The Juneau School District Board of Education voted unanimously to extend Superintendent Bridget Weiss’ contract through 2022 at board meeting at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé Tuesday night.
The contract extension comes after the board completed an evaluation of Weiss’ performance as superintendent, which included staff and community feedback.
“We received about 150 responses” from the community survey, board president Brian Holst said at the meeting. “We got a range of color but most of it was bright and shiny.”
In a summary of the evaluation, the board cited several areas where they were pleased with Weiss’ performance including “strong and consistent outreach with key stakeholder groups” and “responsiveness to to teacher and staff concerns.”
The board also cited Weiss’ leadership on the Tlingit Language Revitalization Task Force formed during the previous school year. Holst noted that Juneau was the first school district in Alaska to have a indigenous language revitalization project.
The board also identified five areas they want to Weiss to focus of the 2019-2020 school year. The full list can be found at the district’s website but among the areas of focus are increasing the number of students reading at grade level by third grade and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) integration throughout the district.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Weiss updated the board on several issues the district has been following since the last meeting in August.
One of those areas was school safety and security. The district made changes to locks and doors over the summer as a precaution against potential school shootings.
Two 13-year-old Floyd Dryden Middle School students were arrested in August for allegedly planning to commit a school shooting.
Additionally, the district purchased an online-monitoring system called BARK which alerts administrators to a range of activities on district accounts. BARK offers its service to schools for free.
The district manages several online accounts like email and other Google Suite (Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc) for students and staff. BARK sets up filters for those accounts which send notifications to district staff when it detects language around violence, self-harm, bullying and other topics designated by the district.
Alerts are sent at all hours directly to the superintendent and other staff. One area flagged by BARK is profanity, and Weiss told the board of seeing a conversation between two students where one student told the other, “Stop swearing. They can see us when we swear now.”
Weiss said that the filters only covered district accounts but that parents could purchase the service from the company.
Weiss also noted a change to state law which makes threatening or making false threats of harm a felony offense under certain conditions.
“We’re working to educate students that if they see something, say something,” Weiss told the board. She added that they were also working on making it clear to students that “words matter, potentially to felony status.”
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.