February 20, 2020
Dear GCSD Families and Community Members:
On this February day in 1965, NASA’s Ranger 8 spacecraft enjoyed a controlled/planned crash on the lunar surface after relaying thousands of photographs used to determine future Apollo mission landing sites. I mention this mind-boggling, cutting-edge, technological advance as a segue into spotlighting a recent accomplishment of some potential future NASA engineers.
With that preamble … the IDEA Region F (Fairbanks-area) Lego Robotics team known as “Storm Tech” won the interior regional championship this past weekend, beating 25 competitive teams. An amazing accomplishment representing thousands of collective hours of hard and creative work, their well-deserved success has qualified them for the international championship in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in May where they plan to represent proudly Alaska, GCSD, and IDEA.
Our IDEA Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) members, our IDEA field reps, and the IDEA administration are finishing a couple days of strategic planning meetings today. This important annual event provides a collaborative venue for GCSD administration to hear IDEA PAC members’ program kudos and program improvement suggestions. During the February GCSD School Board meeting last night, school board members enjoyed live testimony from participants.
On Friday, February 7, 2020, GCSD school board members and administration visited Juneau and met with the Department of Education & Early Development (DEED) and key members of the House and Senate. GCSD’s focus for our legislative visits was three-fold:
- Thank legislators and DEED leadership for their continued support of the school choice options GCSD offers families across Alaska.
- Advocate for increased State revenue for K-12 operations.
- Although both the Executive and the Legislative branches of Alaska’s government are on record supporting flat funding for K-12 education for the 2020-2021 school year, GCSD leadership felt compelled to advocate for an increase to K-12 funding because, as we all know, flat funding is a cut to education because of inexorable inflationary expenses like negotiated salary increases, rising energy costs, etc.
- Inform key members of the House and Senate about the importance of DEED’s Major Maintenance and School Construction grant programs and the need to protect funding for capital projects.
As you might remember from my January letter, DEED recently ranked GCSD’s Composite Building Renovation project #2 out of 102 district-submitted projects. If funded by the legislature this spring session, this project will renovate this aged facility on the GILA campus into an energy efficient state-of-the-art instructional facility.
Also, please know that recently the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (DEED) released the 2018-2019 Report Cards to the Public for each school district and school in Alaska. This user-friendly website aims to provide families with clear common information about all public schools and districts in our State. These report cards to the public contain data and information about academics, school environment, teacher quality, and more. To view a 2018-2019 school or district report card to the public, go to https://education.alaska.gov/compass/report-card. Once there, you will be able to select which school or district report card to the public you wish to view. If you are unable to access the report cards to the public online, please contact your school’s administration.
GCSD delights to serve all of our new and returning families and students. Please contact me at the phone number above or the email address below if you would like to discuss any aspect of this letter in greater detail, or if you would like more information on any district initiative.
Jim Merriner, GCSD Superintendent