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Two Nome School Board Members Re-Elected, Talk Elementary School Improvement

a woman stands smiling looking to the left, as two seated women look on and applaud in a school library.

*UPDATE: Nome esports team has to forfeit their first match this week. According to staff with Nome Public Schools, the team does not have the necessary operating systems in place yet.*

The Nome School Board deviated from their standard Tuesday meetings last week, meeting on Monday instead. First up on the agenda was swearing in the members of the board up for re-election this year, Darlene Trigg and Barb Amarok, who both retained their positions.

Then, the fully sworn in board approved the September 2019 disbursements, meaning all out of state travel requests were approved as well.

One of the first topics of discussion during the School Board meeting was teacher housing. Superintendent Jamie Burgess says that the Nome school district is applying for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation’s Teacher Housing Grant, which would cover about 85% of the cost for teacher housing. Burgess hopes that would allow teacher housing to be in town.

Next, Burgess stated Nome Elementary School was designated by the state as a “school for comprehensive improvement” last year, by having an achievement rate in the bottom 5% of Title I schools. However, the school has improved since then, scoring above that 5% minimum, also known as a cut score.

“But as long as they continue to score above that cut score, at the end of the three year period – we have to continue to hold that designation for three years – if they’re above that, then they will exit and we’ll no longer be on school improvement.”

The Nome School Board now has a student representative, senior Ava Earthman. Among Earthman’s report was a sports recap focused on cross country and volleyball events earlier in October.

“This past weekend [October 5th] for cross country, Natalie Tobuk, Tobin Hobbs, and I went to state and that went well. Then last weekend [October 5th and 6th], the volleyball team – the volleyball girls – went to Bethel, and I heard they won both games. And this weekend [October 11th and 12th] it’s pinkies so they’re also super excited about that.”

Among other sports updates, Aaron Blankenship, one of the new esports coaches, gave an update on how the new team looks.

“Approximately sixteen students interested, and the deadline was last Friday so we have ten students, five playing the hit game League of Legends, and Rocket League only has teams of three, so we have one team of three and two substitute players.”

Coach Blankenship went on to state that the first match will be this week, with more details to come later, but as of now, the ordered computer parts have not arrived. Nome High School Principal Jay Thomas also added that Senator Murkowski’s office has donated five computers to the team.

Lastly, the board approved their main priority for the coming year: optimizing the strategic equity framework, a plan for school improvement that Superintendent Burgess says was introduced a few years ago but has not up until this point been “operationalized.”

The Nome School Board will meet again on October 22nd for a work session.

Image at top: School Board member Darlene Trigg being sworn in last October, 2018. Photo by Katie Kazmierski/KNOM

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