Superintendent’s Corner

October 22, 2020

Dear GCSD Families and Community Members:

Trust this letter finds you and yours safe and healthy. Let’s begin with some fun facts about October 2020:

  • Two full moons during October (rare) … the Harvest Moon was on October 1 and the Hunter’s Moon (both a Halloween Full Moon and a Blue Moon) is on October 31.
  • Orionid Meteor Shower … Best viewed on the 21st and 22nd, this shower has up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. Produced by dust grains left behind by Halley’s comet, the best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Concentrated around the constellation Orion, meteors can also appear elsewhere in the sky. Fingers crossed for clear skies.

A more sobering fact about October 2020 is that we’re still smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA Commissioner, recently said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “We’re going to have to endure this wave of spread right now and it’s probably likely to be the biggest wave that we endure.” Dr. Gottlieb stated that 45 states currently suffer increasing COVID-19 infections. The title of a recent Anchorage Daily News’ cover article is “Alaska is approaching 4 weeks of triple-digit daily COVID-19 case counts in an unprecedented surge.” 200 years ago German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe penned fitting advice for us today, “Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” We’ll get through this together… one disinfecting wipe at a time.

I want to take this opportunity to THANK our students and staff for continuing to adhere to the onerous (yes, onerous) COVID-19 mitigation protocols (physical distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, disinfecting)! Galena approaches the two-month mark for in-person education, for this we must be thankful and stay vigilant. Also, a huge THANK YOU to our parents/guardians and to our community for supporting COVID-19 mitigation protocols in order to do our utmost to protect each other and to enable in-person education for as long as possible in Galena.

October is an important month for school districts across Alaska because it is the foundational period for determining each school district’s state funding for the school year. The student count period this year runs from September 28 to October 23. As our enrollment currently stands, GCSD is anticipating our largest enrollment district-wide since the district’s inception in 1974. I believe our continued increased enrollment is a direct result of the choices we have proudly provided our families, the partnerships we have developed with our families, and the high quality staff that GCSD has been fortunate to attract to serve our families and students. Because of GCSD’s robust enrollment, we thankfully are able to continue providing the school choice programs of excellence for which we are recognized.

October is also an important month because of local elections. America’s public education system is founded on the belief that the best decisions are made at the local level. During the October elections, GCSD welcomed new Board member Marylee Kauffman (Seat C) and re-elected Board member Karin Bodony (Seat D). GCSD is pleased that they have both stepped up to represent all of our stakeholders as they provide the governance and policy leadership to shape the growth of the district. The October Board meeting is also the month that the GCSD Board reorganizes its leadership positions. The GCSD Board reorganized in the following manner:

  • Jenny Bryant – GCSD Board President
  • Karin Bodony – GCSD Board Vice President
  • Shirley Cleaver – GCSD Board Treasurer
  • Fred Huntington – GCSD Board Secretary
  • Marylee Kauffman – Board Member

In closing, 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.

Yours in Education,

Jim Merriner, GCSD Superintendent