School district plans to double Yaakoos quarters

The alternative school serves about 100 students and graduates about 40 each year

Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Juneau School District wants to double the space for Yaakoosge Daakahidi, the alternative high school.

The new space would allow the school to add students and staff, and it would create a learning center for the district's correspondence students, Principal Laury Scandling said.

The Juneau School Board is set to consider the plan tonight. The board's Facilities Committee on Monday supported it.

Yaakoosge Daakahidi serves about 100 students, from age 16 on, many of whom are at risk of dropping out. About half the students are from racial and ethnic minorities. The school graduates about 40 students a year.

But Yaakoos is crammed into 4,200 square feet of rented quarters on 12th Street across from the school district's central office. Some classrooms are small or oddly shaped and don't have windows.

"I am very grateful for the recognition of the school's needs," Scandling said. "I think anyone who walks through here within a moment realizes the space is inadequate for an educational facility."

Under the proposal, Yaakoos would take over the district's central office building, with 8,600 square feet.

It would hold five classrooms, a combination commons and computer lab, a staff lounge and a staff work room, storage, administrative offices, a conference room, an office for the district's correspondence program and a learning center for those students.

Some central office staff would move to the space now occupied by Yaakoos, and others would move to the basement at Harborview Elementary, which houses other administrative programs.

The district would have to find space for the School Board to meet, such as a school library or the city's Assembly chambers, officials said.

The Yaakoos move probably would be for the long term, Superintendent Peggy Cowan said. But once the Dimond Park high school is completed in fall 2008, the district might use space in the Marie Drake annex at Juneau-Douglas High School for central offices.

The district pays about $75,000 a year for the current Yaakoos space. It is in the first year of a three-year lease.

The move would cost about $67,000, the district has estimated. That includes tearing down and adding some temporary walls and replacing a phone system that now costs $6,000 a year to repair, officials said.

If the School Board approves the plan, the move would take place this summer. Because the move would tie up some maintenance staff, it would cause other maintenance projects to be delayed, officials said.

Yaakoos' new space would hold 25 to 30 more students that it enrolls now, Cowan said, "and it would hold them a lot more comfortably."

Scandling said the school's maximum enrollment while maintaining its personalized atmosphere might be 118 students.

That's enough to trigger a fifth teacher under the district's current policy for allotting high school staff. Scandling said she'd hire a science teacher, which would free up the math teacher to offer Algebra II, a prerequisite to college.

"I want to be able to offer higher-level math and start linking these kids to colleges," she said.

The new space also allows the district to offer a site where its roughly 65 correspondence students, including some Yaakoos students, can get help from a teacher.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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