After another go-round in the policy committee, the proposed graduation requirement changes came back to the Delta/Greely School Board for discussion at last Thursday’s business meeting. Policy Committee Chair Barbara Parker said the names of the two diplomas have been changed to Standard (22 credits) and 4x4 (24 credits with four in each of the four cores: English, math, science, and social studies). Another suggestion for the higher-credit diploma is Diploma of Distinction. 

At the last school board meeting, members and some individuals expressed concerns about dropping the requirement that students take biology. In response, the committee proposed that two credits must come from “core” sciences: general science, biology, chemistry, physics, earth science, or physics in context.

The committee also dropped the GPA requirement for the 4x4 diploma, simply stating that no courses with a grade less than a C would count toward graduation.

The committee requests that the changes be implemented for the Class of 2019. The graduation requirement change will be on the board’s May 3 work session agenda. A special meeting following that work session will be held to take action on any graduation requirement changes.

The diploma document with changes highlighted is on the school district’s website for public comment – dgsd.us

Also from the policy committee was the revalidation of the district’s memorial policy.

The family of a Delta High School graduate who served in the military petitioned the district for a memorial for their student to be placed in the school. Board Member Rebecca Wilburn said the committee reviewed the family’s request in light of the policy and considered whether or not the district policy should be rewritten. After lengthy discussion, the committee recommends the memorial policy stand as written; it should not be the school district’s responsibility to create and maintain memorials. There are other avenues to honor deceased loved ones through recognitions or scholarships in the name of the deceased.

The policy committee drew a distinction between a plaque that recognizes recipients of a memorial scholarship or award and a memorial of a specific person.

 “The request and intent was appreciated by the district,” Wilburn explained. “We would like to continue dialog about other avenues that we could meet intent of family.”

The board also heard a presentation about the Delta Junior Nordic Ski Club, which has been active at Delta Elementary since 2011.

Brandy Baker, program manager of the ski club, outlined the club’s activities. The club is very popular with students, she said. In 2018, there were 64 students involved, which was all the club could handle.

“We max out every year, and I have to turn kids away,” Baker lamented.

The club’s goat is to teach youth to cross-country ski, but along the way there are several other skills the students pick up. Balance, coordination, leadership, teamwork, healthy lifestyle, cooperation, and respect are among life skills learned, Baker reported.

The most difficult hurdle is that the club lacks equipment storage space at the elementary school, which means they must move skis and poles from a storage shed to the school. This is hard on equipment, and Baker said she is looking for any avenue that could provide a dedicated storage building at DES.

Assistant Superintendent Bill Burr said district schools have been participating in the state’s newest assessment, called PEAKS. The district chose to use the digital test, and feedback from the state, local principals, and the technology department are that things have mostly been smooth. Most Alaska school districts chose to test electronically. Superintendent Laural Jackson noted that more homeschool parents are opting out of the state tests, which has been a growing trend.

Two budget considerations came up in staff reports.

The glycol in DHS heating system will need to be changed next year. The projected cost is approximately $50,000-$60,000. Assistant Superintendent Burr said he is looking closely at the maintenance budget to find a way to fund the need.

Superintendent Jackson reported that the district’s special education grants will be reduced by approximately $15,000 next year. This will affect general fund expenditures, as spending on special education may not be reduced; therefore, the $15,000 will have to come from the general fund. 

The board approved the following action items:

Delta Elementary School hires: Miranda Hairston as counselor; Robin Klein as teacher.

2018-2019 Gerstle River School calendar. 

Adopt science, health, and physical education curricula. 

The next board meeting is a work session on May 3. Topics of discussion will include the first reading of policies and next year’s budget. A special business meeting will immediately follow the work session for action on new high school graduation requirements and to interview new student representatives.