It sounds like Petersburg’s school board will not be expanding in the near future.

Board president Jean Ellis this summer asked superintendent Rob Thomason to look into expansion from a five person board to a seven person board as a way to assure enough board members are present at each meeting.

Thomason reported back the results of his research on the issue Tuesday with only three of the five board members at the August monthly meeting. Thomason told the board it would take a charter change approved by local voters to expand board membership and he said it could expand the length of meetings. “Even though you may hopefully increase your attendance rate at meetings you also increase, research says you increase the length of meetings because the discussion gets longer because there’s exponential discussion that takes place,” he said. “So there were a lot of reasons to kinda rethink that and if at some point in the future the board would see fit to go from five to seven members the process is there.”

Thomason thought the charter change could take about 18 months. Board president Ellis said she would not pursue the issue. “And after discussing with Rob what he had found and how it worked, I decided OK we’ll stick with this. I think my frustration is that it is hard to get enough people at the meetings. It seems like just three people making some important decisions doesn’t seem like a lot of people.”

The board took no action on the issue Tuesday. Board members did hear from administrators and staff about preparations for the start of the new school year. Teachers go back to work next week and students have their first day the following week, on Tuesday September 3rd. Maintenance director Tye Peterson detailed some of the work that’s been completed in the school buildings over the summer. That includes remodeling of the elementary school library along with painting, new curtains and carpet in the auditorium.

High school and middle school principal Rick Dormer also discussed the leadup to the new year. “People who are listening or people here who have kids, again we register kids next week, so that’s happening,” Dormer said. “So parents are hopefully ready time to go in and pay some of the fees, laptop rollouts begin next week, so a lot of the high school kids will get their laptops next week, middle school kids getting signed up for classes talking about their activities that will start soon. So, we’re in full bore and just remind everybody to, hopefully you got something in the mail and information’s on the website. Parents out there if you need to register, if you’re wondering when to do that.”

In other updates, activities director Jaime Cabral told the board that activity fees have gone up to $100, from $80. There’s also a $340 cap for families with multiple students or students in more than one sport.
Six grade students will be able to take part in school sponsored sports travel this year in cross country, track, basketball, cheer leading, wrestling and volleyball. Cross country and track are new additions to the middle school offerings and six graders, starting this year, are allowed to join seventh and eighth graders on one trip a year for each sport.

The board approved a new bussing contract with local company Stikine Services. The contract includes a two percent increase and is for just under $160,000 dollars. The district receives state funding to cover the costs of pupil transportation.

The board also approved a six-year Capital Improvement Project list that’s submitted to the state for possible funding of future projects or reimbursement for work that’s already been done. Topping the list is a one-point-five million dollar food service renovation project.