Interim Haines Superintendent Rich Carlson will stay with the district through the rest of the school year. The school board approved an extension to his contract during its Tuesday meeting.
The school board voted unanimously to continue the search for a permanent superintendent after receiving a dozen applications by the initial deadline. Alaska Association of School Boards’ representative Timi Tullis is leading the search, and she said it would be wise to wait for a larger pool of applicants.
At Tuesday’s meeting, School Board President Anne Marie Palmieri said she was happy to extend Carlson’s contract.
“I think Rich has done a great job for us thus far and I think we are extremely lucky that we found somebody of Rich’s caliber that can jump in at the last minute and keep us moving forward,” Palmieri said.
There was just one hurdle to prolonging Carlson’s stay. He is currently retired, so the district needed permission from the Alaska Department of Retirement and Benefits to continue employing him. Palmieri says she received the OK from them, since the district is employing Carlson on a temporary basis. His contract now ends on June 30 2016.
Carlson is at the helm while the districts figures out how use test results from the new Alaska Measures of Progress exam. Districts around Alaska scored lower on the new standardized tests because of what education officials say are more rigorous standards.
Testing Coordinator Kim Cunningham talked about those results.
“We can’t compare them to previous tests because they’re based on different standards, but we can look at how we did compared to the rest of the state,” Cunningham said. “We’re doing well in Language Arts, 49 percent of students met the standards. Math, we’re struggling a little bit more. We’re still above the state average, but we’re not where we want to be.”
The school will send out individual student results to parents next week.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board heard a bit about students’ feelings on the new bell schedule. The high school student council conducted a survey about the schedule.
“Overall 57 percent don’t like the current schedule that we have and would like to go back to the old schedule,” said School Board student representative Autumn Gross.
Gross said about 75 percent of high schoolers responded to the survey. Of those students, she said more than 50 percent preferred the three-minute periods in between classes that were part of the old schedule, as opposed to the current schedule’s five minutes. A third said they missed having more advisory periods, which is time for students to study or meet with teachers. And the students were split into thirds about whether they liked, disliked or didn’t care about having all seven classes on Monday and Wednesday instead of Monday and Friday.
Principal Rene Martin said it doesn’t look like it will be possible to make any changes to the schedule next semester, but things could change next year.
“The staff is all on board with looking at the schedule for next year to and see what we can do. So I think that’s on all of our minds, staff and students.”
The school board also approved three part-time staff positions to provide tutoring and homework help to Migrant Education students. Those jobs will be paid for through federal grant funding.
The next school board meeting is January 12.