Nome Public Schools re-defines its mission statement
The April 12 Nome School Board meeting was kicked off with the announcement of the newly-adopted Nome Public Schools Mission Statement: “Nome Public Schools in active partnership with families and the community educates and inspires students to be successful and responsible global citizens in an environment that represents rich cultural diversities and local traditions.”
Student of the month awards for February and March were presented, as well as the Teacher of the Month.
At the Jr. High, February student of the month, Savannah Teesateski is “an excellent student who performs well in class” has a positive attitude, and excellent attendance record.
The High School student of the month for February is Katie Tomter. She graciously gave up study hall to be aide to Mrs. Perrigo, which has been a huge help to the school. She is described as courteous, provides superior clerical support, and is polite, positive, diligent and humble.
The Jr. High March student of the month, Brandon Outwater, is “very deserving.” Although quiet and shy, he does his work with confidence and does his best at all times. Of special note, there has been a focus on “kindness” at the Jr. High recently and Brandon exemplifies this sentiment. He “makes school a friendlier place.”
The March High School Student of the Month is Terry Ruud, and is described by teachers as “the most gracious and respectful person in the school.” Not only is she described as friendly, positive, and mindful, she is also an outstanding math student. Terry was acknowledged for coming early to school to take advantage of additional services and shows initiative and leadership in doing so.
The Teacher of the Month, Jennifer Schreve, is noted to be involved in committees throughout the community as well as within the school district. Not only is Mrs. Shreve a favorite amongst students, she can be likely be named the school’s “Happiest Teacher of the Month” as well. The fifth and sixth graders are working on a Happiness Project, for which they must identify someone that they think is “happy” to be interviewed for long-term happiness “tips.” Twenty students choose Mrs. Shreave for this project.
The fifth draft of the school budget did not see much change except for reduction in supplies, travel costs and removal of textbooks from school sites. Superintendent Shawn Arnold reports a “self-imposed” travel ban for his office, and there have been other reductions in travel district-wide, as well as in supplies throughout the budget and are trying to do much better about use of resources. Reductions total $90,000. These reductions do not include any staffing cuts. $70,000 was removed from FY16 budget to be left out for FY17 textbook purchases, and has not been included in the FY17 budget.
At the state level, there has been some discussion about removing language that would leave districts responsible for increases in their responsibility to pay into the teacher and personnel retirement programs (TRS and PRS), though at this time whether or not those increases will be imposed is “anyone’s best guess.” There was also discussion of removing a $50 increase in BSA (Base Student Allocation) included in the education budget, despite a lack of increases to this amount for nearly a decade.
Superintendent Shawn Arnold remains “optimistic” that the legislature will not require school districts to shoulder increases to their TRS and PRS contributions that will impact teacher and staff positions, and will consider the importance of the BSA increase. In open discussion, board member Jennifer Reader urged members of the board and the public to write letters to the legislature in regards to SB 207/209, which propose the increases to the TRS and PRS that the district is required to provide to employees of the school district. If passed, these increases will result in cuts to employee positions, jeopardizing the quality of education.
The City of Nome was “pleasantly surprised” by the fourth draft of the school budget, as the city revenue from the state is expected to have its own cuts to address. In the school board special work session scheduled for April 19, a final version of the budget will be prepared for presentation to the city, and a May 9 joint work session is scheduled with the city. May 29 is the final approval by the Nome Common Council of the budget.
In the superintendent report, the disruption and cancellation of the Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) test was addressed. The call made by Alaska Dept. of Education and Early Development Interim Commissioner Susan McColley to cancel to administration of AMP met with relief on the part of the superintendent’s office. Shawn Arnold is on record with the state board to be in opposition to this state testing as it not the best use of instructional time nor a good tool to assess students, so is pleased that these are indefinitely suspended.
In related news, the Alaska Board of Education is conducting interviews for a new commissioner in June.
In partnership with Nome Eskimo Community the Safe Routes to School grant will roll out this summer. Project improvements to school walkability and safety will include: crosswalks at Fifth Ave. and K St., additional asphalt, reflective signs, enforcement of decreased traffic speed, LED light replacements on side streets, and remote timer for flashing lights to assist visibility at the Elementary School.
In the strategic planning process, a negotiated agreement with the Nome Education Association was mediated with “intraspace bargaining,” resulting in smooth and friendly negotiations. Shawn Arnold indicated he was very pleased with the process and outcome, and “appreciates” the NEA in assisting in making this smooth process.
The board approved a renewal of their GCI contract. A whopping $272,000 monthly rate is cut by 90 percent each month thanks to the Broadband Assistance Grant, and enables the district to operate broadband at a 70mb/sec rate rather than the 10mb rate that it was bogged down with previous to the BAG program.
Several upcoming events of note in the school district include a May 4 “Spaghetti with the Superintendent” dinner. Shawn Arnold reports a turnout of 275 at the March Family Night. The May meeting is an opportunity for both adult and student members of the community to have a dialog about how things are going in the district and what is being planned in the future. In the spirit of the fifth and sixth grade happiness project, Arnold encourages the community to bring their curiosity and happiness to the upcoming May 4 event to be held at 6 p.m. at the Elementary School.
Student representative Sam Cross announced that the 2016 Senior High Prom will be Friday, May 13.
The Second Annual Teacher of the Year award, as well as Education Support Specialist the Year will occur Friday, May 6. This “mini celebration” will acknowledge teachers with longevity awards and all nominees. The deadline is this Friday, and nominations can be completed on-line on the Nome School District website.