Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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UCSD

  • The Unalaska City School District is running on a revised bus schedule due to a driver shortage.In a letter to parents and families sent out Dec. 5, Superintendent Jim Wilson said one of the island’s bus drivers is leaving town for a family emergency, and the district will have to get by with just one bus for now.
  • For the second time in two years, the Unalaska school board will have to go through the process of hiring a new superintendent. Jim Wilson — who stepped into the interim position about two months ago — announced his resignation at the school board’s November meeting. He’s worked for Unalaska City School District for more than 20 years, but said it’s time for a change.
  • For their very first match of the season, Unalaska hosted Lumen Christi, a private Catholic high school in Anchorage. And not only was it their first conference match, but it was also senior night for nine of the student athletes.Prior to the game, Peter said she was anticipating a lot of intense emotions from the athletes, especially from the older ones.“It's going to be interesting tonight, first game and senior night,” she said. “It's going to be a weird mix of emotions.”And she was right. Friends, family and fans packed the stands, while the team hugged one another, their tears and laughter carrying through the high school gym.
  • Like many school districts across Alaska, spikes in energy costs have Unalaska City schools looking at a major budget deficit. In combination with flatlined state funding, enrollment drops and increased teacher salaries, the island’s deficit is predicted to take the shape of around a-half-million dollars. Superintendent Jim Wilson presented a budget update to the Unalaska school board on Oct. 19 that includes a $535,000 anticipated deficit. This is the biggest deficit he’s seen in his 10 years as the high school principal, and likely one of the largest deficits the district has ever seen, he said.
  • Unalaska City School Board members voted unanimously to reelect Jolene Longo as board president Wednesday. Longo was elected to the board in 2020 and this will be her second year serving as president. The board also swore in newly elected members Bob Cummings and David Gibson.
  • The superintendent of Unalaska’s schools, Robbie Swint Jr., has resigned. The school board accepted his resignation in a unanimous vote at a meeting Wednesday night. According to a statement from the board, Swint is moving off the island to be closer to his family. Swint said he is sorry that he won’t be fulfilling his commitment to the district. He was just over a year into his three-year contract. But he feels that he wasn’t supported by the school board and wants to put his family’s needs first. “I don't want to say any derogatory thing against anyone,” Swint said. “I will just say I don't believe it was a good fit for me for a number of reasons. And so that's why I submitted my resignation.”
  • On this year’s ballot for Unalaska’s Municipal Election, there are two school board seats up for grabs. Bob Cummings is running unopposed for reelection for Seat C and David Gibson is running against incumbent Nicole Bice for Seat D.KUCB held a live forum for the candidates on Sept. 14. with Cummings and Gibson. Bice was unable to attend due to a work conflict.
  • Unalaska teachers will get an 8% bump in their salaries over the next three years, and they’ll also have fewer days with students.That comes after the Unalaska school board approved the new teacher contracts at a meeting Wednesday.The district will give teachers more money for professional development and more flexibility for sick leave, and new hires will get a larger stipend for moving to the community.
  • In a unanimous vote, City Council members granted the Unalaska School District its full funding request of roughly $5 million — a 6.5% increase from last year. The school district is expecting a drastic drop in student enrollment next fiscal year. And officials said that means they’ll be getting less money from the state. Overall, the projected budget is about $8 million — less than a 2% increase from last year. Still, the budget has a deficit of more than $200,000. District officials said a large part of that is due to trying to combat learning losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • While Alaska’s lawmakers consider increasing public school funding, the Unalaska City School District prepares for a significant decrease in revenue due to a drop in enrollment. And with that, the district is looking to the city for about $5 million to cover its budget for fiscal year 2023. At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Robbie Swint Jr. presented the Unalaska City School District’s proposed budget, which is based on an estimated enrollment of 345 students.