The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Parents asked to weigh in on school changes

Early middle school and four-day school week under consideration


Valdez Star Archive Photo

Superintendent Jacob Jensen discussing points at a meeting for a new middle school in 2010.

Parents, teachers and even students will be given the opportunity to let the board of education know their opinions on big changes proposed by school administrators. The board will hear public opinion on a proposal to move next school year’s class of sixth graders to the current Gilson Jr. High during its upcoming budget hearings and the date is set for the meeting regarding the proposal to switch all students to a four-day school week.

The board of education will hold the special meeting regarding the four-day school week proposal on April 30.

“It’s going to be an open forum,” said Flynn Stuparich, district administrative assistant. “So people can talk about it” with the board.

It will be held at the cafeteria of Valdez High School from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Parents and educators hoping to weigh in on the proposal to move the incoming sixth grade class from Hermon Hutchens to Gilson Jr. High in the 2012/13 school year should attend the board’s next budget hearing. That meeting is set for Saturday, March 31, at the district office. The hours are from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The matter was brought before the board of education during its regular meeting Monday night.

District superintendent Jacob Jenson first broached the topic to move the sixth graders to the junior high a few weeks back as a budget boosting measure which will save the district $116,000 in the next school year.

“By moving the kids to Gilson we get a little extra money,” Jensen said Monday night.

Supporters of the move point to the fact that the district is already moving towards a middle school concept with the future building of a new middle school that will replace the current building housing seventh and eighth graders.

“I believe the middle school concept is what we need to do for students,” Gilson principal Rod Morrison told the board at Monday night’s meeting.

The proposal was on the board agenda Monday night. However, the matter was tabled until the March 31 budget hearing by a vote of 3-4.

“It hasn’t been out there for the community to discuss,” board member Anita Fannin said before the vote. “I think people need to be very well aware this might happen.”

Courtesy of Valdez City Schools

Superintendent Jacob Jensen

The matter was first made public by school administrators March 5 when a $570,000 budget deficit was projected in the $14.7 million-plus budget for next year.

Gislon Jr. High has a current enrollment of 98 seventh and eighth grade students. Projections say adding sixth graders to next year’s enrollment will put the school’s population at 140 students.

“I think there will be some pluses,” Morrison said, “There will be some minuses.”

The proposal comes with the full support of Christopher Bennett, principal of Hermon Hutchens Elementary School.

“If you know people who have questions, please send them in,” Morrison said.


Reader Comments

RollinRock writes:

A quick search of the EED certification (public access) data does not show that Superintendent Jensen has a current superintendent endorsement. If a teacher didn't have the proper endorsement or let their provisional endorsement lapse, they would either be place on sub pay or pink slipped. Not sure how the community feels about having the captain of this ship navigating waters where they don't have the expected credentials for this type of position. Thoughts anyone?

mari2JJ writes:

I always enjoy reading your online edition of the Valdez Star but it always makes me homesick for the wonderful folks of Valdez. I have been gone from Valdez for many years and I always remember the good years when jimmy and I were there. Hi to all of our friends there in the city and the 1st Baptist Church. Those were wonderful years of my life. Thanks for the warm welcome of me, a newbie, so many years ago.


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