Second Kodiak Island Borough School to close in recent months.
Building will stay open for students’ use thanks to Karluk Tribal Council.
As was feared, another Kodiak village school has closed.
The Karluk School joined its cousin the Larsen Bay School in shutting down due to falling enrollment. Village residents had hoped to get the few extra students needed to reach the magic number of 10, but were unable to meet the requirement.
Kodiak Island Borough School Superintendent, Larry LeDoux explains.
“The school had to close because it didn’t meet the state requirement that they have 10 students during the October count period. In the state of Alaska, they determine school funding for schools based on 20-day count in October. And during that 20-day count, if a school doesn’t have an average of 10 students then the state withdraws support for that school.”
For the borough, that equates to a $300,000 loss in state revenues to operate the school.
In recent years, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and the school district opted to keep some village schools open by covering the costs locally. But with big funding cuts from all sides, that is no longer an option.
“So, what we’ve done in Karluk, is while the school is officially closed, all the students are now working through our homeschool program, or distance program, if you will. And so they are in contact with teachers that are based here in Kodiak.”
A big plus for the Karluk homeschoolers is that the school district found a way to provide them with internet access at a cost-effective rate.
“So the students on distance programming will have access to a bandwidth that will allow them to participate in distance classes and to talk with home school support here in Kodiak. We’ve also hired a part-time aide, four hours a day, to work with students in the community, to help parents with the programing.
Another benefit the Karluk students will have, is access to the building itself. Instead of shuttering the school, the local tribal council stepped up to keep it open.
“The really great thing that’s happening is the borough has worked out a program with the Karluk Tribal Council to keep the building open. So the building is available for students to use during the day, who receive tutorial help. Essentially, students in Karluk are on a homeschooling program. So their parents are directly responsible but we are providing tutorial services to help students succeed. So it’s become a real partnership.”
LeDoux adds that many districts around Alaska just close schools when they lose funding, but the Kodiak school district is working hard to help students to continue their education in their home village.