Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Anchorage summer school gains popularity

ANCHORAGE - Almost twice as many Anchorage students will be taking summer school classes compared to four years ago, with some back in the classroom as early as Monday.

That means about one in 10 Anchorage students will take summer school classes.

High school students are increasingly using summer school to make up for bad grades or failed classes, to get ahead on required courses, or for extra help to pass the exit exam, now required for graduation.

But there's something new this year: an assortment of nonremedial classes, or electives, including fun classes like band and art. The School Board earlier this year approved using $283,000 for these new offerings.

Jim Bailey, who has overseen the district's high school program since 1986, largely credits the growing summer enrollment to more opportunities for students. It used to be kids could only come if they had failed a class, Bailey said. Now it's open, and students are showing they want to take advantage of that, he said.

"If you open it up and let them do it without charging them too much money, I think easily you could see 20 percent of the high school students in summer school," Bailey said.

Fire crews attempt to contain blaze

ANCHORAGE - Fire crews were trying to contain a 59,000-acre blaze outside Fort Yukon Monday, helped by the absence of the strong winds that more than doubled the size of the fire over the weekend.

Winds calmed on Monday, helping the approximately 270 firefighters assigned to the fire. However, the weather remained sunny and warm, said fire operations chief Rob Allen.

Hot, dry and smoky conditions were expected to continue, and fire managers worried that predicted light ground winds could fuel the blaze. They hoped to gain the upper hand by attacks from the ground and air.

"It's a big day for us in terms of an air show," said fire information officer Kris Eriksen.

Fire officials said the Sheenjek River Fire fanned by winds to 30 mph grew from 23,500 acres early Saturday to 59,000 acres by Saturday night, but the blaze remained north of the Porcupine River, keeping the community out of immediate danger.

Wind diminished somewhat Sunday but inclement weather in Fairbanks kept airplanes grounded. Eriksen said the four CL-215s - bright yellow water scoopers - were expected to arrive Monday.

Law enforcement consortium awarded

JUNEAU - A statewide consortium of law enforcement agencies announced that it has won an international police technology award for its information-sharing system.

The Alaska Law Enforcement Information Sharing System, an initiative using a technology called COPLINK, announced it has won the technology leadership award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The technology makes it possible for investigators to search a database using known facts of a crime and produce qualified leads in seconds. The program builds computerized "institutional memory."

"Alaska may be the Last Frontier, but our law enforcement agencies are proud to be known as an international pioneer of best practices in establishing multi-jurisdictional information sharing initiatives," said Juneau Assistant Chief of Police Greg Browning, Chairman of the ALEISS Consortium, in a written statement.

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