Alaska Digest

Staff and wire reports

Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2003

Teachers, district back to the table

JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board agreed Saturday to hold a mediation session with the teachers' union, the Juneau Education Association.

A date has not been set, said School Board President Mary Becker.

The district and teachers have not reached agreement on a contract for this school year. The parties differ on raises and preparation time for elementary school teachers.

The JEA asked the district in a letter to return to mediation, Becker said.

Negotiations and mediation sessions have failed to produce a contract so far. The dispute is being heard by an arbitrator, whose decision is not binding on the parties. The arbitrator's decision is expected by early December, but the parties are free to reach an agreement on their own.

School enrollment down

JUNEAU - The Juneau School District has about 30 fewer students than expected this school year, but it will get about $94,000 more state money than it budgeted for, officials said.

The average daily enrollment during the state's formal count period in October, which determines state funding for the school year, was the equivalent of 5,427 full-time students, down from the 5,457 the district expected.

Although the district has fewer regular students than it projected, it has 12 more students with intensive special needs than it expected. Those special-needs students are funded by the state at about $20,000 each, resulting in more state funding overall.

The district expects to have to hire more special-education teachers and aides, said Superintendent Peggy Cowan.

Those hires will cost more than the $94,000 in extra funding. The Juneau School Board will discuss this year's special-education budget at a work session and the regular meeting Tuesday. The work session starts at 5 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 6 p.m.

"We've asked Peggy (Cowan) to come up with the most immediate needs and the amount of money necessary," said School Board President Mary Becker.

The district had 5,511 students last school year. A comparison of this school year's official count with last year's shows about 40 fewer students at Juneau-Douglas High School and six fewer middle school students.

Juneau doctor honored

JUNEAU - Dr. Ken Brown of Juneau has received the George Longenbaugh Memorial Award, one of the governor's annual awards for emergency medical services.

The awards, sponsored by the Alaska Council on Emergency Medical Services, were presented Saturday at the 26th Annual Alaska EMS Awards Banquet at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage.

Brown's award "honors a physician who exemplifies leadership and dedication to EMS systems and, through his or her efforts, has significantly promoted the Alaska EMS system," the council said in a prepared statement.

Brown is medical director for Capital City Fire and Rescue and is a member of the Alaska Council on EMS.

Tobacco companies cut school magazine ads

JUNEAU - Four major tobacco companies agreed last week to remove tobacco ads from magazines that are sent to U.S. schools each week.

Tobacco advertising appears regularly in the magazines Time, Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report, and through the publications' school programs the ads head straight to classrooms across the nation, including some in Juneau.

Between January 2002 and June 2003, approximately 120 tobacco ads appeared in the three magazines.

Following a request in June from the National Association of Attorneys General, four tobacco companies - Brown & Williams Tobacco Corp., Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. - agreed to remove the ads.

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