Two districts interested in state correspondence school

Posted: Thursday, September 04, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Two school districts Juneau and Yukon-Koyukuk have expressed an interest in taking over Alyeska Central School, the state's 64-year-old correspondence school.

Gov. Frank Murkowski proposed closing the school in mid-2003, but a compromise bill that passed the Legislature allowed the school to stay open one more year, giving the school's supporters time to try to arrange for a local district to operate the program.

The state Department of Education and Early Development has requested proposals from school districts to take over Alyeska starting in July 2004.

Bidders may propose to run Alyeska as a charter, correspondence school or other type of public school. Bids are due by Nov. 14, and the agency is scheduled to award a bid on Dec. 1.

Some parents and staff at Alyeska have formed the Academic Policy Committee to run the school as a charter. Charter schools are public schools that hire their own staff and have their own budget with some oversight from a school district.

The committee approached school districts in Juneau, the Yukon-Koyukuk area, Wrangell and the Delta-Greely area. Wrangell and Delta-Greely haven't held hearings, committee members said Tuesday.

But the Juneau School Board voted Tuesday to have district staff continue working with parents and staff from Alyeska in preparing a charter school application.

On Friday, the Yukon-Koyukuk School District, comprising 314 students in nine village schools, accepted Alyeska's application to be a charter school.

The Yukon-Koyukuk district's plan at this point is to keep the staff and materials warehouse in Juneau, Superintendent Christopher Simon told the Juneau Empire.

Simon said Alyeska teachers' expertise and the school's curriculum will help the district meet the annual improvement goals and teacher-qualification requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The kindergarten through grade 12 school, which features a curriculum created by Alyeska's teachers, expects about 650 students this year and has a staff of 15 teachers and 11 support staff.

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