Wiseman School closed due to low enrollment

Posted: Friday, November 08, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Yukon-Koyukuk School District this week closed the Wiseman school, citing low enrollment.

At the end of the October count period, the school had nine students, one below the state cutoff for funding, according to Superintendent Christopher Simon. The district opened the school in the Dalton Highway community at the beginning of the year with eight students, he said. It will be closed for the remainder of the school year.

''We were in close weekly contact with the community members of Wiseman and tried to keep the school open,'' Simon told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''We believed that another kid was going to be transferring to the school, but it didn't work out.''

Under state law, schools must have at least 10 students to receive funding as a standalone school. Unlike urban areas, the district is funded almost entirely by the state. The district's director of instruction will be in Wiseman today meeting with parents, Simon said.

''We are going to be designing correspondence courses for the students there,'' Simon said.

''Minimally, they will each be receiving a computer if they choose and a full array of correspondence classes and a minimum of once-a-month contact with the teachers.''

Up until the 1999-2000 school year, Wiseman didn't have a school and all of the students there were enrolled in the district's Northwind correspondence program. During the 1999-2000 school year, a group of local residents started the Wiseman Charter School. That lasted until February 2001, when the school board then voted to revoke the school's charter and took over running the school.

Last school year, 15 students were enrolled at the Wiseman school. However, those numbers fell to four by the end of the school year.

This is the second school the Yukon-Koyukuk School District has closed this year, Simon said. The district closed the Bettles school after three days because only one student showed up.

The district has about 450 students in its remaining nine village schools.

Simon said the district will continue to monitor the number of children in the community. If the numbers climb, the school could reopen, he said. ''We are going to go on a year-by-year basis.''

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