School Board discusses future

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) President of the Alaska School Board Association Norm Wooten led the Juneau Board of Education in a work session to discuss the long term reconfiguration of schools.

    School Board member Steve Whitney said he would like to maximize opportunities for students.  "I don't think we help kids plan for after high school."

    He said the board has tough facility questions to answer with declining enrollment and a lot of deferred maintenance projects.  In the past, Mr. Whitney has discussed the consolidation of schools.

    Board member Josh Keaton said he was opposed to school consolidation in the past.  He said there is a lack of a robust secondary education in Juneau.  "In these shrinking budget times we don't have the resources to do a lot of planning.  We have to determine whether it is worth going there."

    President Brian Holst said he was bullish on the future of Juneau and its economy.  He said he felt the high schools are doing better with higher graduation rates.

    Board member Jeff Short said he was not as optimistic of the future economy and predicted more student losses.  He said the district needs to plan for the future.

    Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller said Alaska is not alone in budget cuts.  He noted California schools are cutting way back in Avid, music and other programs.

    Wooten asked the Board members to describe what they perceive as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the school system.

    Some of the strengths listed by board members included committed, dedicated and caring employees, safe and open community schools, excellent educators, a prosperous, educated community, student diversity, equity for students, community engagement, choices for students, and high graduation rates. 

    Weaknesses listed by the board included communication, a lack of a shared vision at the school board level, dissatisfaction with special education programs, the trend of declining enrollment, not enough resources to provide the education students deserve and excessive testing.


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