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UCSD Celebrates Record Enrollment, Strong PEAKS Test Scores

Laura Kraegel

Enrollment is up to a record high at the Unalaska City School District.

Superintendent John Conwell recently announced that 417 students are studying at the island's schools.

That's nine more than at this time last year — and 42 more than in fiscal year 2016, when the district struggled with an unexplained dip.

"It appears that our enrollment has stabilized and may even be growing some," said Conwell at the school board's Sept. 20 meeting. "I'd love to see us [stay] above 415 this year. That would be a record for us."

Conwell said growing enrollment is "very encouraging," especially as the state's official count period runs Oct. 1-26.

More students mean more state funding, which would help the district ride out its budget shortfall. This year, UCSD is planning to dip into savings to close the $210,000 gap.

While school officials wait to see if enrollment softens that blow, they're already celebrating Unalaska's results from the most recent standardized test.

"You can see that we're ahead of the state," said Joanna Hinderberger, the district's test coordinator.

Hinderberger said UCSD students scored above average in math, science, and English language arts on the PEAKS assessment, which stands for "Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools."

They also averaged higher scores than the previous year in math and English, while UCSD ranked in the top five for both subjects out of more than 50 districts across the state.

While Hinderberger said many factors contributed to the strong results, School Board President Tammy Fowler said families deserve a lot of credit.

"Our community holds education in high esteem," said Fowler Pound. "They expect the people in these [school] buildings to do their jobs and educate their children, and I think people take that to heart."

The school board's next meeting is for Oct. 18.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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