Anchorage School Board approves plan to make up for snow days

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) – The Anchorage School Board voted Monday on an item to approve adjustments to the 2022-2023 calendar due to weather and reviewed the first steps of the Abbott Loop transition plan.

The item was unanimously approved and will remedy the seven days lost due to weather events. According to the district, effectively:

  • Cancel parent-teacher conferences scheduled for February 22 and 23, and both days will become full instructional days.
  • Cancel the teacher in-service day scheduled for February 24, adding a full day of instruction.
  • Add 30 minutes to the school day for all grades beginning January 30 through March 9.

In total, the adjustments will offset approximately five school days for elementary and middle school students and four and a half days for high school students. Public testimony brought community speakers to comment on the issue, some opposing adjusting the calendar year due to the impacts on their businesses.

“Adding days through the end of the year would be much easier for us as a company and a community than five weeks of totally rearranging our schedules to try to accommodate the changes,” said Alaska Rock Gym employee Ted Phelps.

“If you choose to embrace these schedule changes, you will be depriving these children of these enriching experiences that promote healthy growth and development,” added Luke Halter, another Alaska Rock Gym employee.

The board also discussed a portion of their Abbott Loop transition plan to support students, staff, and families. The school has been recommended by the district for demolition, but not before potentially being used as a site to relocate the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School.

“The Abbott Loop community is at the forefront of my mind because strong coordination and planning will be required to ensure Abbott Loop families and staff receive strong levels of support during this time,” said District Superintendent Dr. Jharrett Bryantt. “We will take time to update the board on our initial progress and some of what is currently being planned to support that effort.”

Bryantt said he wants the community to know up front that this work is being done with the first step of the plan being discussed now for an easier transition for everyone involved.

There are four priorities in this plan:

  • Supporting students and families.
  • Support staff and human resources
  • Logistics
  • Transfer and reception of schools

The move will be a collaboration between three schools: Abbott Loop, Trailside and Kasuun Elementary.

Student nutrition programs will also work with schools to support the needs of families through counseling, specialist support, preschool, and special education. Food safety has been a constant concern in the councils, as the district wants to make sure that all children receive adequate meals. You also want to make sure that there is an inviting and welcoming environment at the two receiving schools. ASD maintains that all current staff at Abbott Loop Elementary will receive a job placement for the 2023-2024 school year.

The board stated Monday that there will be approximately 200 rezoned students at Kasuun Elementary and approximately 40 rezoned students at Trailside Elementary, bringing the student population to 466 and 450, respectively.

“In addition to it being heartbreaking that we have to do it, I think it’s going to be great for our kids, and I think that’s the message … we want to make sure families hear it,” said ASD board president Margo Bellamy.

Abbott Loop’s transition plan is an ongoing discussion and process, according to the school board.

The board has yet to formally vote on the fiscal year 2023-24 budget, which must be approved by February 21.