible,'' he told the Ketchikan Daily News. ''I just know that larger schools can offer many more advanced classes.''

But Johnson's comments are fighting words in Klawock.

''(Craig) appears to be recruiting students,'' said Superintendent Bob Robertson.

Klawock fought hard to get its own high school 18 years ago and has no intention of sending its students to Craig, as it did previously, he said.

''It was a big sense of pride for the community of Klawock to have their own school,'' Robertson said.

Johnson denied the recruiting charge, but he said Craig would take advantage of an exemption this year from the state Department of Education that allows it to enroll students from other districts.

''If they are going to choose an institution, why shouldn't it be Craig?'' he asked.

Craig's new $13 million high school is scheduled to open in August. It has a capacity of 230 students, but Craig has a high-school population of about 100 students.

The new facility includes a sophisticated science lab, computer classrooms, a 230-seat auditorium and a 3,200-square-foot commons area. It will replace a school so overcrowded that the district needed five temporary structures to create enough classroom space.

Robertson said he isn't worried that Craig will draw high school students away from his district because Klawock has experienced teachers and good facilities.

''We can attract just as well as anyone else,'' he said.

Both the education department and the Legislature can force school districts to consolidate, said DOE information officer Harry Gamble. While Gamble said his department would not do that, trends in education spending may make a voluntary merger more attractive in the future.

''As the districts are looking at budget cuts, they are obviously going to have to examine greater efficiencies,'' he said.



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