SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Smoke and Mirrors

By Agnes Moran


December 18, 2015
Friday PM

The administration and school board of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) have been creating discord with the Borough Assembly over “in-kind contributions” to draw the community’s attention away from what it should be focused on, student achievement. Under this administration and school board our children are failing to thrive.

In FY2010 KGBSD General Fund expenditures were $13,645 per student. The graduation rate was 77.88% overall, 76.79% for Alaska Native/American Indian students and 68.63% for economically disadvantaged students. By FY2014, per student expenditures had increased 24% to $16,928, yet the overall graduation rate dropped 6.7% to 72.99%. During the same period, the graduation rate for Alaska Native/American Indian students dropped an astounding 22.4% to 59.62% and the graduation rate for economically disadvantaged students dropped 8% to 63.08%. This is the conversation we should be focused on. This is the conversation the district is trying to hide behind the smoke and mirrors of in-kind contribution arguments.

In contrast to Ketchikan, during this same time period, the US national average high school graduation increased 5% from 78.2% to 82.3% while the US national average for per student expenditures increased less than 2% from $10,498 to $10,700.

Our community has been very generous in its support of the school district, approving bond initiatives for school capital projects and reaching into their pockets to provide over $1 million in activities fundraising support annually. The equivalent of 100% of the Borough’s property tax and 25% of the Borough’s sales tax revenues are allocated to education. The assembly voted to establish and fund a reserve account for education. 99.19% of our teachers are highly qualified and are paid above average for the state of Alaska. Our students should be succeeding at least at the national level, if not well beyond.

What our district lacks is academic focus and leadership. Not one of KGBSD’s board of education goals statement since 2009-2010 contain a reference to academic achievement or excellence. The board and administration have been obsessed with trying to circumvent Federal and State funding reporting requirements instead of supporting our teachers and children.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education stressed in November of 2010 that, “There are no jobs for high school dropouts, and there are almost no jobs for young people who just have a high school diploma.” It is critical for our children’s future success that they graduate from high school.

If the district administration and board are unwilling to move past their obsession with “in kind contributions” and get back to the business of educating our children, they need to step down. Our children can’t wait.

Agnes Moran
Ketchikan, Alaska KGBSD Board of Education/School Board Goals

Salary & Benefits Schedule and Teacher Tenure Study, UAA Center for Alaska Education Policy Research, University of Alaska Anchorage

By FY2010 (2009-2010 school year) the superintendent is 2 years into his tenure, the primary antagonists on the school board are in place and the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) has settled on a comprehensive reporting format for Department of Education State of Alaska Report Card to the Public – District Level.

The most current, finalized data on the DEED site is for FY2014 (2013-2014 school year).


Ketchikan, Alaska


Received December 18, 2015 - Published December 18, 2015

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