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A WALK IN THE PARK – Jim Moormann walks through Sitka National Historical Park this morning, as he has every day for the past two and a half years. This Saturday is National Trails Day, an annual event which began in 1993 to honor the National Trail System. In normal years volunteers help with trail maintenance in parks across the country. This year there will be no organized cleanup in Sitka and, without tour ship visitors, Sitkans will have the park to themselves. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Wegner Names Principal Changes

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

School District Superintendent Mary Wegner today announced several changes in principal and assistant principal positions at Sitka High School and Blatchley Middle School.

“I have offered contracts,” Wegner said. “They have 30 days to sign.”

If the contracts are signed SHS assistant principal Sondra Lundvick will move up to principal, and principal Laura Rogers will become half-time assistant principal at Blatchley and work half-time in a district-wide position. Lundvick will hire the SHS assistant principal, with the concurrence of the interim superintendent. Blatchley assistant principal Matt Potter has been offered a position as social studies teacher at the middle school.

“I really appreciate Matt Potter’s contributions for the district,” Wegner said.

Wegner had previously said a principal reassignment at one other school was also being considered, but under the plan announced today Casey Demmert will remain as principal at Keet Gooshi Heen; Jill Lecrone at Baranof Elementary, and Mandy Summer at Pacific High. Ben White will remain as principal at Blatchley.

The decisions to shift personnel came following conversations between Wegner, John Holst, and the four principals being considered for new posts.

Holst will become interim superintendent July 1, when Wegner leaves to take a position with the University of Alaska Southeast.

“We had really good conversations with principals, and working with John Holst,” said Wegner. “We’re really looking at a strength-based approach. This is the time we look at placements for next year. ... We listened to them and it’s up to them to decide (whether to sign).”

Wegner cited the goals of the district and making the best use of the talents of administrative staff in light of the board’s goals of closing the achievement gap and improving social-emotional learning.

“It’s a question of how do we leverage strengths to meet the needs,” Wegner said. “We have a lot of data: which schools need which leadership to meet the goals of the district.”

Wegner had emailed the School Board that changes were being considered at principal and assistant principal positions at Sitka High, Blatchley and Keet Gooshi Heen. Each principal and assistant principal, who is represented by a union, followed the outlined process, and set up meetings with her and Holst to discuss the matter further.

“We’ll have two moves instead of four,” Wegner said. Holst concurred with Wegner’s comments.

“I’m feeling really good about the decision -- as painful as it may be to some people I think it’s the right thing,” said Holst, who was superintendent of the Sitka School District for eight years.

“When people have been in places for longer periods of time ... You’ve got to get people in the right place and match their skill level,” he said.

Since retiring in 2001, Holst has stayed active as a school administration consultant and mentor around the state.

After the potential moves became public the district office and board members received a lot of public feedback.

Judging from the comments, Wegner said, “No doubt, we have a passionate learning community that cares about our students.”

She said half of Rogers’ new job is districtwide, with such responsibilities as 504/gifted coordinator, or implementation of certain district grants.

Rogers, who was busy today making final arrangements for Sitka High’s non-traditional graduation ceremony later today, said her main goal is to “do what’s in the best interest of the district.”

“Ultimately one way or another I want to make sure we’re focused on the things we need to do for fall and not anything going on with me personally,” she said. “I can do that in either capacity. I want to make sure kids are focused on coming back to school with the most positive attitude possible.”

Rogers was assistant principal at Blatchley for two years before becoming principal of SHS three years ago

“I loved working for Ben before; I will enjoy working with him again,” she said.

Wegner announced the final position decisions in her weekly “Superintendent Spotlight” newsletter to staff on Friday. She also posted the decision on the district website. Wegner said the board is responding to individuals who shared concerns about the changes.

 

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 6-5-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:50 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 11

Total statewide – 524

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 48, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

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The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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