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Nome Public Schools’ Board Meeting Outlines Board Priorities for Current School Year

Nome board members sitting at desks inside of a room
Members of the Nome School Board during a work session in February, 2020. Photo from Joe Coleman, KNOM (2020).

In the most recent Nome School Board meeting on November 10, 2020, board members approved the audit report for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, as well as the Board’s priorities for the current school year.

Nome Public Schools Superintendent Jamie Burgess outlined the three priorities identified by the Board during a retreat held in late October.

“First the Nome Public Schools Board of Education, in concert with the district administration, will elaborate and support the implementation of the strategic equity framework. This was a priority that was begun last year, and we want to continue working and making progress. The second one: Nome Public Schools, in concert with NACTEC and the UAF Northwest Campus will revitalize the NPS Career and Technical Education Program. And third, NPS will sustain and grow the Inupiaq Immersion Program.”

– Superintendent Jamie Burgess

In addition, the Board also approved the audit report for fiscal year 2019-2020, which Superintendent Burgess said went “particularly positively.”

In her Superintendent report, Burgess addressed concerns regarding an overall decrease in student enrollment and the effects that may have on the district’s budget for next year.

Factors such as the number of students who opt for home-schooling or Extensions Correspondence instruction are still unknown.

“We also don’t know as far as funding from the state because it’s very early, and due to our ballot-counting procedures, [as of November 10th] we still don’t have some final elections around the state. So, the Legislature needs time to organize, and that will give us probably some idea of where the majorities and minorities are and what some of the projected impacts on the education budget are going forward.”

– Jamie Burgess

However, Superintendent Burgess contends that if the district “went ahead and projected the worst-case scenario to the state… we’d still be in a pretty good position for next year regardless.”s

Also during the School Board meeting, Nome-Beltz Principal Jay Thomas acknowledged the staffing problem the high school is facing this year. As a result, Thomas says teachers are having to take on much more this school year.

Principal Thomas states NBHS is shorthanded in SPED positions, custodians, and substitute teachers. Principal Thomas reported that there only two custodians at Nome-Beltz, as well as vacant SPED teacher positions that the school has not been able to fill.

“So, it’s a challenge, and we don’t see an easy solution to it. But as you see our folks, our teachers that are in the buildings, just acknowledging that it is a different year and a challenging year would be a good thing.”

– Principal Jay Thomas

Last week, Nome Public Schools announced that students would finish out the rest of the semester via distance-learning as a result of the increase in COVID-19 cases in Nome. At the earliest, NPS plans to resume in-person learning at the start of spring semester in late January.

The Nome School Board is scheduled to have a work session discussing Nome Elementary School improvement, literacy grant updates, and school discipline data next Tuesday [Dec. 1st].

Image at top: Members of the Nome School Board during a work session in February, 2020. *This photo was taken pre-COVID 19 pandemic. Photo from Joe Coleman, KNOM (2020).

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