School Board meets on election day to discuss changes to charter school contract, grants and more

FNSBSD school board addresses grants from the federal government, the needs of military students and contract amendments for Boreal Sun Charter School.
Published: Oct. 5, 2023 at 8:52 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Oct. 3, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District (FNSBSD) school board conducted a general meeting to include topics such as grants, awards, recent military accidents, and a change to a charter school contract were discussed.

While many in the borough paid attention to the municipal election which occurred on Oct. 3, the FNSBSD school board was fulfilling their duties of office at a general meeting.

The meeting started with a couple of agenda items that included the acknowledgement of how important after school programs are, while the superintendents report started on a solemn note. “How deeply saddened I was hearing about the tragic military accident that claimed the lives of two of our Ft. Wainwright soldiers and left several others injured,” said Dr. Luke Meinert, superintendent of the school district in response to a vehicular accident that occurred near Salcha. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives and extend my heartfelt condolences to them during this difficult time. The dedication and sacrifice of our military personnel cannot be overstated.”

He continued speaking about those that survived the incident. “To those that were left injured in the accident, I offer my sincere wishes for a swift recover and Col. Cole, if there is anything we can do to help support you from the school district we offer our support and we’re happy to help in any way that we can,” Meinert said.

During his report, Meinert spoke about a handful of positive developments, one of which was the on-boarding of more bus drivers, relieving concerns and issues for parents and students. The number of new bus drivers was not stated, but Meinert mentioned more were on the way and that the new employees will help stabilize routes. Those routes have previously faced cancelled service earlier this school year. Additional new drivers should come into service in the next few weeks.

There were also two large grants received last week.

One of those came from the Department of Justice, providing $696,000 for school safety. These funds will help retain school safety assistants at the high schools for a few more years until greater funding is secured or the positions are cut.

The other award came from the Department of Defense, a five year grant of $2 million to help increase tutoring services, and support literacy in the district.

Later in the meeting, the board discussed an amendment to the contract for Boreal Sun Charter School, which opened in 2016. The charter school currently serving students in kindergarten through seventh grade. “Boreal Sun is requesting some flexibility in their class size numbers which also relates to the PTR in their school,” said Meinert. PTR referring to the pupil-teacher ratio. After the administration explained their needs to the board stating that they would like to meet their enrollment goal of 195 students, it was clarified to the board by the superintendent that the purpose of the board approving the amendment is because the PTR is part of the contract language. The school administration did however mention they would like to have an eighth grade class next year which will require the contract to expand the goal or capped enrollment size.

The discussion of the amendment brought up concerns revolving around charter school contracts and how they would be implemented in the future with regard to changing class sizes, enrollment sizes, anomalies in enrollment on a year to year basis, and student recruitment. The board did pass the amendment for the 2023-2024 school year.