It’s been a long calendar year for the Kodiak Island Borough School District. From going remote last spring, to spending the summer months planning for the fall semester, to going back to classes in person and then finishing the semester online, it’s been a whirlwind. 

This year, hopefully, will be a little easier, and Superintendent Larry LeDoux said he and others at the district are looking to build on lessons that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught them. 

“I’m completely optimistic. We’re already, as a district, looking well beyond the COVID crisis,” he said last week.  

The district is still planning to return to classrooms in-person on Jan. 11, although in today’s world a lot could happen between now and then. Students have an extra week of winter break to hopefully tamp down on any infections that could have happened from traveling. 

“There’s a lot of time between now and Jan. 11. We’re looking at what’s going on and hoping for the best,” LeDoux said. 

Kids have been out of classrooms since Nov. 23 after multiple virus outbreaks at multiple schools. Everyone wants to be back in the classroom, but time will tell. 

“At this point, we’re just watching the contagion in our community, but it’s our hope to be open. We’re hoping the contagion will allow us to do that,” LeDoux said.  

The pandemic has forced the district to take huge steps forward in technology. Teachers, students and parents have had to learn to navigate online learning. LeDoux said this will pay off in the future as students will have technology at home that complements what they do in school, and they will feel comfortable using it.  

“We have a system now where every single teacher and student knows how to use technology in a way they never have before,” he said. 

“So that’s an incredible step forward. … Technology has always been limited by the ability of our parents and teachers to use it effectively. ” 

Parents are also much more likely to know what’s going on in their kids’ education since many have been working next to them for much of the year. 

Beyond the effects of the pandemic,the district is also developing a new math program. A task force that will work on developing the new program will start work this month. 

Budget talks with the borough are ongoing, and the district is still waiting to hear from the state about the exact funding it will get this year. LeDoux said the district hasn’t lost as many students as some of the bigger places, such as Anchorage or Mat-Su, which is good news for the district’s finances.  

“We didn’t lose much enrollment. We’re down maybe 1.5 students when you balance everything out,” he said. 

“We’re sort of lucky as a community that we held onto our kids.” 

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