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Student Enrollment Starts Strong At Unalaska's School District

Laura Kraegel

Enrollment at the Unalaska City School District is off to a strong start with 408 students. 

That's according to Superintendent John Conwell, who made the announcement last week at the school board's first session of the new school year.

"The count period is in October," said Conwell. "I'm really happy with where we're at with our enrollment."

The number of students during the annual count determines how much state funding the district receives.

This year, the school board has projected a total of 425 students, which would top last year's record-setting enrollment by four kids.

While current numbers indicate the district is in good shape for fiscal year 2020, Board President Frank Kelty said he's still worried about broader funding for public education in Alaska. 

At a recent meeting in Soldotna, Kelty said statewide officials predicted the threat of budget cuts to continue under the Dunleavy administration.

"Everybody that spoke to us at that meeting [of the Alaska Municipal League] was very concerned on everything that's going to come up next year," said Kelty. "It could be just as bad as this year was. Hopefully it won't impact education too bad."

Meanwhile, the board finalized three full-time teacher contracts. The district had to fill its last three vacancies over the summer, largely due to late resignations and difficulty recruiting.

The board also approved a contract for former instructor Katherine "Finn" Wayner to return as a part-time art teacher.

With staff and budget largely settled, the board is now preparing to negotiate the next round of teacher contracts with the teachers union. The board had planned to begin negotiations with the Unalaska Education Association  in the spring, but decided to wait until the state budget had passed.

The school board's next meeting is Sept. 12.  

Hope McKenney is a public radio news director, reporter, producer and host based in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska.
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