To save money, the Juneau School District will move Yaakoosge Daakahidi, the alternative high school, to the basement of Harborview Elementary School, officials said at Tuesday's School Board meeting.
"Yaakoos" Principal Ronalda Cadiente said the move would allow the school to retain its separate identity and add more space, and would still save the district money.
District officials "understand the work that we do and the climate being so important," Cadiente said in an interview.
The district has been paying about $75,000 a year to lease space on 12th Street for Yaakoosge Daakahidi - "House of Knowledge" in Tlingit - which serves about 90 students. About 35 Yaakoos students graduate each year.
The district had planned to move Yaakoos to the Marie Drake building, which is next to Juneau-Douglas High School and is used by the larger school for some classes.
But staff and many students at Yaakoos were concerned that the school would lose its identity in the Drake building. In a contained environment, staff and students get to know each other, and students are accountable for their behavior, Cadiente said.
Students would be more likely to drop out of JDHS rather than enroll in the alternative school, Yaakoos students said.
Of the 36 Yaakoos students surveyed about the move earlier this year, 24 opposed it, five were indifferent and seven supported it.
Students who favored the move were more willing to interact with JDHS students and be involved in after-school activities.
The district is moving the school as part of a package of about $2.17 million in possible cuts to balance next school year's budget. Some district offices would move from Harborview to the Marie Drake building to accommodate Yaakoos.
Cadiente said the space at Harborview is "substantially larger" than the school's current quarters. The classrooms at Yaakoos are cramped and some don't have windows.
Eric Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.