Juneau School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller speaks during the Board of Education regular meeting Tuesday night. (Gregory Philson | Juneau Empire)

Juneau School District Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller speaks during the Board of Education regular meeting Tuesday night. (Gregory Philson | Juneau Empire)

Board mulls reduced size, switch to diesel to save auto shop

If the Juneau School District automotive program is going to make a return for the 2018-19 school year, the shop itself may have to reduced in size.

Board President Brian Holst asked Superintendent Dr. Mark Miller to give an update on where the automotive program stands during the Board of Education regular meeting at Juneau-Douglas High School Tuesday. The program is part of the Fiscal Year 2019 $3.5 million budget cuts and would cost the district $40,000 for use at University of Alaska Southeast Technical Education Center, across from JDHS. On April 25, the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly heard public testimony asking for help in keeping the program at the district.

“I talked to Dr. (Richard A.) Caulfield (UAS Chancellor) today (Tuesday) and that will be the last time I will get to speak with him for a week,” Miller said. “The cost of renting the shop for a year, with heat and maintenance, is $40,000. (UAS) is in a budget situation where they feel that is the best they can offer.”

Miller added that he has had discussions with automotive teacher Steve Squires on what could be options in the future for the program.

“We looked at options about reducing our footprint,” Miller said. “I suggested the offer that we take half the building for the half the price. Mr. Squires did not feel he could run the program (with that reduced space). I think it may be a discussion we will have to revisit. If we decide we can do it, we will have to decide if that is something the board wants to do.”

Miller said he recently visited the program and suggested members of the board also visit the program before making a decision, if one is needed. He also suggested that because UAS has moved to diesel training, the school may want to decide to switch the program to that area to better fit the careers in the mining industry having knowledge with diesel engines could provide. Currently, classes Auto Mechanics I, II and part of Intro to Auto are taught at UAS.

“I took a class in 8th grade that was about VHS repair and there is now not a market for that,” Miller said. “The world we are training students for is changing and maybe it is possible to change to a diesel program.”

School recognizes staff leaving, retiring

The school board also honored those leaving the district with a short presentation and a gift of a cutting board made by students in wood shop. The school board thanked the service of: Dorothy Williams (Special Education Paraeducator, Mendenhall River Community School); Melinda “Cricket” Curtain (Athletics and Activities Assistant, Juneau-Douglas High School); Kristina Kierman (Special Edcuation Pre-K Teacher, Riverbend Elementary School); Susan Nachitgal (Art Teacher, FDMS); David Ringle (Technology/Advancement Via Individual Determination teacher, Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School); Florence Sheakley (Tlingit Language teacher, JDHS, Thunder Mountain High School); Robert Eddy (Tlingit Culture Language & Literacy 2nd, 3rd grade teacher, Harborview Elementary School); Jennifer Thompson (1st grade teacher, Harborview Elementary School); David Means, Director of Administrative Services; Karen Nelson (Recreation Arts Learning Leadership for Youth (RALLY) Assistant Site Manager, Mendenhall River); and Michelle Byer (Principal, Riverbend Elementary School).

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