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By Dan Rudy 

Coffee and curriculum: School Board holding informal sessions


Building on an idea fielded during last month’s meeting, on Monday members of the Wrangell Public School Board decided they will begin participating in “coffee meetings” held with the public.

Scheduled for a half hour before their regular business, the sessions would give

parents, teachers and other community members the opportunity to discuss educational issues, trends and problems with the board in an informal atmosphere. While no actions would be taken as a result of these sessions, they would open up discourse in ways currently unavailable during the formal meetings. The only topics that would not be taken up are those related to personnel.

Board president Susan Eagle explained the sessions would be up to individual members to participate in if available, and would be held so long as a workshop or other function was not already scheduled for the 6 p.m. time slot.

“I would still like to aim for once a month,” Eagle said.

Aleisha Mollen recommended holding an additional

morning session one Saturday a month, to give people unable to attend on Mondays a chance to meet with the board.

“I think other members of the public would benefit,” she explained.

After talking it over, the board decided the second Saturday of each month would be best because it invariably falls before the regularly-scheduled formal meeting. The informal session would be held at 9 a.m. in the elementary school, Room 101.

“I really like the idea of doing the coffee with the board,” commented Ryan Howe, a special education teacher. He was among the group of parents and school staff who had encouraged such meetings in October.

Monday’s meeting opened with a presentation by members of the Evergreen Elementary Student Council. Helped along by new counselor and council advisor Jenna Turner, the

student representatives explained what their council does and what responsibilities they are learning through the program.

In its regular business, the school board approved sanction of a new track and field program, to be held late in the school year alongside baseball and softball.

The school district’s sanction will allow students interested in track and field to participate in meets endorsed by the Alaska School Activities Association. This year students would be able to participate in running events if they wish, though field activities like the high jump would be unavailable due to a lack of equipment or facilities to train with.

“We’re going to be excluding ourselves from some of those activities,” school superintendent Patrick Mayer said. Runners would make use of the resources currently available to them, running on roadsides and practicing at the playing field.

Starting in March, their

season would be a relatively short one, and because Wrangell lacks a track and supporting facilities it would not expect to host any meets. Due to concerns an additional activity might draw students away from already-struggling baseball and softball programs, it was recommended that practices be coordinated to allow for joint enrollment. Though getting off to a spartan start, Mayer explained allowing the program would be a good opportunity to gauge student interest.

Fundraising for a track team would also be sanctioned, allowing resources to be collected and directed toward the gear and travel necessary to compete. Otherwise, costs would be paid for by team members. The team’s participation in meets would be arranged by the school system’s activities director and runners would be supported by volunteer coaches. Volunteers would have to undergo background checks and meet the same criteria as paid staff, and would be covered by the schools’ insurance policy.

Board members approved extracurricular contracts for Alyssa Allen and Jessica Whitaker for middle school volleyball, Jennifer and Matthew Gerald for freshman class co-advisors, Toni Marie Guggenbickler for sophomore class advisor, and Turner. Contracts for paraprofessionals Hannah Armstrong, Lynde Brown and Danielle Easterly were also approved.

The next meeting is tentatively set for Dec. 21 at the elementary school, at 6:30 p.m.


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