Anchorage school board members will come together Tuesday evening for a regularly scheduled meeting. On the agenda is a proposal to collect data from other districts that have alternative school schedules, including year-round and four day school weeks. 

The Anchorage School District has floated the idea of year-round school before. 

"It's not been real popular," said School Board President Starr Marsett. 

Marsett says the reason the concepts are coming up again, is in part, because of budget cuts. 

"Part of that is not knowing what our budget is going to be next year. So, we're just looking at every possibility and how we can provide good education to our students," Marsett said. 

The proposal includes examining outcomes with year-round schooling around the country. Some research suggests a positive impact on student retention. 

"A lot of students come back after the summer, and you spend several months just catching them up again," Marsett said. 

Also in response to budget uncertainty, the Anchorage School Board is pulling together a steering committee to create a five-year strategic plan for education. The effort will replace the district's current Destination 2020 initiative next year. According to Marsett, the steering committee will include business groups, non-profits, and faith-based organizations. 

"What we're asking for is a commitment from the community to help us because educating students is so much more than reading, writing and math. We're feeding kids, clothing kids, doing social-emotional learning," Marsett said.

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been an emphasis in the ASD curriculum this year. The goal is to draw students' attention inward, to identify emotions and finds ways to manage them. 

"It's self-awareness, self-management, social relationships," Marsett said.

Marsett says it's also about leading by example and includes training staff to show kindness in the classroom.

"It used to be that if you missed school, you go in and the teacher says 'Johnny, you missed this, this and this, and when are you going to make this up? You just can't not be here,'" Marsett said. "Instead they're saying 'Johnny, I'm so glad you're back. We missed you.'"

On Wednesday, Marsett sent the following statement, clarifying her comments about year-round school and four-day schedules:

"I would like to clarify comments I made yesterday regarding the subject of year-round school and four-day schedules. Neither of these concepts are a School Board agenda item, nor are they proposed agenda items. To be clear, the Anchorage School Board is not considering year-round or four-day schedules for the Anchorage School District.

The previous reference to these programs was merely a Board member’s request for information to the Administration. During Board discussions, members routinely ask for more information on a variety of topics related to education. These requests inform the Board’s ongoing conversation about education in our District and are just one part of our process. Requests for information should not be interpreted as formal agenda items or even proposed agenda items."

The school board's meeting was held at 6 p.m. at the ASD Education Center on Northern Lights Boulevard. 

You can email school board members at schoolboard@asdk12.org.

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