School Board begins summer with hopeful news for Pre-K programs
In their last meeting before a short summer break, members of the Nome School Board met to take care of a few items of business. Most notably, it looks as if Nome Public Schools will receive funding to support pre-kindergarten teaching positions at Nome Pre-School and Kawerak’s Head Start Program.
The funding comes in the form of a three-year grant that would offer $6 million. Conditions of the grant funding state that the district must also develop a plan to sustain the program funds once the grant cycle ends.
Superintendent Shawn Arnold said that the district would seek opportunities through community and corporate partnerships as well as potentially developing a trust. The district should know by mid-July whether they’ve been awarded the funds. Arnold is optimistic that the district will receive the funding. “NPS is in a good position to get the grant; we stayed in compliance [with grant guidelines],” Arnold said. “But if we weren’t to receive it, we would actively pursue another grant whose purpose if for building a pre-K program. We should know by July 15, but one of the catches is that it’s currently in the operation budget that the governor hasn’t signed yet.”
Arnold is confident Governor Bill Walker won’t target the funding for line-item veto.
In other school board news, the board voted to approve the purchase of a new vehicle, likely a van or an SUV, for the elementary school for student and community member transport needs. They also approved the estimated technology upgrades and replacement proposed by district Technology Director Jacob Phillips.
Reflecting on this year’s high school graduation ceremony, board member Keith Conger noted that the graduating class of 2016 had roughly half the number of students that same cohort had back in early elementary grades, which prompted the question, “What’s happened to the students?” Arnold said that while Nome-Beltz had the smallest graduating class in ten years this spring, 34 seniors, they did have one of the highest graduation rates in the state. Arnold agreed that a cohort analysis would be worthy but a big project, in terms of gathering the information necessary to explain student movement from year to year.
The board will meet again in a regular meeting on August 9.