Superintendent’s Corner

Dear GCSD Families and Community Members:

We are halfway through April and the end of the school year is coming into greater focus. As April brings longer days and more activities outside, it also focuses GCSD’s attention on statewide testing, facilities planning, and budget development for the next school year.

GCSD recently completed statewide testing on the new PEAKS (Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools) assessments. This the second year the state has utilized this format of assessments. It is important for our parents to understand that it will take the state and GCSD a couple of years to adjust to the new assessments and to be able to make reasonable decisions from the data embedded within the assessments. When GCSD receives our results on the PEAKS assessments later this spring, we will have two years of data points, which will not provide enough longitudinal data to provide a clear enough picture of specific areas within our curriculum and instruction that will need to be addressed based on our assessment results. Two years of data will, however, provide a sense of potential trends that will warrant discussions on how best the district might best begin addressing these opportunities for improvement. It is also important to remember that the PEAKS assessment is only one data point that needs to be considered in combination with other student learning data resources the district is utilizing: Achieve3000, STAR Math, and individual student work from our students’ current courses and content areas. It is the district’s responsibility to utilize as wide a breath of student learning data to develop the clearest picture for each of our students, our grade levels, our schools, and the district as a whole. As soon as the district receives our PEAKS student assessment reports, we will share immediately with our parents.

April also provides an opportunity for the district to focus on potential major maintenance needs of the district. Currently GCSD is focused on gathering more information on three potential projects.

  • Architects Alaska has completed 95% design development documents for the remodel of the Headquarters building on the GILA campus into a state-of-the-art science and math facility that will, if funding for the construction of the project can be secured, provide seven additional classrooms dedicated specifically to science and math. Architects Alaska’s next phase is to complete 100% design development documents.
  • Architects Alaska is also developing a condition survey for the Composite building on the GILA campus to determine potential energy upgrades and address current American Disabilities Act (ADA) and International Building Code (IBC) violations that currently exist in the building. Once the conditions survey is completed, this document will serve as the foundation for the development of 65% design development documents that the district will prioritize for the next Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Major Maintenance grant application that is due on September 1, 2018.
  • Architects Alaska is also developing a facilities utilization plan for the SHS Elementary building to improve the utilization of the building to best meet the instructional programs currently housed in our elementary program. Architects Alaska is developing two concepts. Concept A is focused on reutilizing the current SHS High School building to house the elementary program as a contingency plan if funding is secured for the Headquarters project. Concept B is focused on reutilizing the current SHS Elementary building to maximize the instructional spaces for student learning.

Lastly, GCSD is in the process of developing our FY 19 budget for the 2018-19 school year. GCSD has been fortunate that we have budgeted conservatively in the past, which has allowed us to have monies available for capital projects and to take care of boarding home needs.  Given where we are with the FY 18 budget, it strongly appears that GCSD will have less flexibility with monies as we plan for the future. Recent multi-year “flat funding” from the state and inflationary costs are proving to be costly despite the enrollment increases the district has experienced. GCSD’s enrollment grew by 5% last year and during the last six years has grown by approximately 1000 students. Despite these enrollment gains, the costs of conducting our school business, especially with our Galena-based programs, is growing at a rate that will be difficult to sustain at our current levels unless additional revenue can be secured. I recommend that our stakeholders prepare for tighter GCSD budgets in the coming years and be open for discussions on how best GCSD can maximize the funding available to meet the learning needs of each of our students.

In closing, thank you for sharing your child(ren) with GCSD. Our student population is a special resource to our community and our state. What a privilege it is to be able to work with students from every corner of the state and to help shape our state’s future. Please contact me at the phone number above or the email address below if there is any additional information that I can share about any of the items noted in this letter.

Yours in education,

Chris Reitan, GCSD Superintendent



Letters from the Superintendent

 April 2018 Parent and Community Member Letter 02/23/2018
 February 2018 Parent Letter 02/23/2018
January 2018 Parent Letter 01/26/2018
 December 2017 Parent Letter 12/15/2017
November 2017 Parent Letter 11/21/2017
GCSD October 2017 Parent Letter 10/05/2017
September 5 2017 Stakeholder Strategic Plan Letter and Draft 2018-20 Strategic Plan 09/05/2017
 GCSD August 2017 Parent Letter 08/12/2017
 GCSD May 2017 Family Letter 05/12/2017
 GCSD April 2017 Family Letter 04/24/2017
 GCSD Strategic Plan Stakeholder Survey Letter 04/17/2017
 March 2017 Parent Letter 03/21/2017
 February 2017 Parent Letter 02/20/2017
 January 2017 Parent Letter 01/20/2017
 December 2016 Parent Letter 12/19/2016
 November 2016 Parent Letter 11/18/2016
 October 2016 Parent Letter 10/20/2016
 September 2016 Parent Letter 09/15/2016