Petersburg’s middle and high schools have a high rate of participation in extracurricular activities; at least 80 percent. Last year it was up to 88 percent.
The school board voted to increase fees for those activities and to change the grade requirements for students to participate in them.
The School Board decided to raise activity fees for the high school from $120 to $150. The board increased the middle school activity fees from $50 to $60 except sixth graders would pay $30. And the board increased the cap from $500 to $650.
Activities Director, Jaime Cabral, told the school board that even with the increases the fees are still on the low end. He says they’re some of the cheapest in the state.
“Looking at those fees still, amazingly, amazingly affordable,” Cabral said. “Given the time that we’re in and just looking at the continuity and all of our activities and travel.”
Cabral says there is a limited ferry schedule coming up again next winter, which will mean the district will spend more money on plane travel. He says he’s been booking for next year’s activities as far in advance as possible to save money.
“It saved us a ton of money to book in May, June for September, October, November, December,” Cabral said, “saved us a ton of money just on travel.”
There will continue to be scholarships available for students who cannot afford the fees.
The school district has decided to end travel for sixth graders with the exception of going to Wrangell because of it’s close proximity. The change will affect a middle school track meet in Ketchikan, although 7th and 8th graders would still travel to it.
Principal Rick Dormer says the decision was made for two reasons—age and money.
“It’s a little long getting down there and back and our high school kids go also, which is awesome, but I don’t love having sixth graders with seniors on the ferry for a long time,” Dormer said. “It’s just, they’re pretty young.”
Other changes the district has made to extracurricular activities are requiring stricter grades at the high school in order to participate. The old policy allowed no D, Fs, or incompletes on the current grade checks that happened every few weeks. If students had bad grades they were ineligible to compete or travel until their grades improved. But students could get one “D waiver” a year from administration to be eligible.
Cabral says some students banked on having the waiver and would postpone their studies.
“And so we wanted something a little bit clearer, a little bit simpler to follow,” Cabral said.
So, the school has gotten rid of the “D waiver” and added something else: a petition form. Students with a “D” or worse are automatically ineligible for activities for seven calendar days. But at the end of those seven days the student–if they want– can fill out an academic petition form, which the parents have to sign as well. The principal and teacher will either approve or disapprove the petition depending on if the student is making improvements.
If students don’t fill out a petition form they’ll be eligible again when grade checks show no Ds, Fs, or Is.
There are no limits to how many petitions students can fill out in a year. Cabral says the point is to have students keep trying to do better in class instead of giving up.
“Now they know that they still have a chance but regardless you’re going to be done for seven days,” Cabral said. “But yet still have a carrot at the end of the tunnel for these kids that may be struggling a little bit and it’s all student driven. So, we’re not going to go and fill this out for the student, the student has to fill this out and set up a meeting with the principal or designee.”
Another change to the student handbook is an added guideline for fundraising. It details how to run things like concessions, raffle tickets, and seaweed-selling.
The school board approved the changes to the student handbook unanimously.
Also at the last meeting, the school board accepted the resignation of school board member, Janine Gibbons. The school board is now looking for someone to fill that seat until the October municipal election. More information can be found at the district office, (877) 526-7656.