The community of Danger Bay didn’t see a lot of student’s turnout for school this year. After seeing low enrollment in the community, the Kodiak Island Borough School District had to make a tough decision.
Danger Bay, a logging community on Afognak Island, is facing the closure of its school. At a recent meeting, the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s Board of Education voted to close it because of a lack of students. Before it can carry out this decision though, it needs the approval of the Alaska Commissioner of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Larry LeDoux, the Kodiak Island Borough School District Superintendent, says even if the school is closed the district isn’t abandoning Danger Bay.
“We’re not just closing the school and locking the door. The school will be open or the school building will be open. We’ve provided services for them and we’re working with the parents there.”
The minimum number of students needed to receive state funding is ten. LeDoux says Danger Bay isn’t the only community in the region dealing with a lack of students.
“Currently we have three schools that are under ten. That’s a significant number in the state of Alaska because once you go below ten then the state doesn’t fund you as a separate school anymore.”
Port Lions and Karluk are the other villages that aren’t meeting the minimum threshold for state funding, but their schools are staying open. LeDoux says for every school that doesn’t have at least 10 students, it costs the district around $300,000.
Even though the district wants to close Danger Bay’s school, LeDoux says it would be a phased in closure. The community will still receive educational services such as a full-time aid, limited internet access for students taking classes by video conferencing in, and it’s enrolling students in the district’s AK Teach program.
“So we are providing a lot of services even though we’re recommending the school be closed. We want to work with the community and we want to make sure their educational program for each student is stabilized. So we’re doing a little bit extra.”
Once the school is officially closed, the district will not be required to rent the school and teacherage from Danger Bay. It also won’t be required to keep a full-time teacher in the community.
The Board of Education is currently waiting on the approval by the Commissioner of Education but expects an answer soon.