EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Windfall Funds Go To New Staff, iPads

By GARLAND KENNEDY
Sentinel Staff Writer

The Sitka School Board formally accepted its share of the city’s CARES Act and Secure Rural Schools funding at a special meeting Wednesday night, and voted to use it to fill gaps in the district’s staffing and technology needs.

The more than $600,000 in additional revenue from the two sources was not anticipated when the fiscal year 2021 budget was adopted in the spring, and the board immediately applied it to projects and staffing that could not be covered with the original funding available.

The plan approved Wednesday night is to use $400,030 in CARES Act funds to bring in a dozen Americorps volunteers and purchase laptops and iPads for students.

Ensuring that every student in the Sitka schools has access to modern technology remains a high priority, said Interim Superintendent John Holst.

“Everyone’s going to have the same (technology) access, which is a priority,” Holst said at Wednesday’s meeting.

Sitka Tribe of Alaska has also chipped in to cover the cost of new electronic devices for students.

“This is a great partnership with the Tribe,” Holst said in expressing appreciation for the STA’s help.

The $229,035 in Secure Rural Schools funding will be used to fill a counseling position at Pacific High and a full-time physical education teacher at Blatchley Middle School.

District Business Manager Cassee Olin told the board that the technology purchase will be for more than a thousand devices for students to use.

“It’s going to be about a $718,000 purchase that we will be making. And it will actually be for roughly 900 iPads, along with about 400 laptops,” Olin said.

She said the 12 new Americorps workers will bring the district’s total to 17, and they will stay for the full year.

Holst said there may be some difficulty in filling the counselor position at Pacific High, because of the short notice.

“We can go down this road and go ahead and advertise and see if there is anybody out there,” he told the board. “And we will very likely be back in a month or two telling you that we can’t find anyone suitable for this position. . . Be flexible, is my advice.”

“We should push forward and at least put the ask out to see if we can find a counselor,” board member Paul Rioux said.

Board president Amy Morrison agreed, but noted that since the funding allows for only a one-year position, there may be difficulty because of that.

“If we can’t promise them that this will become a full-time position in the school district from here on out, I can see why someone might not want to do that for one year. It’s risky,” Morrison said.

Board member Eric Van Cise concurred, adding that he would like to see a professional social worker at Pacific High.

“I would like to see this exhausted, the possibilities for a licensed professional social worker at Pacific High,” Van Cise said.

The board heard from science teacher Rebecca Himschoot, who voiced her support for a full-time counselor at PHS.

“I’m a little concerned with this direction, there was a long public process saying we need counselors. And there has never been a time like now,” Himschoot said.

In addition to the counselor position at PHS, the board dedicated funding for a full-time PE teacher at Blatchley. Previously, the Blatchley counselor wore two hats, counseling and teaching PE. Holst said that this move will keep the counselor from having to divide time between two roles.

The next scheduled board meeting will be in late July.

In the meantime the school district’s Smart Start Task Force will be working on a plan for the safe reopening of the schools, taking into account the continuing need to protect against the risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Holst has said that any plan will likely involve a combination of distance learning and classroom teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

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 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

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

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.

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