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By Dan Rudy 

School board okays tech prep courses for high school


Members of Wrangell’s Public School Board okayed the first step in opening online vocational courses to Wrangell High School students.

At its Monday evening meeting, the board endorsed applications for Type M Teaching Certificates for George Bell and Robin Gilchrist.

“It’s another avenue to certification to allow a person to teach a class,” explained Superintendent Patrick Mayer. The two are affiliates of University of Alaska Southeast, and will instruct students in college-credited courses being offered through Alaska’s Learning Network.

“This is a huge benefit to us,” said Mayer. “They’re going to let our students take these classes for free.”

UAS will be picking up the course costs, with students only having to pay tech prep fees of $25 per credit. At the moment the available classes are Intro to Mining and AutoCad, which Mayer explained could create opportunities for future internships.

Board members also approved the first reading of policies 4219.21 and 4319.21, regarding classified staff and coaches’ code of ethics. The board also accepted on second reading board policies 5125.1, 6141, 6143, 6145 and 7012. These include policies relating to the release of directory information, curriculum development and evaluation, extracurricular and co-curricular activities and regulating communications to and between board members.

They also examined the first draft of next year’s budget, with figures projected on assumptions of costs, student numbers and state funding commitments.

“We’re going to leave it until we know more,” Wrangell Schools business manager Pam Roope explained afterward.

Among items in the proposed budget, the board discussed the possibility of creating a new technology assistant position.

“I think it is warranted. I think it’s overdue,” Mayer told them. He said adding the position would be a good investment, in light of increased tech usage in the curriculum. For example, this year 140 new iPads were ordered for Evergreen Elementary School students, and the first of several Alaska School Board Association-sponsored workshops to improve technological competency were held last fall.

“We want to maximize tech prep opportunities for students here,” said Mayer. Having a tech assistant on staff would build the schools’ capacity to maintain and get the most use out of its equipment.

In light of the position’s proposed $70,000 salary, board member Tammy Groshong expressed some concern about the potential impact on the school’s budget.

“We did build it into the budget,” Mayer explained. However, he said they will continue to make adjustments as more information becomes available from the Legislature. With sizable budget deficits to curb, the State may be looking at spending cuts in the upcoming fiscal year, but Mayer explained they will not know for sure until May.

“We’re optimistic but we always have to be cautious and able to react,” he said.

The board approved offering an extracurricular contract for Shelby Smith as co-cheer coach after the resignation of Dacee Gillen.

Speaking on behalf of one of the prospective applicants for that position during the discussion, Mikki Angerman questioned the hiring procedures used. The applicant – whose name was not allowed to be identified during the meeting – was supposedly dissuaded from applying because she held a daytime job. It was pointed out that Smith is also the sister of Stephanie Cartwright, the current cheer coach. Board chair Susan Eagle told Angerman she would make inquiries.

The board also offered Laurie Brown a pro-rated extracurricular contract for high school girls basketball, and approved the hiring of Courtney McCay as educational interpreter for the deaf.

Nine students from the Evergreen Elementary student council delivered a presentation to the school board, letting them know new clothing items sporting the school’s logo are available for sale. The eagle logo was designed by the students at the end of the 2013-14 school year. Offering board members each a free shirt of their choosing, the kids then challenged them to join the rest of the elementary school in wearing red every Friday.

The student council will tally up a “spirit percentage” each week, gauging student participation. They also want to engage in a spirit drive competition with the local middle and high schools, collecting box tops to raise money for either new gym equipment, a playground accessory or greenhouse.

Order forms are available at the school. For more information, contact Angerman or Renate Davies at 874-2321.


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