School Board elects new board president
Following up on former School Board President Sandy Martinson’s resignation last meeting, the board reorganized their leadership positions. Darlene Trigg was elected board president. Bob Metcalf was elected vice president. Nancy Mendenhall was nominated for treasurer and rejected the nomination. Marjorie Tahbone was elected treasurer.
Board member Bob Metcalf was sworn in again to the school board following his re-election on October 6.
Darlene Trigg received the Master Boardsmanship Designation certificate from the Alaska Association of School Boards.
“This is a recognition of your dedication and hard work,” Superintendent Jamie Burgess said as she presented the award.
In her superintendent report Burgess said progress is being made on research for a State Tribal Education Compacting School or Tribal School. This is part of a process where the state of Alaska and an Alaskan Native tribal entity reach an agreement recognizing the authority of a tribal entity to operate a K-12 school, according to the Alaska Department of Education.
King Island Native Community and the Village of Solomon are leading the initiative to establish a tribal school in Nome. Burgess said she has attended a meeting with members of the Alaska Department of Education who are involved in the process. Currently more meetings are set up for October between tribes and the department. Burgess said an update will be presented at the Alaska Federation of Natives Conference which takes place this week, from October 19 to 21.
Currently the tribes are exploring what a tribal education school would look like. If eventually approved, the school would be its own stand-alone school district receiving the same funding based off enrollment like other districts, employees would be employees of the tribes and the tribes will have a large hand in the requirements and curriculum. Burgess said in the meeting the entities involved talked about a one-to-three-year transition period of moving students out of the Nome Public School district into the tribal school. That would allow school districts to plan ahead for changes in staffing and other resources.
“We’re still quite a ways out before we would actually see what that would look like for the five districts involved,” Burgess said. “Ourselves and Ketchikan are probably the smallest of the districts, the others are in Anchorage.”
The process is beginning, conversations are happening and the board will continue to be updated as Burgess attends meetings, she said.
There were no comments made during the public comment period.
Administrator reports followed, beginning with Assistant Principal of Nome Elementary School Nicholas Settle who said the open house hosted on September 26 was a great success. So far, the kids have read 200 books in September according to the reading logs.
Attendance is at 90.5 percent so far, which is a 2.8 percent increase from last year. Board member Metcalf commented that the attendance is great and asked what they were doing differently. Letters were sent out to parents at the beginning of the year and the importance of attendance was emphasized at every parent engagement night. Every classroom is also tracking attendance and the numbers are being posted in the hallways, the plan is to celebrate every attendance milestone reached, Settle said.
Anvil City Science Academy Principal Lisa Leeper said the annual campout was a great success.
Attendance at ACSA has been around 97 to 98 percent so far this year, Leeper said.
Last week a few scientists visiting the region came to the school. Sikuliaq scientists who are gathering ocean data also came to the school, which fits in with the themes the kids are studying this year, Leeper said.
In Nome-Beltz Middle High School Principal Teriscovkya Smith’s report she noted the vape sensors have been triggered more than 45 times in the month of September. Smith said she continues to write to state politicians and companies who produce the vape devices. Smith is working with the administration to organize a community conversation regarding the issue.
“The vaping has been a regular in my board reports and exclusionary discipline hasn’t helped at all,” Smith said. “We’re partnering with CAMP, we’re partnering with Youth Court and looking at solutions.”
Metcalf said to Smith that he appreciated hearing about ongoing work to prevent substance abuse among students. “I’m sure some of those are hard conversations, but having those is important to do so thank you for that,” Metcalf said.
Board member Tahbone said it was good to see all the student sports being highlighted in Smith’s report.
Director of Technology Jim Shreve in his report to the board explained how the district is adopting Artificial Intelligence into their technology to be utilized by staff and students. “Rather than fighting or blocking the rapidly growing capabilities of Artificial Intelligence in the technology realm, NPS Technology Department is embracing and leveraging AI,” Shreve wrote.
One way they’re utilizing AI is through a Google extension to create Google slides with AI. Shreve also distributed a technology app called Brisk AI for NBS staff. The app has features like detection of AI usage in students’ writings, helping create lesson plans, adjust reading level for different writings to fit student needs and provide preliminary feedback on assignments. Online training for staff was provided.
“You’ve explained to me better than I’ve ever heard before how it [AI] can be used to help us,” Metcalf said to Shreve.
Genevieve Hollins, the contracted chief financial officer for NPS, included in her financial report a list of projects ranging from those currently funded to ones anticipated for as far out as 2029. Those items total over $4 million in expenses to maintain the buildings. “Anywhere from carpet replacement to roof replacements,” Hollins said about the list.
Board member Mendenhall commented on the report saying the buildings getting older is a concern the board is aware of but state leadership isn’t taking it seriously and NPS isn’t getting the help it needs. “I think it would be helpful if you addressed it so the public can understand that we don’t have this big pile of money sitting there that we can just switch over, we have a crisis building each year because of our aging buildings and we have to have these buildings. If we had time to put something out like that,” Mendenhall said.
Burgess said it would be possible to do something like that to help the public understand how budgeting works.
The board took action by approving the drafts of resolutions from the Association of Alaskan School Boards supporting the development of tribal schools through the state compacting process and ensuring the English learner identification process is modified to reduce classification of Alaska Native students who have some measure of an indigenous language spoken in their home as English learners.