School board to focus on old issues

Posted: Monday, June 07, 2004

Classes have dismissed for the summer; the May graduation season is at an end; and the Legislature has adjourned its regular session.

Now, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board can try to get some closure on a year's worth of debate.

Most pressing on the agenda for the board's meeting tonight is a revision to the 2004-05 budget. The board approved a bare-bones budget in April but now has the opportunity to add back some cut programs and funds due to additional education funding passed by the Legislature.

Though the board has spent several months debating hypothetical add-backs, tonight will be the first opportunity board members have to vote on the particulars of next year's final budget. Among their options are the reinstatement of the cocurricular activities program, elimination of a 12 percent cut to supply budgets, funding for the continuation of the summer school program and formation of contingency funds for a number of anticipated, but as of yet uncertain, expenditure increases.

The budget isn't the only issue up for discussion, though.

The board also has the opportunity to bring some closure to an ongoing discussion of weighted grades for high-school students in the district. The past few board meetings have included work sessions for board members to hash out the pros and cons of giving students extra grade credits for advanced classes. For the most part, the whole of the board appears divided on the issue, with several board members saying last month that they saw both sides of the question and didn't know how they'd vote.

However, at the board's request, district administration is bringing forward a recommendation tonight to implement weighted grades for certified Advanced Placement courses districtwide. The weighting would impact student grade point averages so that, in an AP course, an A would be worth 5 points; a B, 4; a C, 3; a D, 2; and an F, 0. In the standard GPA scale, an A is worth 4 points; a B, 3; a C, 2; a D, 1; and an F, 0.

Also on the agenda are a number of changes to Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association (KPSAA) policies. The changes would clean up language in the job description for athletic directors; shorten the appeal window for suspended high school students from 10 to five days to match district policy; change middle school policy language for basketball and volleyball rules to match current practices; and provide a stipend for a wrestling coach at Voznesenka School, where a program has emerged with strong participation in the last four years. Another proposed change will update eligibility guidelines to accommodate charter and home-school programs.

At the high school level, the new rule would require students to be enrolled in a district-approved correspondence, alternative or charter program and designate a "school of eligibility" for cocurricular activities. Students could then participate in activities at that school. Students would be able to change schools of eligibility once during the summer without consequence. Changes of schools of eligibility during the school year would make students ineligible for competitions at the new school for 18 weeks.

At the middle school level, policy changes would encourage schools of 150 or more students to provide their own interscholastic programs, so that an unmanageable number of youth aren't traveling to another school and competing for space on teams, explained Dave Spence, the district's director of planning and operations.

The board's work day will begin at 1 p.m. today with a work session on the KPSAA policies. At 2 p.m., the board will discuss budget revisions. At 3 p.m., there will be a work session updating board members on the district's long-range plan. At 4 p.m., board members will begin their evaluations of Superintendent Donna Peterson, and at 5 p.m., they will work on self-evaluations.

The general meeting, which begins at 7:30 tonight, will include board action on:

KPSAA policy changes.

The fiscal year 2005 budget revision.

Administrator appointments for Guy G. Fisher III, replacing Gary Whiteley as assistant superintendent; Daniel J. Beck, assistant principal at Homer High School; and Sharon K. Conley, principal-teacher at Nikolaevsk School.

Nontenure teacher assignments for Timothy J. McFarlant, music-art-PE, Aurora Borealis Charter; Amy Stalmaster, special education, Homer Middle; Christopher Towne, music, Paul Banks and West Homer elementary schools; Erin Southwick, music, Soldotna Elementary; Anne McCabe, grades one through three, Soldotna Montessori Charter; and Susan Larned, grades one through three, Soldotna Montessori Charter School.

Resignations for Dick Sander, principal, Chapman Elementary; John W. Bushell, Quest, Homer Middle; Marcie L. Curry, special education, Kenai Central High; Kim Shostak, special education, on leave of absence from Kenai Central High; Erik Viste, psychologist, Kenai Central High; Beth Ladd, special education, Nikiski Middle-Senior High; Sheila DeVolld, grade five, Redoubt Elementary; Richard C. Houghton, science teacher and athletic director, Seward High; M. Colleen Pucillo, psychologist, Soldotna Middle; and Tracy L. Wimmer, grade five, Sterling Elementary.

Long-term substitute contracts for Diane Bernard, grades one and two, Sears Elementary; and Marie Alexson, grade five, West Homer Elementary School.

Leaves of absence for Nora Ribbens, aide, Nikiski Elementary, effective April 9 to 26; Darrell Moore, custodian, Nikiski Elementary, effective 2004-05 school year; Kyle D. Gauthier, secretary, Soldotna Middle, effective 2004-05 school year; Alexei V. Basargin, social studies, Nikolaevsk, effective 2004-05 school year; and Ann McLain, grade seven, Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School, effective 2004-05 school year.

Tenure status for Jill Herbert, special education, Seward Elementary School.

A new teacher assignment for Kathleen Holt, kindergarten through second grade, Soldotna Montessori Charter School.

Board meetings and work sessions are held at the assembly chambers at the Borough Building in Soldotna. Meetings are open to the public, and testimony is taken during general evening meetings. The board also will meet Tuesday for its annual planning session from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the superintendent's office at the Borough Building. The all-day meeting is an opportunity for board members to set goals and priorities for the coming school year.



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