Schoenbar & Fawn Mountain
Discussed During Public Forum
by Sharon Lint
January 20, 2005
Ketchikan, Alaska - Praying for
an end to the last two years of academic upheaval, last night
at 7 p.m., a small group of Ketchikan area residents gathered
at the Ted Ferry Civic Center to discuss key issues that will
come into play once the Schoenbar Middle School renovation and
Fawn Mountain School construction finally come to an end. The
School Board convened this meeting in order to allow residents
to comment on currently considered options, offer alternative
ideas for the Board's deliberation, and to agree to a consensus
as to the best way to redistribute students into the two new
buildings next year. This forum was meant only to be an energetic
discussion and information-gathering assembly of Ketchikan parents,
students, teachers, and concerned residents who chose to attend.
Schoenbar as it currently
appears. Schoenbar is under renovation.
Photo by Chris Wilhelm
The two-hour session began and ended with comments by Board Member,
Keith Smith. After opening the meeting by thanking the teachers
and administrators of White Cliff and Schoenbar for their support
and adaptability, and acknowledging the difficulties faced by
the teachers, students and their parents throughout the transition
period, Smith went on to outline the Board's best information
as to when the schools might be ready and their relevant capacity.
Being careful to comment "of
course, this is our best information to date and as we know,
those things are always subject to change.", Smith told
the assembly, "The projected completion date for Fawn Mountain
is December 15th of this year and the capacity for Fawn Mountain
will be roughly 315 students." He also related that "According
to the Borough Manager they now feel that as of today that Schoenbar
can be completed by May or June of this year." and went
on to add, "the capacity [for Schoenbar] is 325 students
and the average [grade] size district wide for one [grade] is
around 150 students, so doing the math there, I think we need
to start with the realistic sense that probably only two entire
[grades] would fit in Schoenbar."
As questions arose regarding
the discrepancy between this completion date for Schoenbar and
the date printed in the morning newspaper, Smith admitted to
those in attendance, "Yes. That is the estimate now from
the subcontractors and contractorsit will be completed by May
or June. Yeah. That changed from yesterday. I cannot tell you
where those three months went. I can't tell you that. I'm not
sure anyone in this room can tell you that."
Once the discrepancy was addressed,
and with the capacity of each school known and cessation dates
projected, small table groups began discussing the options outlined
by the Schoenbar Middle School Survey sent in by District Staff.
Several Board Members assisted these table discussions by being
readily available to answer any questions as well as to encourage
open discussion. The Student Options discussed during the forum
and resulting votes were:
||Replace 7th and 8th grade students
||Populate Schoenbar with 6th, 7th and
8th grade students.
||Install 6th and 7th grade students
at Schoenbar, while leaving the 8th grade students at Kayhi
||Move 7th grade students and White Cliff
in Schoenbar, PK - 6, until Fawn Mountain is completed, while
leaving the 8th grade students at Kayhi.
||Allow White Cliff (PK-7) and Central
Office to occupy Schoenbar until Fawn Mountain is completed,
leaving 8th grade students at Kayhi, and the 7th grade students
in elementary school sites.
||Replace 7th and 8th grade students
in Schoenbar, along with Central Office (for now).
||Keep White Cliff together and move
into new school as soon as possible
||7, 8, 9th grades at Schoenbar with
teams of teachers, increase Schoenbar and Kayhi to 7 periods/day.
The last half hour of the meeting
was spent as a full body, hearing the conclusions and key concerns
reached by each table. Although each table had different specific
concerns regarding the issues at hand, the vote was unanimous
in favor of returning 7th and 8th grade students to Schoenbar
and leaving White Cliff together as a whole in Kayhi until their
school is built.
In the final minutes, a general consensus was agreed upon which
included all of the following:
1) The best course of action
would be to return the 7th and 8th grade students to Schoenbar,
leaving White Cliff together as a whole in Kayhi until Fawn Mountain
2) No 6th grade at Schoenbar;
3) A strong, positive principal for Schoenbar is needed for immediate
hire to begin the difficult task of team-building;
4) Due to the smaller student count of White Cliff, Central Office
might be better suited to offices at Fawn Mountain;
5) Should changes need to be made to the School Calendar to accommodate
relocation into the new schools at moving time, those changes
must be made across the board rather than specific to one school
in order to insure consistency and to prevent confusion for all
concerned, i.e., Fawn Mountain students to have whole
month of December off for moving, but all other schools have
usual Christmas Holiday session.
6) Good communication with parents of all students regarding
these issues is imperative. Good parent involvement is needed
for a smooth transition; and
7) Moving of Schoenbar and White Cliff will be a huge task and
focus is needed on the fact that this is extra duty time: compensation,
adequate maintenance and safety are all issues to be taken into
At the conclusion of the meeting,
Board Member Keith Smith thanked all participants and ended by
declaring, "I would like to say just as a School Board Member
that I hope that we get to a clear idea of where we're going
[by] the end of the school year." To which one parent was
heard commenting under his breath, "Amen."
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