School Board members looked at the proposed calendar for next school year. One of the big changes would be an early-release day on Thursday. Students would get out of school at 1:30 p.m., and the other four days of the week would be slightly extended.
This would eliminate teacher inservice days during the school year. Staff would be able to use the weekly afternoon time for their professional development trainings and meetings.
“I think it’s just going to be so powerful to have these kind of mini inservices each week,” said teacher Lisa Andriesen. “I think we’re just going to get so much more done, it’s just gonna be so good and powerful.”
Some of the school board members questioned why the early release day couldn’t be on Friday. Because of travel for sports and other activities, fewer students tend to be in school on Fridays.
“Friday is not going to be our most effective thinking time,” Andriesen said. “If we want to really optimize this time, we want to do it when the staff feels they’ll be most effective. And I think that was a real driving force.”
The school board decided not to make any changes to the calendar until they received public input. They voted to move it into the 30-day public comment period.
The board heard from Superintendent Ginger Jewell about three new positions she wants to hire for. Two of the positions – a special education director and a technology specialist – could be mostly grant-funded. The other position is an elementary science and math teacher.
Jewell didn’t include job descriptions or projected expenses in the board packet, and board members said they couldn’t make a decision without that information.
“We’ve asked over and over for a very clear, transparent budget,” Lisa Schwartz said. “And it’s really important that we see what we’re making decisions about. We just really need to be clear about where money’s coming from.”
Jewell said she would provide that information at a Thursday budget workshop.
The board tentatively approved funds for two staff members to travel to a teacher recruitment fair in Portland in April.
Right now, the school is advertising for several open positions: a secondary special education teacher, a reading specialist, a music teacher, a sixth grade teacher and a school counselor. Jewell says the district might need to actively recruit in order to get high-quality applicants for those jobs.
The board decided not to vote on reopening Mosquito Lake School since there aren’t enough students. The school closed last year because enrollment dropped below ten, which disqualified it from state funding. A group of upper highway residents called Friends of Mosquito Lake School and Community Center announced late last month that they weren’t able to find ten students interested in attending the school this year.
“We need to do something to preserve that facility in the community,” Friends of Mosquito Lake member Dana Hallett said at the meeting. “We don’t need to just give it up, turn the heat off and walk away from it.”
The group is working on a proposal to ask the Haines Borough for funds to open the school building for community use.
After some discussion, the school board decided to write a general letter of support that could be included in the group’s proposal. School board member Brian Clay volunteered to be a liaison to Friends of Mosquito Lake as they work on strategies to reopen the school.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for April 7th. There is a budget workshop Thursday at 7 p.m.