School to shut its doors

Declining enrollment, money woes blamed for Alyeska closure

Posted: Sunday, January 14, 2007

After a four-year struggle to stay open, a correspondence school located in Juneau will close at the end of the academic year.

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The state-wide Alyeska Central School is closing because of financial difficulties caused by declining enrollment, said the superintendent of schools for the Yukon Koyukuk School District, the district that runs the school.

While making the announcement on Friday, officials said there are 127 students are enrolled at ACS. But there were 180 students expected.

"The current staff is a dedicated staff of teachers. That's commendable, but we can't make ends meet," Superintendent Christopher Simon said.

Alyeska receives 80 percent of the usual state per-student funding. The decline in enrollment has cost the school $106,538 in anticipated funding this year, on top of a $400,000 shortfall from the previous two years.

The school will close in June. It is located on Channel Drive.

In 2003, the Murkowski administration announced a plan to close the school as part of budget-trimming measures. Before then, the school enrolled about 600 full-time students and employed about 40 teachers and support staff.

In 2004, the Yukon Koyukuk School District won a bid against the Juneau and Galena school districts to take over ACS, but enrollment started to drop rapidly. The school was soon cursed with financial difficulties and eventually laid off almost all its support staff. In June, the school temporarily locked its doors.

The school now employs three teachers, one principal and one administrative assistant. All tenured certified staff will be offered contracts for the 2007-2008 school year by Yukon Koyukuk School District, according to the press release. A teacher reached by phone on Friday declined to comment about the closing.

About 30 students from Juneau are enrolled in the program, Simon said. He added the students could be absorbed into other correspondence schools such as the Raven Correspondence School the Yukon Koyukuk School District operates.

• Will Morris may be reached at william.morris@juneauempire.com.



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