Some of Kodiak’s local students are getting hands on experience in real world research these days. The Kodiak Island Borough School District has recently partnered with NASA and other organizations to help monitor earthquake forecasting sensors with the hopes of someday being able to predict when and where earthquakes might occur.
Early Friday morning, a group of four eager Kodiak High School students sit in front of lap tops in the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s conference room. Strewn around them are engineering sketches, designs, and scribbled numbers and notes. They aren’t skipping class – in fact, due to a district-wide teacher in-service, school wasn’t even scheduled that day, or the two days prior. And while many of their classmates were probably still sleeping in, these four were hard at work, on their own time, communicating with NASA scientists and workin g to make earthquake forecasting a feasible reality for Kodiak, and the world.
“We’re doing this for school, but we’re also doing this for the scientific community. And it’s like real contributions – it’s not just like a science project that somebody’s already done. We’re actually innovating, we’re actually putting forth results and things that people can use that can help the world.”
That’s Junior Richie McKinney, one of the four lead students partaking in Trillium Learning’s American Bridge Project – an initiative that promotes real time, real world projects with big name partners and school districts around the country. In this case, KIBSD is working with NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, Intelesense Technologies and the European Space Agency to help collect data from the world’s first two Global Earthquake Forecasting System Sensing Platforms, which were placed on the island last month. One platform was put in Old Harbor Village, and the second one is visible on the roof of the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium in Kodiak. Continue reading
The founders of the Kodiak District Parent-Teacher-Student Association, or PTSA, will be on KMXT’s Talk of the Rock Tuesday afternoon discussing their organization and what they hope to accomplish through the Kodiak Community Education Alliance.
Ron Gibbs, himself a retired teacher, is the vice-president of the Kodiak Community Education Alliance, which is formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. He says a Parent Teacher Student Association differs from a PTA, in that it’s area of concern is the entire school district, and not just individual schools.
“There’s been a lot of changes come down the pipes with education, and that’s where there’s a lot of frustration and confusion and questions about the new grading system, evaluation process. A lto of these are coming as mandates from the state or the legislature and so as the district works to incorporate those changes, there’s been some gaps in that communication where people have question and they don’t necessarially know where to get answers, and that’s where we’re trying to help out with that.”
Erik Linschied, president of the Kodiak Community Education Alliance, is also a retired teacher. He outlined the five goals the group has at this point.
“When we started talking to the community it kind of boiled down to a couple different things. There are five things. One is that there is just communication with everybody in the community, along with the school board and central office. And then the second is how we support school board communications – that was another concern. And then, a culture of trust, and that’s number three, number four is understanding the grading system, and number five is promoting teamwork.”
In regards to goal number 1, Gibbs said the policy regarding free communication between the public and the school board members is already being address.
“We brought that up as a concern, and so the board, they way they work with that is they have a policy review committee. And they did a rewrite on it. This process has been going on for eight months. And they did a rewrite, and really put to rest most of those concerns. It was a good rewrite. It went from the beginning opening draft saying, “Staff members, parents and community members should submit comments to board through the superintendant. And vice versa. Now, it’s, “Individual communication between board members and community are expected.”
Linschied and Gibbs both see the new language as an improvement, but they would like to see it have a better defined protocol for when and to whom private communication to a school board member are shared. In that vein, Gibbs says he’s asking for a postponement on adopting the policy.
“We are also requesting that the board defer action on this until next month, so that the new board member has a chance to come up to speed and learn about that and hear what’s going on. It’s been going on for eight months, so it would be helpful to let him have a chance to assimilate that, too.”
You can hear the complete conversation with Gibbs and Linschied on this week’s Talk of the Rock.
The State of Alaska has released its school rankings for the last academic year. The Alaska School Performance Index, or ASPI, grades schools from one to five stars on several criteria, including academic achievement, attendance rate, and for high schools, graduation rate and college career readiness. Improvement year-over-year is also graded.
Two schools in the Kodiak Island Borough district were awarded five stars. They are North Star and Peterson elementary schools. North Star had an ASPI score of 94.18 and Peterson had 97.04.
North Star had a proficiency ranking of 93.94 percent in reading, 88 percent in writing and 84 percent in math. Peterson had scores of 96.34 in reading, 96.34 in writing and 92.68 in math.
Four village schools, which were only awarded three stars. All had students from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Larsen Bay School had an overall score of 75.44, which is a combination of the 66.67 which was measured in kindergarten to 8th grade, and the 97.38 from 9th through 12th grade.
Ouzinkie School’s overall performance score was 74.1. It’s K-through-8 score was 75.86 and its high school score of 65.64.
Akhiok School had an ASPI score of 72.57 overall, composed of the K-to-8 score of 72.92 and the high school’s 72.12.
Old Harbor’s grade- and middle- school score was 85.45, while its high school score was 45.98.
All the other schools in the district received four stars, with ASPI scores ranging from 85.62 at Chiniak School to 93.17 at Karluk.
All one-, two-, and three-star schools are required to implement improvement plans. The plans also are required for four-star and five-star schools that have not had at least 95 percent student participation in state assessments; or whose graduation rate has declined from the previous year; or which have not met their Annual Measureable Objectives for two consecutive years.
This is the second year for the Alaska-developed ASPI accountability and support system, which replaced the federal Adequate Yearly Progress system under No Child Left Behind.
Kodiak Superintendent Stuart McDonald was scheduled to give an update to the school board at a work session last night via remote link because he’s in Juneau at the moment. We’ll be talking with him about the Alaska School Performance Index later this week.
Kodiak High School will have a new principal this fall, but it won’t be an unfamiliar face. Chris Aguirre actually began his administrative career in Kodiak back in 2005 when he moved to the Island for a year to be the district’s career and technical education director.
“Which was just a great start and actually helped me tremendously in my career.”
A family issue made Aguirre move to New York after that first year in Kodiak, where he spent roughly eight years working in public education. He was the founding principal of New York City’s City Polytechnic High School of Engineering, Architecture and Technology – an early college high school that provided college credits to graduating students.
“And when I got through my first graduating class and wanted to actually spend a little more time with my wife and family I went into higher education. And I had a great experience but decided that where I below was in public ed.” Continue reading
The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly passed a $34 million budget for FY 2015 during its regular meeting Thursday night.
Borough Manager Bud Cassidy said that revenues for the borough should be stable in 2015, but added that expenditures have increased.
“There’s increases in salary due to the classification and compensation study. There’s an additional position in the managers office, there’s a half time economic development position, or contract position.”
Also included in the budget is a larger travel budget for assembly members, which Assemblyman Aaron Griffin said is to make sure the assembly will visit the borough’s outlying villages and get more involved in what’s happening in rural communities.
“We took a look at how much contact we were having with our village communities and quite frankly we were lacking and we’ve been lacking for a long time. We are a large borough, it’s really incredible the amount of square mileage that we encompass. It takes money to get out and visit our remote communities.” Continue reading
During its regular meeting last night the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly approved almost $11 million dollars for the school district for the FY 2015 school year.
As borough manager Bud Cassidy explained, $10,625,600 of that will be generated from personal property taxes collected by the borough according to its mill rate.
“Along with this is an additional $280,000 in vehicle registration tax, collected by the borough, but mandated to go to the schools. So the total contribution to the school district by the borough of in cash and in kind services is $10,905,600.”
During a borough budget presentation at the beginning of last night’s meeting Finance Director Karl Short said the school district asked for $11,171,800 for FY 2015, which is an increase of about $521,000 over the current budget. Continue reading