Around the District

Posted: Wednesday, August 23, 2000

District changes take-home calendar

This year, the traditional wall calendar from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will be missing from students' take-home packets. The district is issuing a refrigerator magnet calendar instead.

The magnetic calendar includes dates of all holiday and in-service student vacations.

District officials said the change will improve accuracy and reduce costs. Information on the old calendar sometimes became inaccurate because of schedule changes, they said.

For the most timely information on the details of school events and the district, families should refer to the district's information site on the Internet at www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us or call your school.

Lunch application more than just application

The federal government provides revenue to school districts for a variety of purposes. The most familiar program is probably the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. As most people are aware, this federal program is designed to ensure children receive a lunch either through a subsidized payment or the full price of the meal. It is based upon a family's ability to pay as determined by their income. There are other programs to increase opportunities for children of migrant families, programs to provide equitable telecommunication and Internet access for all children, and a variety of other entitlements.

The government typically disburses revenue for these other programs based upon the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches. One difficulty has been in obtaining information from families who qualify but choose not to participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. This resulted in the district losing the opportunity to receive federal support revenue on behalf of those children. An approach to limit this loss was through each program manager seeking to identify eligible children, and the consequence was multiple requests for the same information.

District officials say they believe the problem is in the data collection. The district understands and appreciates each family's personal choices. They further understand the sensitivity of personal financial information that is requested. Finally, they understand the irritation of being asked to provide the same information more than once.

In conjunction with the federal government, the district has received approval to combine its applications into one package. The application looks much like the old Free and Reduced Lunch application but is, in reality, a much more comprehensive form.

Families are asked to examine the form thoroughly. Although your family may choose not to participate in any of the available programs, please remember, withholding the information withholds entitlements to improve their education. If your family meets the guidelines for eligibility, you are asked to completely answer the questions and designate the appropriate programs in the "Release of Information" section.

Federal laws protect the privacy of individuals. The district's goal is to assure this privacy and offer the opportunity to submit forms at the school or sent directly to the Student Nutrition Office at 139 East Park, Soldotna, AK 99669. Further information may be received directly from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 262-9367.

Superintendent offers report on the district

Superintendent Donna Peterson issued her annual report on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District in July. Copies are available free from the district's central office at the Borough Building in Soldotna or via its Web site at www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us by following the links for the superintendent's section.

The report highlights accomplishments by students and staff, outlines the changes and roles of district departments and reviews district programs.

Superintendent, school board get high marks

The school board, meeting in June, reviewed Superintendent Donna Peterson's first year on the job and praised her work.

As required by district policy, this review encompassed the areas of leadership, management, personal qualities, external relations and board relations. Though this was Peterson's first year at the helm of the fourth largest school district in the state, the board praised her accomplishments and actions during a year of unprecedented change. Specifically, board members noted her level of commitment and dedication to student learning and achievement at all grade levels, according to a statement from the district.

On an annual basis, the board solicits input regarding all performance of all employees and is directly responsible for the supervision and evaluation of the superintendent.

The board members also discussed the function of their own group.

The board has adopted the Association of Alaska School Boards Model Board Standards and evaluation as its framework for evaluation. The areas reviewed include vision, structure, accountability, advocacy, conduct and ethics. The goals from the 1999-00 school year were the basis for the evaluation, according to a report from the board.

It said the five goals and accomplishments relating to them are:

Goal 1: Revisit, clarify roles, relationships and expectations for site councils. The board completely reviewed the site council process, used site councils as key communicators in the district and reviewed the report of progress from each school.

Goal 2: Continue developing criteria for the certified diploma certification. The focus this year was on remediation and preparing students for the benchmark and high school qualifying exam. These efforts will continue, and this goal will be expanded next year to include all levels of achievement, especially advanced.

Goal 3: Focus on positive public relations with an emphasis on safe schools. Board members "adopted" schools, a regular newspaper column appeared in the central peninsula, the recognition process was expanded and safe schools training occurred throughout the district.

Goal 4: Adopt the Association of Alaska School Board's Model Board Standards. Meetings and work sessions were analyzed using the framework from these standards. Board members received training in boardsmanship.

Goal 5: Support and facilitate a successful transition of new administrators. Sixteen new-to-position administrators received training and extra support during their first year of service.

Areas noted for improvement by board members included communication and active searching for opportunities to focus on positive achievements by students and staff of the KPBSD.

As always, input from the public is solicited and encouraged regarding the board's performance. Contact any board member with your comments, questions, or feedback.

Internet service offers school funds

The Internet shopping service Schoolpop Inc. offers a convenient way for online shoppers to raise funds for the schools of their choice. Many Kenai Peninsula schools are on the list.

To use the service, go to www.schoolpop.com, select the school you want to support, then use the site's portal to more than 100 online retailers. A portion of all purchases will be rebated to your school.

Challenger center offers fall workshops

The Challenger Center of Alaska in Kenai will offer a series of weekend science workshops for children this fall.

The Power of the Sun: Sept. 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., for grades three through six, cost $40. Students will study solar energy and its application to the international space station. The day will include a presentation on solar hydrogen technology fuel cells.

The Science of Crystals: Oct. 7, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., for grades four through eight, cost $25. Student will analyze crystal development under magnification. Emphasis will be on angles and shape development.

Models with Muscle: Oct. 27-28, 4 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday, for grades three through six, cost $80. Student will build models resembling our bodies' joints, sockets and digits to understand how complex machines are designed.

Magnets Magnetism: Nov. 10-11, 4 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday, for grades three through six, cost $80. Students will study the solar system's planets' and satellites' magnetic fields and their relationship to the Earth. They will build a hanging model of the solar system and graph out the magnetic fields.

Hot Air Balloons: Nov. 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., grades four through eight, cost $40. Students will study hot air balloons and what makes them work.

Rockets: Nov. 24, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., grades through six, cost $45. Students will study the history, developments and principals of rocket science by building a model rocket and launching it.

The center also is offering training to school teachers to prepare for "Rendezvous with a Comet," the mission now available to school groups at the center. Teacher training is required six to eight weeks prior to classroom participation in a mission.

The training qualifies teachers to receive one continuing training credit through Kenai Peninsula College. If teachers attended the training last year, they will not be required to take it again. However, they may retake the class for the training credit, which was not offered last year.

Teacher training sessions in Kenai will be Sept. 16 and Oct. 7. Preregistration is required.

To sign up for teachers' or children's courses, or for more information, call 283-2000.

Poll: Most parents confident in safety

Despite national attention to violent incidents in schools, most Americans still feel their children are safe at school, according to a recent poll conducted by Maritz Marketing Research, which calls itself one of the world's largest marketing research firms.

On a scale of one to 10 (with 10 being "extremely safe" and one being "not at all safe"), the average American rated their confidence in the safety of their children's school an 8.3.

How children get to school is usually a big safety concern for most parents. Almost half of respondents (46 percent) said their children take the school bus or other school-provided transportation to school. Following is how other children make the daily trek to school:

You/your spouse/other adult in home drives 5%

Children walk or ride their bike 12%

Children drive themselves 7%

Car pool 6%

Other form of transportation 3%

Unsupervised time before and after school is yet another safety issue that many working families have to resolve. However, only 16 percent of respondents said their children attend some type of before- or after-school latchkey program.

Kalifornsky Beach Elementary

If you have e-mail and would like to be "in the know" with school news, send an e-mail to amom@eagle.ptialaska.net with "subscribe" in the subject line and you will receive a weekly newsletter. This newsletter is put together by parent volunteer, Jackie Ansotegui.

Nikiski Elementary

The Nikiski Elementary PTA would like to welcome back its students, staff members, families and especially the new principal, Mark Norgren. PTA members say they anticipate many positive changes this school year.

The PTA will host a small social for all new and returning parents this morning from 9:15 to 10. All kindergarten parents are especially encouraged to come. Coffee and pastries will be provided. Stop by and meet Mr. Norgren, and while you are there, take the opportunity to make a new friend.

Parents and students are reminded that when riding bicycles to school, they should wear bicycle helmets and walk their bicycles through the parking lot to the rack and trails. Bicycle locks also are recommended.

The PTA thanks all of the school volunteers from last year. Volunteer of the month for April was Katrina Hendershott and for May was Susan Quinn.

Sears Elementary

Where has the summer gone? It's time to head back to school. Everyone at Sears Elementary is looking forward to another great year.

There will be a parent breakfast in the library today and Tuesday starting at 8:30 a.m. This is a great opportunity to get to know other parents, so stop by.

Safety is important. Remember not to block the bus lane and not to park by the portables. Use the parking lot in front of the school, which has marked parking spots. The school thanks you for your co-operation.

The PTA will sell supply packets. The cost will be as follows: Kindergarten $8.25, first grade $7.50 and second grade $7. These packets will contain many basic supplies.

The PTA will continue to collect box tops. Bring in any box tops and put them into the box in the office. Remember, they all add up, so please save.

The back-to-school barbecue will be Sept. 9 from noon to 2 p.m. The cost will be $2 per person.

If you have a question, check the Web site at familyeducation.com/ak/sears_elementary or e-mail the Sears PTA at searspta@ptamail.com.

To have information published in Schools, send a description of the event or accomplishment to Shana Loshbaugh at P.O. Box 3009, Kenai, AK 99611. Information will be accepted by e-mail at clarion@alaska.net or by fax at 283-3299.

The deadline for submission is Thursday at 5 p.m. for publication in the following Wednesday's paper. For information, contact Shana Loshbaugh at 283-7551.



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