Anchorage School Board passes plan to make up for snow days

Anchorage School Board passes plan to make up for snow days
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 8:51 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School Board voted Monday on an item to approve 2022-2023 calendar adjustments due to weather and went over the first steps of the Abbott Loop transition plan.

The item passed unanimously and will remedy the seven days missed due to weather events. According to the district, it will effectively:

  • Cancel the parent-teacher conferences scheduled for Feb. 22 and 23, with both days becoming full days of instruction.
  • Cancel the teacher in-service day scheduled for Feb. 24, adding one full day of instruction.
  • Add 30 minutes to the school day for all grade levels beginning Jan. 30 and running through March 9.

In total, the adjustments will make up approximately five days of school for elementary and middle school students and four and a half days for high school students. Public testimony brought out community speakers for comment on the issue, some in opposition to adjusting the calendar year due to impacts on their business.

“Adding days to the end of the year would be a much easier thing for us as a business and community to work around, than five weeks of totally rearranging our schedules to try to accommodate the changes,” Alaska Rock Gym employee Ted Phelps said.

“If you choose to adopt these schedule changes, you’ll be depriving these children of these enriching experiences that promote healthy growth and development,” added fellow Alaska Rock Gym employee Luke Halter.

The board also discussed one part of its Abbott Loop transition plan in supporting students, staff, and families. The school has been recommended by the district for demolition, but not before being potentially used as a place to relocate the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School.

“The Abbott Loop community is at the forefront of my mind because it’s going to take strong coordination and planning to ensure Abbott Loop families and staff receive robust levels of support during this time,” district Superintendent Dr. Jharrett Bryantt said. “We’ll take time to brief the board on our initial progress and some of what is currently being planned to support that effort.”

Bryantt said he wants the community to know early on that this work is taking place with the first step of the plan being discussed now for an easier transition for all involved.

There are four priorities under this plan:

  • Supporting students and families
  • Supporting staff and human resources
  • Logistics
  • Moving and receiving schools

The move will be a collaboration between three schools: Abbott Loop, Trailside and Kasuun Elementary.

Student nutrition programs will also be working with the schools to support family needs through counseling, specialist support, preschool and special education. Food security has been a consistent concern at the town halls, as the district wants to make sure that all kids will be receiving adequate meals. It also wants to assure there’s an inviting and welcoming environment at both of the receiving schools. ASD maintains that all current Abbott Loop Elementary staff will receive a job placement for the 2023-2024 school year.

The board stated Monday that there will be approximately 200 students rezoned to Kasuun Elementary and approximately 40 students rezoned to Trailside Elementary, pushing student population numbers to 466 and 450, respectively.

“Aside from being heartbreaking that we have to do it, I do believe it’s going to be great for our kids, and that’s the message I think ... we want to make sure that families hear,” ASD Board President Margo Bellamy said.

The Abbott Loop transition plan is an ongoing discussion and process, according to the school board.

The board has yet to formally vote on the Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget, which must be approved before Feb. 21.