October Family & Community Letter (10/26/2021)

October 26, 2021

Dear CCSD Families and Community Members,

October is an important month for our island-based communities as it is when the local elections are held. Our public education system is founded on the belief that the best decisions are made at the local level and our local elections serve as the cornerstone for public participation in our school district operations.  On Wednesday, October 13, 2021, the CCSD School Board met in a special meeting; the purpose of the special meeting was for the newest Board members to take their oath of office and for the Board to reorganize its leadership positions.  CCSD is pleased to welcome back Joel Steenstra for another three-year term and welcome our newest board member, Trish Conatser.  CCSD also appreciates the work, time, and commitment Daniel Nelson provided the district and our community during his four-year term.  The CCSD School Board is comprised of the following members for the 2021-2022 school year:

  • Scott Brookshire - President
  • Joel Steenstra – Vice President
  • Tristan Douville - Secretary
  • Marla Dillman
  • Trish Conatser
  • Sam Bass, CCSD Student Board Representative

The month of October is a busy month for school districts across the state.  October marks the annual student count period for each school district.  This count period provides a significant percentage of the revenue districts will receive this year to serve students.  The four-week student count period ran from Monday, September 27 through Friday, October 22, and CCSD couldn’t be more pleased with how the student count period is shaping up.  CCSD currently has 226 students attending our community-based schools and approximately 500 students attending our PACE homeschool program.  Three years ago, CCSD established the goal of doubling our homeschool enrollment and we are pleased to state that we have exceeded that goal.    CCSD fully recognizes that families across the island and across the state have a multitude of choices to draw from to develop the strongest educational program for their children.  Our staff members fully embrace this understanding and have worked hard to ensure that CCSD is improving the curricula choices, flexibility in scheduling, and the customer service provided to families.

During the first two months of school CCSD has also been prioritizing building maintenance needs.  On September 1, 2021, CCSD submitted two Major Maintenance Grant applications to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.  CCSD’s #1 priority is our CMS Code and Security Improvements project.  CCSD’s #2 priority is our CES Mechanical, ADA, and Security Upgrades project.  Last year, the CMS Code and Security Improvements project was ranked #2 out of 108 grant applications submitted across the state.  Unfortunately, no projects were funded through the legislative process last spring.   CCSD has also submitted a grant application for additional funding for the CHS Biomass project.  On Thursday, October 14, CCSD submitted a request to the SE AK Sustainable Strategies funding source for additional funding for our CHS Biomass project.  CCSD has secured $833,913 towards the design, development, and construction of a wood chip biomass heat system for our high school. The project went out to bid last spring and CCSD received one qualified bid of $1,531,078 resulting in a shortfall of $697,165.  Due to COVID-19 supply shortages, shipping concerns, escalation in supplies and labor costs, the project could not be completed based on our October 2020 estimations.  CCSD has applied for gap funding of $697,165. 

In closing, CCSD thanks our island community members for the support and guidance you have provided the district.  As noted above, the best decisions are made at the local level and CCSD values our stakeholder’s engagement with our work to continually improve the educational opportunities we provide our students on POW and statewide through our homeschool/correspondence program, PACE.  If you would like to discuss any of the items noted in this letter or any district initiative in greater detail, please don’t hesitate to call me at 826-3274 or email me at the address below.   I’d welcome the opportunity to continue the dialogue. 

Chris Reitan, CCSD Superintendent                                                                  

Email: creitan@craigschools.com