November Family & Community Letter (11/21/23)

November 21, 2023


Dear CCSD Parents and Community Members;

This is always an exciting time of year as the holiday season is on our doorsteps; our families, students, and staff members are preparing for our upcoming Thanksgiving break, student holiday programs, and our winter holiday break. It is also a busy time for CCSD as we’ve been addressing some major district initiatives.

During the month of November, CCSD submitted our student count to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development following the four-week count period that ended on October 27, 2023. The four-week student count period is an important time for all Alaska school districts because it ultimately determines the amount of state funding each school district will receive this school year. CCSD is pleased to report that our district-wide enrollment is up 15 students compared to last year. Since the 2018-2019 school year, CCSD’s enrollment has grown 36% district-wide and 92% in our PACE homeschool program. However, we are seeing a steady decline in our Craig enrollment especially in the elementary school where our enrollment has declined 24% since the 2018-2019 school year. Craig Elementary School traditionally expected class sizes ranging between 20 and 25 students per grade level and now we are seeing class sizes that are averaging around 15 per grade level. Most of this decline in enrollment is due to changing demographics in Craig and on POW as we are seeing fewer young families with school-age children on the island and an ever-increasing retirement age population. Craig City School District is extremely fortunate that CCSD, in partnership with our community, established our statewide home school program, PACE, that provides the ability to provide services statewide. The growing enrollment in our home school program helps to offset and protect the programs we can offer in Craig.

As shared in previous communications to our parents, CCSD’s progress with our middle school and elementary school rehabilitation projects has been nothing less than frustrating. CCSD secured a $5,668,124 grant from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development for our middle school project that also includes a $629,792 required local participating share for a total of $6,297,916 in funding. CCSD also secured a $1,905,489 grant from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development for our elementary project with a required local participating share of $211,721 for a total of $2,117,210 in funding. CCSD has gone out for bid twice for these projects and have not been able to move forward because we didn’t experience a competitive bid process; only one contractor bid on our projects each time we went out for bid. Additionally, each bid the district received was substantially above what the projects were estimated to cost. On September 1, 2023, CCSD submitted a new grant application to the Department of Education and Early Development for supplemental funding for our middle and elementary school projects. CCSD’s project is ranked #1 out of a total of 95 grant applications submitted. The next step in the process is that this list will be submitted to the Alaska Legislature during the spring 2024 legislative session. Ultimately, the legislature will determine how much funding to put towards these funding requests, however, since CCSD’s project is ranked #1 there is a strong possibility that our projects will receive this additional funding.

In closing, we would like to express our gratitude to our parents and all community members across POW. Through your continued guidance and support, you have helped shape CCSD into what it is today. As we each prepare to count our blessings during our Thanksgiving break, we can’t thank each of our families enough for providing us the opportunity to work side-by-side and collaboratively develop the best educational programs for each student we are privileged to serve.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday.

Sincerely,

Chris Reitan, CCSD Superintendent

Email: creitan@craigschools.com