April 30, 2010 • Vol. XXXIII, No. 7

Barb Belts Out Finale

International Folk Festival founder Barbara Kalen (seated right) shows she still has the pipes when it comes to singing the closing number at the 24th annual event hosted by the Skagway Arts Council. See more photos from a full month of events in our Spring Sweep Photo Feature.

Photo by Jeff Brady

No shooting boundary moving north under chief’s proposal

Residents divided on where to place new boundaries along Dyea Road

By JEFF BRADY

The borough’s Public Safety Committee is working on a code revision that would move the no-shooting boundary north to a line from Boulder on the railroad tracks across to Klondike Highway.
In the aftermath of the dog shooting incident close to town last month, the committee set up a meeting on April 22 to address the issue. Chair Mark Schaefer opened by acknowledging they were dealing with a hot topic, but wanted to move a proposal forward that would “solve this problem.”
He then turned to Police Chief Ray Leggett, who had just journeyed up the railroad tracks and scoped out an area for moving the boundary. The chief proposed moving the no-shooting boundary about two miles north of the existing line at Reid Falls Creek (2.6 M on WP&YR), to Boulder (4.6 M) and west to the highway. He said he felt moving the line to the Liarsville area was not far enough to keep address people walking with dogs and kids. The chief also proposed extending the line that runs along the Dyea Road to 1,000 feet above the road, and down to Smuggler’s Cove.
“There are residents we need to protect out there,” he said.
At dusk on April 5, local resident Luke Rauscher was just north of the existing line and used a 30-06 rifle to shoot what he thought was a coyote in the riverbed. It turned out to be a domestic dog owned by Katherine Moseley, who was walking with a friend just across the river; the friend dropped to the ground. Rauscher found the dog the next morning and apologized to the owner for his mistake, but he was later cited by police under the animal cruelty code for shooting a domestic animal. He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor offense, but was found guilty in a brief trial before magistrate Susan Reed on April 21. He was fined $30 and a $10 court surcharge. He could have been fined as much as $300.
Many people in town were outraged over the incident and started calling police, municipal and even state officials. By the time the committee meeting was held, the tension level had dropped considerably.
Of the 25 people at the meeting, 20 spoke in favor of the chief’s proposal for moving the northern boundary to Boulder.
Moseley was one of them. “He was very close to us standing right across the river,” she said.
Others said they walk the tracks and the riverbed with their dogs and kids, and they have seen hunters walking by them with rifles slung over their shoulders.
Those at the meeting were more divided over where to put the line along the Dyea Road. A few hunters present did not want the lines to change at all.
Leggett made it clear that no matter where the no-shooting lines are drawn, people can still shoot an animal in defense of life and property.
“If you’ve got a bear tearing at your back door, you have to do what you have to do,” he said.
Dyea Road resident Jim Sager said the committee should look at the Yukon’s law of no shooting within a mile of a cabin. John Warder, another Dyea Road resident, said Juneau’s law was a quarter mile (about 1,500 feet), but others in the audience said that was too close, considering the range of high-powered rifles.
Carol Bourcy said one of the nice things about living in Skagway was the freedom for kids to play in the woods near their homes. She wanted the committee to also look at protecting those in the new Dyea Point subdivision.
Several spoke in favor of better educating both hunters and those who use the woods for recreation, making them more aware of the hunting seasons.
Scott Logan, who supported the mile-long suggestion, said the problem is usually not the hunters, but those who just go out and shoot. He has seen them shooting across the river near his property just north of Liarsville.
“There are some pretty dumb people just out there shooting,” he said.
Two former mayors, Tim Bourcy and Stan Selmer, supported the committee addressing the issue from a public safety approach, and they were critical of the state for not responding to the Skagway incident.
Steve Jaklitsch, who has property west of the Dyea Road, said he was all for the public’s safety, but worried that expanding the boundaries would lead to more coyotes coming into town. He said he also would like to be able to “take out” a squirrel on his property if it steals any more insulation from his garage.
This drew laughter, but there have been more threatening animals out there. Courtney Thoe said coyotes had followed her while she was walking her small dogs, and Thor Henricksen said a wolf last winter had attacked a dog and may have killed the moose that came into town. And he and his mother have had issues with bears at their homes above the Dyea Road.
“If hunters can’t do anything about these (predators), maybe trappers can,” he suggested, adding that he supported keeping the boundaries the same.
Keith Knorr suggested keeping the lines the same and just banning high-powered rifles, and Kevin Grieser said there is good hunting up the tracks for bear and up above houses on the Dyea Road for grouse.
Committee members then had their chance. Schaefer said protecting life and property from a predator would not change if the boundaries moved.
Paul Reichert said the committee had to take into consideration how much the valley has grown and even consider protective areas further out the Dyea Road where people live.
Dan Henry said he didn’t think it would be okay to shoot a squirrel, but it would have been reasonable to shoot a threatening bear and even a wolf. As for the rest, “we need to agree on what everyone thinks is a reasonable boundary,” he said.
Colette Hisman and Mayor Tom Cochran were present to listen, and the mayor thanked everyone for “keeping their emotions from getting out of hand.” He said Skagway residents have a good track record for having intelligent discussions when it comes to solving problems.
As for the boundary, Cochran said moving it north was a “no brainer…. there are just too many people out there.”
Schaefer closed by saying the committee also will be looking at the animal control code in future meetings, regarding “dogs that run.” He said they hope to have revisions forwarded to the assembly table “in the near future, so pay attention.”

Cruise tax reduced after ships drop suit; another ship commits to 2011

April was a hectic month in Juneau for the state of the cruise industry.
On April 11 Attorney General Dan Sullivan announced that a deal had been reached with the cruise industry that would have the Alaska Cruise Association drop its lawsuit over the state’s head tax if the Legislature moved forward with a proposal from Governor Sean Parnell to reduce the tax.
Then ensued a week of intense debate over the proposal to reduce the tax from $46 to $34.50 per passenger. This basically would eliminate money that had been going into so-called regional funds for infrastructure improvements around the state, which the industry had maintained were not related to cruise ship impacts.
The Skagway Borough Assembly weighed it with unanimous support of a version of the governor’s bill, SB312, which quickly passed the Senate.
It moved to the House, and the debate on the bill centered on what port communities would continue to receive. Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Haines) was right in the middle of it on the House Finance Committee. That committee changed the version passed by the Senate that had kept community levels basically what they are now. Thomas changed it to give effected small port communities like Skagway $8 per head, but nothing for Juneau or Ketchikan which have their own head taxes. He accused the bigger cities of “double dipping.”
But in a parliamentary move, House Majority Leader Kyle Johansen ignored Thomas’s bill and called for a floor vote on a version that put back money for Juneau ($5) and Ketchikan ($2.50). Skagway remained at its current $5. Thomas tried to amend that bill but, at most, got a split House vote of 20-20 for his amendments. Others failed, and the full House then voted in favor of the new bill by a vote of 27-13 on April 18.
The bill reduces a head tax that was narrowly approved by voters in 2006. It also includes additional money requested by the governor to assist the Alaska Tourism Industry Association in marketing the state better.
The governor welcomed the bill’s passage.
“Alaska businesses have suffered because of the impacts of this tax,” Governor Parnell said. “We need to incentivize tour travel to Alaska and build our businesses. Enactment of this bill will put litigation between the cruise industry and the state behind us and allow us to focus on restoring tour travel. I appreciate the Legislature’s consideration of this bill.”
After decades of steady growth in cruise ship passenger visits to Alaska, the state is facing a 15 percent decline in cruise visitation this summer. Including job losses suffered last year and potential losses this year, visitor industry related employment is projected to decline by up to 5,000 jobs, or more than 10 percent, according to ATIA.
Three ships had been pulled by lines from this year’s Alaska market. The lines blamed the tax, along with the economy. While they did not commit to bringing ships back if the bill passed, they said they would consider it for 2012.
Some new lines are already on board for next year, and a new one announced last week that it was coming in 2011. Oceania Cruises will sail to Skagway six times with its 684-passenger Regatta, joining Disney in its first summer in Alaska, and Crystal Cruises which is bringing a high-end ship back here.
The tax reduction apparently had something to do with Oceania’s decision.
“We are thrilled to add the 49th state to our growing slate of enriching itineraries,” stated Frank Del Rio, Oceania Cruises’ founder and chairman/CEO of parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings. “Our guests are always seeking destinations rich in history, culture, adventure and stunning scenery. The great state of Alaska delivers all of these points of interest and more. We would also like to thank Alaska’s Governor, Sean Parnell, and the Alaska Legislature for their efforts to rollback the head tax on cruise passengers which was an important consideration in evaluating our deployment alternatives.” – AP & SN reports

School Board trims budget after meeting with borough

Music would be half-time, pre-school unfunded

By JEFF BRADY

Following three meetings on its draft budget in less than a week, the Skagway School Board decided in special session on April 13 to trim $56,698 from a school budget that was initially presented to the municipality.
The cuts would involve making the music program half-time for a savings of $36,805, and removing the $16,993 pre-school program from the budget next year. Pre-school would remain in the school, but it would have to be a “stand-alone program” funded by parents or through fund-raisers. There was an additional savings of $2,900 by bumping up the price of school lunches 50 cents.
After holding its own work session with the public on April 8, the board then met in a joint work session with the Borough Assembly on April 12. The school initially presented a $2.46 million budget with a request of $1,661,532 from the borough. Of that, $409,752 was requested from the municipality for programs outside the operating fund. For the past two years, outside money had come from the borough’s forest receipts account, but at the joint meeting school officials were told there may not be enough money for all the district’s requests outside the operating budget.
Still the school budget was plugged into the borough’s draft budget at the initial level, with the extra money coming from sales tax funds.
Then, on April 13, the board made some cuts, and a revised budget was presented to the assembly by business services manager Kathy Pierce on April 15. That revised budget, with a new $1,604,834 request from the municipality, must be acted on within 30 days or it becomes adopted.
The debate at times on the school budget the past few weeks has been emotional.
It started with the school’s own work session in which some board members pressed interim Superintendent Les McCormick about the pupil count of 72 that was the basis for the budget, and his reluctance to pursue a count waiver from the education commissioner.
McCormick walked out of the meeting after about 20 minutes. Later, he said he walked out over the count issue.
“The long and short, it was the second meeting in a row where it was insuated that I was a liar,” McCormick said. “I just didn’t need to be there for it. I just present the facts.”
He said the 72 figure came after meetings with staff and was confirmed later by polling parents. He said he did not regret walking out, but said he did apologize to Board President Chris Ellis and member Darren Belisle.
Ellis did not have any comment about the incident. Other board members said the work session proceeded smoothly after McCormick left. Many parents spoke in favor of keeping programs and submitting the budget to the borough unchanged.
When they met with the borough, the mood changed.
Mayor Tom Cochran said that if they funded the extra program request from the forest receipts account, it would leave only $7,500 left, making it unsustainable. They talked briefly about the intent of the sales tax increase in 2007, which was expected to raise an additional $850,000 annually for the borough. Voters were asked to approve it to fund clinic bond payments (about $353,000 last year) and assist other needs, including the school. However, it was noted that sales tax income declined last year and likely will do so again this year.
Cochran recommended the municipality fund its requirement to the school operating fund – the so-called cap level of $1,251,780 set by the state – and a portion of the $409,752. He mentioned $200,000 to $250,000 but said that amount would be up to the assembly, which also could choose to fully fund it.
Ellis said the district had come to the assembly with a reduced budget – in fact the operating fund request was $90,000 less than last year, and the outside request was about $40,000 less. The district was able to avoid a reduction in force with a teacher resignation, elimination of a part-time librarian and special ed. aide, staff concessions on health care costs, and sharing teaching duties in a slimmed down education plan, she noted.
“I would beg for us to have a chance to do that without sabotaging programs,” Ellis said.
Assemblyman Tim Cochran said he preferred keeping money in the forest receipts account for school infrastructure needs, as they develop.
“I believe education is the most important thing, but everyone has to have their limits,” he said.
He went on to cite high salaries at the school as part of the problem, but the Skagway Teachers Organization this week corrected some of his figures.
“According to the State Department of Education and Early Learning, the average Alaskan teacher salary for the years 2008/2009 was $58,395.13,” STO wrote. “Anchorage teachers’ salaries averaged $61,000 this school year, according to the Association of Alaska School Boards. The average salary of a Skagway teacher is $52,546.89.”
The letter also mentioned that there was no raise in the recently negotiated agreement, and they conceded to an increase in their health care deductible.
At the joint meeting, assemblyman Dan Henry worried that not funding the school’s needs would lead more quality families to leave town. But Mark Schaefer noted that even with the school’s academic success in recent years, families have been leaving. Dave Hunz said the high cost per student in Skagway needed to be brought down. Colette Hisman wondered why there hadn’t been a RIF, considering the reduced enrollment. Paul Reichert said the school should be given a chance to make some more cuts.
At the end of the work session, as about 25 in the public watched, the mayor urged them to come to the next assembly meeting and give them input.
By the time some of them showed up at the April 15 assembly meeting, the board had already made its cuts. Belisle said the budget they submitted “was not very fluffy,” and they considered cutting more. Board member Stuart Brown presented a list of $78,000 in cuts, but in the end they settled on making music half-time and cutting the pre-school line item, with a hope that those programs might be able to be restored at a later date.
Ellis said the new total for the assembly to consider now represented a 17 percent reduction over last year.
At the April 15 assembly meeting, pre-school parents Shauna Thomas, Denise Sager, Loya Zalit, and Beth Smith spoke in support of fully funding the school at the initial request. They said pre-school is important for the development of school-age kids.
Smith also spoke in support of music, saying it motivates students, helps them with time management, gives them confidence, develops talents, and helps with college resumes.
“I think the cuts will have a negative domino effect on enrollment,” Smith said. “So I encourage full funding.”
McCormick has been frank all year about the need for more budget discipline, but he said what they presented last week is “probably as good as it is going to get for this year.”
But he cautioned that they “have a long way to go,” and if enrollment drops into the 60s next year, it will take “a concerted effort by everyone.

RELATED EDITORIAL: School has done enough to establish the need

Superintendent search down to three; two Alaskans await Denali selection

By JEFF BRADY

The Skagway School Board emerged from an hour-long executive session Tuesday night with a list of three finalists for the superintendent position. They are: Jefferie Thielbar, the current high school principal in Barrow; Keith Langfitt, superintendent of the Nazareth district in Burkeville, Texas; and Danny Frazier, assistant director of student support services for the Mat-Su district in Palmer.
The board had planned to interview all three via teleconference on Thursday night, but discovered Wednesday morning that the two Alaskans were also finalists for the Denali Borough School District and both were in that district for interviews on Thursday.
Board member Stuart Brown, a member of the selection committee with Darren Belisle, said he would speak with the two Alaskans on Friday, to see if one or both were still available. The board was still planning to interview Langfitt Thursday evening.
After it concludes the phone interviews (watch for updated schedule on the News website), the board will meet in executive session to discuss the finalists and then choose one candidate to come to Skagway for a face-to-face interview. Then it will hold a special meeting to officially select the next superintendent, said Board President Christine Ellis.
Brown said the district received the “cream of the crop” among the 17 applicants. “The high academics of the school we have to thank for that.”
Belisle said thorough background checks were performed by the Alaska Association of School Boards, and they had several conversations with AASB. He said they are still checking references on the finalists.
The board had been questioned earlier about a discrepancy in its advertising for the position. The AASB website said the district’s “ideal candidate” would have at least four years of administrative experience, while the district’s posting stated, “The Superintendent must hold a Type B-Administrative Certificate issued by the State of Alaska and have at least 4 years of administrative experience.” Ellis said the district’s posting was the official one.
This may have weighed against high school teacher Josh Coughran, a finalist for the interim position last year, and an applicant and popular choice among students this year. He received his administrative certificate while working under former Superintendent Michael Dickens.
Brown said they considered each candidate, scored them, and then talked about them. “It was a detailed process,” he said, adding that many had 10 or more years of experience.
The board at first was not going to release the finalist names, but was prompted by the News to do so, citing the Alaska Open Records Act.
A quick check of the applicants found the following about their backgrounds:
• Danny Frazier – current Assistant Director of Student Support Services in Palmer since 2008. He also served as executive director of Special Education in Fairbanks, an Education Specialists II in the Alaska Department of Education, and Director of Special Education in Wrangell. He has a master’s degree in educational administration from New Mexico State University and special education certification from the University of Phoenix.
• Keith Langfitt – current superintendent of Nazareth Independent School District in Burkeville, Texas since 2006. He also has been a high school principal and has 19 years of experience, 14 in administration and five in teaching. He has a master’s in school administration from Sull Ross University, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree in industrial technology.
• Jefferie Thielbar – current principal at Barrow High School since 2008.  He also was a high school principal at three different Wyoming districts from 2000 to 2008. He has a doctorate in education leadership and a master’s in physical education from the University of Wyoming.

UPDATE: The board interviewed all three on May 3 and selected Thielbar to come to Skagway for another interview on May 10. See story in May 14 issue.

WELCOME RELIEF – Wayne Selmer is in town for a couple weeks to help the post office. AC

Checking the mail: Brummett heads to Haines, Selmer back to help short-staffed PO

By ANDREW CREMATA

A familiar face has returned to the post office to offer assistance after the departure of Skagway’s postmaster, but it is still unclear if, and when, full-time help will arrive. With the busy summer season looming, the post office still has but one full time employee and one seasonal hire to work the mail room.
Manager of Post Office Operations Darus Macy said via telephone April 20 that Skagway Postmaster Elaine Brummett was taking the Haines postmaster job and starting immediately.
Brummett’s departure left the post office with only one full time employee qualified to work the front counter, and one seasonal hire to work in mail room sorting mail and monitoring the package pick-up half door. In order to keep current on mail, the post office began closing the front counter at 2 p.m.
Macy said, “I need to post the job, which I will do,” in reference to hiring a new postmaster to take over for Brummett. She said that in the meantime she would find someone to fill in from another office, but would not be able to address it until the following week as there was a postmaster’s conference in Petersburg, causing offices around the state to be short-staffed.
In March, it was a Postmaster’s Leadership Conference that caused Brummett to be out of the office during the final part of the month. Brummett left again on April 5 to assist the Haines office. Since her departure, Hoonah Postmaster Renee Jones came to Skagway to assist for a day and a half.
On the afternoon of April 27, former Skagway postal worker Wayne Selmer came down from the Anchorage office to assist. He said he would be in Skagway for two weeks.
Macy had previously stated it was her intent to have three full-time employees and two seasonal hires working during the summer, typical for previous years. Macy said she was unsuccessful finding a person internally to fill the position vacated last fall, and had “requested” to make the job available to the community.
She said she was unsure when a public posting of the job would be approved because it was the first time a position could not be filled internally and, “It’s the Post Office. It’s a big organization.”
Macy said the other seasonal hire had also not been approved.
She reiterated that she did not want the Post Office to be closed at all, and that she hoped to have “people in there” within two weeks.
“Don’t freak out,” said Macy.
Attempts to contact Macy before deadline on April 26 and 27 were unsuccessful. On subsequent phone calls, messages were left when Macy was “out to lunch,” “not available,” or “conducting interviews,” according to her secretary.

BOROUGH DIGEST (complete digest in print edition)

TWO REPORTS: DYEA & WEST CREEK PLANNING: Concerns from P&Z over new Dyea Flats plan; Community weighs in on West Creek management

Manager back part-time after heart surgery
 Borough Manager Tom Smith was back at work part-time on Tuesday, less than three weeks after being medevaced from Skagway with a heart attack that led to quadruple bypass surgery in Anchorage.
He wasn’t feeling good at work on April 8, experiencing pain in his chest, and municipal staff urged him to go to the clinic. That set in motion the medevac, and he ended up at Anchorage’s Providence Hospital.
He made good progress after his April 11 surgery and was moved from ICU to a progressive care unit by mid-week. By April 20 he was allowed to leave Anchorage and drive home with his wife, and was also cleared by his doctor to work part-time starting April 27.
In the meantime, the Borough Assembly on April 15 had appointed Mayor Tom Cochran as the interim manager in Smith’s absence.
Reached at work this past Wednesday morning, Smith said he was “feeling real good right now” and even mentioned that he was ready to go canoeing.
He said he had been cleared to work half-days this week, but told not to overdo it. “If this week goes good, I hope to be full on-board next Monday,” he said.
Smith said he was thankful to the department heads and treasurer for getting the first draft of the budget ready for the April 15 assembly meeting. He also thanked the many people who contacted him.
“There were many wonderful, kind thoughts and deeds to come our way,” he said. “It made it all that much wonderful to come home.”

$5 million budget introduced, cuts coming
 The Borough Assembly on April 15 passed first reading of the FY 2010-11 budget, which weighed in at a whopping $5.014 million.
That’s about $315,000 more than last year’s final budget, and if the numbers stick, the Service Area I mill rate would climb from 7.25 to 9.20 mills.
“That mill rate is looking rather high,” said Mayor Tom Cochran, adding that it tends to start high and then goes through an exhausting process of budget meetings to bring it down. “I think it will be lower.” It was noted that the numbers reflect what the school asked for initially (funded out of sales tax, not forest receipts), as well as “pretty healthy department requirements.”
Cochran said that after the sticker shock wears off, he would like to see the total budget reduced.
Members bemoaned ever-increasing health insurance costs that have bumped up the budget by $750,000, and hinted that they may be looking at payroll reductions next year to lower associated costs. They said their predicament over insurance costs is not unlike what the school has been facing.
“Insurance has just been killing budgets and businesses,” said Dan Henry.
Several in the public spoke in favor of keeping the school budget intact, and restoring nearly $57,000 cut by the school board after meeting with the borough assembly (see school budget story).
The various assembly committees started going over departmental budgets last week, and those budget meetings continue until May 11. All meetings are open to the public, and assembly members urged citizens to get involved in the process.
Second reading of the budget is scheduled for May 20, with a third and final reading at the first meeting in June.

Dyea Point appraisals, disposal discussed
 Talk about sticker shock. The eight parcels appraised recently by Horan & Co. pegged the parcels on Dyea Point with a fair market value between $91,300 and $127,400.
The assembly on April 15 passed first reading of an ordinance authorizing the disposal of the Taiya Inlet Subdivision parcels, but some questions have been raised about the appraisals.
Nearby residents Cara Cosgrove and Bruce Weber, who have a right of first refusal on adjacent Parcel 8, by virtue of a land exchange for right-of-way with the borough, objected to the per acre value of that single parcel. It is the smallest at 1.710 acres, but has the highest per acre value of $57,192, compared to an average of $28,024.91 for the other parcels. The remaining parcels are from 3-5 acres in size.
One of their chief objections was the fact that they bought another adjacent piece of property in 2007 for $40,000 an acre, at the height of real estate prices. “Due to recent declines in land values it seems that parcel #8 should be valued less than $40,000 per acre, not $17,000 more per acre,” they wrote.
The Finance Committee was set to meet with Horan appraisers via teleconference Wednesday afternoon after this issue’s deadline.
The ordinance moved forward with just a couple amendments to a second reading on May 6. The sale could be held in early June, the mayor said.
It will be an outcry auction, and each bidder must purchase a non-refundable ticket for $100. Bids must be for fair market value or above. If a parcel does not sell, it can be sold over the counter at City Hall for up to five years. Successful bidders will be required to place 7 percent down on a 12-year note at 7 percent interest; or they may place 7 percent down if the land is purchased through a financial or mortgage institution; or they can buy it for cash outright at a 10% discount.

Judge's Choice in Atlanta

Team X-treme Botz from Skagway collected a Judge's Choice Award at the recent World Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. Above they are seen working with their robot, with their award, and greeting fellow students at their Skagway booth. Read story below and link to the First Lego League Press Release (pdf) to learn more about the festival and competitions. Photos courtesy of Vivian Meyer, Skagway School

SCHOOL REPORT (complete report in print edition)

Robotics kids win Judge’s Choice at Atlanta festival
 The X-treme Botz robotics team from Skagway School collected a Judge’s Choice Award at the World Festival in Atlanta earlier this month. The team was one of 84 from all over the world invited to the prestigious festival.
At the April 27 School Board meeting, the kids – Rosalie Westfall, Riley Westfall, Kiara Selmer, and Trevor Cox – paraded their team flag with pins from teams from many nations. They also showed a video/slide show of their various experiences from visiting sites in Atlanta to the competitions in a huge arena. The highlight was when the team was called up to receive its award.
“It’s an experience we will never forget,” the kids said in the video. “We met dozens of friends.”
The board also heard from some of the high school students who had just returned from the Smithsonian Science Trip to Puerto Rico.
“We learned, we had fun, and we got some sun,” said Rori Leaverton, one of the students who described their packed schedule of visits to rain forests, scientific and cultural sites.
Mickey Wilson said he was glad science teacher Cory Thole “persuaded us to keep a journal.” Thole said the journal idea came from his own trips, and he still goes back and looks at them.
The kids encouraged the board to continue the program every other year. The Smithsonian trips have replaced senior trips, with high school students traveling every other year.
The high school students will present their own video program about their experience at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 4 in the McMillen Room at the school.

Audit costs more than Pre-School
 In a strange twist, the board was faced with approving an audit proposal of $18,000, while making its pre-school a “stand alone program” that needs to raise $16,000 that is no longer available in its budget.
“That’s a program,” said Maggio.
It was decided it was too late to ask for audit bids for this year, but it would be explored for next year.
Earlier parents were assured that pre-school would be made available in the building, but unless the borough restores funding to the program next year, parents would have to raise money to pay a teacher.
“It’s an important program that we need to foster, but if we don’t get any funding, it’s hard to keep it going,” said Joanne Korsmo.
McCormick said the Legislature is considering counting pre-school toward funding starting the 2011-12 school year.

Count waiver letter sent
The board voted to send a letter to the Education Commissioner requesting a waiver of the pupil count to have it start on Aug. 30 due to Skagway’s seasonal fluctuation.
The state count is usually during the month of October, after most of Skagway’s seasonal students have left.
Members noted that a previous commissioner had compromised with a waiver period that started in mid-September, but said starting on Aug. 30 would be ideal for Skagway. – JB



Successful Artfest in Haines – Recently seven Skagway School students participated in the 12th annual SE Alaska Artfest held in Haines. Workshop participation was open to schools from around the region. Each student selected two art mediums from 22 topics to focus their attention.  Students maintained a heavy schedule working from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. for three days. Work culminated with a public art show  to present student work and art auction held on the final evening. Skagway participants included  Jade Cook, Alexis Grieser, Amanda Hoover, Aidan Klupar, Ian Klupar, and Zoe Wassman. Established by art teacher Kirk Garbisch of Wrangell over a decade ago, Artfest is now a sanctioned Alaska School Activities event. Artfest moves between the communities, next year being Petersburg. Alexis Greiser’s hobo puppet “Oscar Greenbaum” was awarded the top prize of the event with Best Overall Artwork. Oscar recently hopped a plane for Anchorage to compete in the Alaska state art competition. – Karl Klupar