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School board Homer bound

School vouchers, pledge on tap

Posted: Monday, September 10, 2007

A number of controversial subjects, ranging from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to school vouchers, are up for consideration by school board members when they meet this evening in Homer.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is being asked to approve core resolutions of the Association of Alaska School Boards, which is encouraging school districts to incorporate the pledge as part of each school district's daily activities.

The AASB core resolutions also express opposition to school vouchers, stating that public funds should not be used to finance private, parochial or home-school programs.

The rationale for its opposition is that "public schools educate every child regardless of race, ability, religion, economic circumstance or special needs," and through elected school boards, public schools "are directly accountable to the citizens of the community for the expenditure of public funds."

In addition to being asked for local endorsement of the AASB state core resolutions, the Kenai Peninsula school board is being asked to consider reconstitution of the Alaska Public School Land Trust and joining with the Alaska PTA to ensure the trusts fulfill their original purpose.

The trust essentially reserves Sections 16 and 36 of each township for the support of common schools in Alaska, as mandated by federal statute.

The Kenai board also is being asked to implement and regularly evaluate its parent-involvement programs using national standards supported by the National School Boards Association and recognized as significant by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Other statewide resolutions the local board is being asked to support include changing compulsory attendance requirements from applying to all children from 7 to 16 years old to all children from 6 to the earlier of 18 years old or high school graduation.

The AASB also would like local support for changing the method for funding public education. The state board would like to see a long-term funding plan not pegged to the "variation in volatile resource markets."

A number of other AASB resolutions related to funding also are to be considered by the school board.

Under the heading "Child Advocacy," the statewide association seeks incentives for collaboration between schools and social service agencies to ensure children's educational needs are taken into account when other decisions about their lives are made by service providers.

The AASB also is seeking support of a resolution promoting the Alaska Children's Trust efforts to address "the tragic consequences of abuse, neglect, violence and crime" experienced by Alaska children.

The school board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Homer High School.

During a 4:45 p.m. work session, the board is slated to discuss an improvement strategy as a school district in "improvement" status with regard to federal programs.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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