At its meeting on Wednesday, the Unalaska City School Board accepted the resignation of chair member Josh Good at seat D.
It was the final meeting for both Good—who is moving off island—and board member Cherry Tan, whose seat is up for election on Oct. 6.
The board accepted Good's resignation as of Sept. 21 and will develop a plan to fill the vacant seat at its meeting next month.
Superintendent John Conwell said this is a good opportunity for any community members who think they may want to serve, but are unsure of the commitment. The person appointed to seat D would only serve one year and would then have to stand for reelection for the following year, as appointed members do not fulfill the remainder of the term, but simply occupy the seat until the following election in October.
"If you're not 100 percent sure about serving in an elected position, this is a good way to dip your toes in the water," said Conwell. "You're only really committing to a year—and it's not the full two years of the term."
Meanwhile, the board swore in its 2020 student representative, Natalie Buttner. Buttner was elected through the board's first ever virtual student representative election.
And during his report, Conwell addressed this school year's funding as it relates to enrollment. He said there are currently 386 students enrolled in Unalaska's schools—24 of whom are participating in the district's home-based program. That's down about six percent from last year. The official end date for the student count, which will determine funding, is Oct. 23.
"Current state law allows school districts that lose five percent or more in enrollment to maintain the funding level of the previous year," said Conwell. "UCSD's current loss of enrollment compared to FY20 is approximately 6.3 percent—of course that could change after the count period."
Conwell said the funding formula is complicated. But, he said, if the district's adjusted daily membership drops by five percent or more from one fiscal year to the next, the district can use last year's enrollment as a base to offset the decrease.
Conwell added that, on the other hand, there has been talk of lobbying the state legislature to also provide relief to school districts that are experiencing enrollment losses of less than five percent from the previous year. Even such a small loss in enrollment can have significant effects on funding, said Conwell.
Finally, Conwell provided a recap of the COVID-19 Advisory Committee's meeting from Sept. 9. He said that certain members of the committee expressed concerns about the level of preparedness should Unalaska's schools need to move into home-based learning. Some of the concerns included access to internet and the loss of student-teacher connection.
"The committee discussed the possibility of cohorts of students being allowed into the schools for in-person instruction should the city need to shift into the high-risk scenario due to community spread of coronavirus," said Conwell. "Our clinic representative indicated that cohorts of students might be allowed [to attend school] in the high-risk scenario, and that she would do more research on that question."
Over the next month, Conwell said the committee will be considering these and other possible issues and solutions. The committee will meet again on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m. He said the meeting will be open to the public.