Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Sampson rewards education excellence

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JUNEAU - The state will be awarding school districts $1.85 million worth of incentive payments earned during the most recent school year, Education Commissioner Roger Sampson said Tuesday.

The payments will go to educators and support staff whose students showed marked improvement from the previous school year in reading, writing and math.

For the most recent school year, 770 staff members at 42 schools in 15 districts will share in $1.76 million in incentive payments. Additionally, those district employees who work in several of these schools collectively will receive slightly more than $88,000.

Depending on the success ranking - strong being the lowest, outstanding being the highest - teachers and principals could earn from $2,500 to $5,500; support staff not holding teaching certificates can earn from $1,000 to $2,500.

Of the 42 schools, 12 received a rating of strong; 14 were deemed high; six ranked excellent and 10 were rated outstanding.

Schools qualifying came from large districts such as Anchorage as well as small districts like Hoonah and Haines in the southeast region.

"We know that when everyone on a school staff, from the custodians to the principal, create a learning environment designed to meet each students needs in these critical subject areas, student achievement will increase," Sampson said in a prepared statement.

Engine problems take ferry out of service

JUNEAU - The state ferry Columbia will be out of service for at least the remainder of the week with engine problems, officials with the Alaska Marine Highway System said Tuesday.

The Columbia's starboard engine went down early Monday morning as it was traveling northbound to Juneau.

About 270 passengers bound for Haines and Skagway aboard the Columbia were affected by the mechanical failure.

Other state ferries, including the LeConte and the Fairweather, were to deliver Columbia passengers to their destinations.

The state has received permission from the Coast Guard to sail the Columbia to Ketchikan for repairs. Technical representatives from Seattle are flying to Ketchikan to oversee the repairs.

The Columbia's sailing from Haines to Bellingham, Wash., on Monday was canceled.

School district hires 20 new teachers

JUNEAU - The Juneau School District hired 20 new teachers in July and August.

Superintendent Peggy Cowan said that most of the new hires replaced teachers retiring.

Cowan said the legislature made extra funds available for the 2007-08 school year to improve special education within the district.

Test scores released recently showed deficits in special education reading and writing when compared to Federal No Child Left Behind Act standards.

Three of the 20 new hires hold special education credentials. Five teachers were hired to instruct at Juneau-Douglas High School. Twelve others will work in the district's elementary and middle schools.

District implements new bully policy

JUNEAU - The new Juneau School District anti-bully policy goes into effect at the start of the school year.

Approved last April, the policy seeks to improve the possibility that victims of harassment or bullying will report the abuse to the School District.

Some of the acts covered by the new policy are forced drinking, exposure to elements, forced discomfort or embarrassment, swatting and physical or mental abuse.

Discrimination also is covered under the policy.

Students caught bullying or hazing other students face expulsion. According to the policy, employees would face termination.

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