The Kodiak Island Borough School District had a strategic education planning meeting on Thursday night to discuss what parents and the community would like to see as goals.

“What is the community vision so we can serve it?” superintendent Stewart McDonald asked of the crowd.  

High school teacher Bonnie Dillard was one of a handful of participants who spoke up. On behalf of herself and other parents who have come to her, she spoke on the importance of concentrating on bringing visual arts to the forefront of education.

“A lot of parents talk about this at the kitchen table,” Dillard said. “Their children are tested and tested and tested and their creative side is neglected. In this county, as we move forward, we are going to have more and more need for young people who have a sense of design. Everything is visual.

“I teach elementary kids with my art class because there isn’t any other art,” she continued. “As far as planning ahead, we need to educate our children as whole human beings, not just as these creatures that can spit out the right answers.”

Another topic of concern brought up was preparing students for jobs in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work.

“There’s a lot of occupations as far as the trades that are dying … there’s people you need to help keep infrastructure going,” Rich Walker said. “I have problems finding people to work to maintain the base. There’s 110 jobs lying out there right now and 90 percent of these people are going to retire within five years. Who’s going to replace them?”

The district is already at work with a vocational program that looks to prepare students for these types of careers.

Other ideas expressed included more homework at school so there is less of it to interrupt parents’ evening time with children, and a more robust peer program to help children with tutoring.

McDonald said the more voices the district hears, the better it can own the direction and vision of the education.

Follow-up meetings are planned for Oct. 26 and 28. Additional comments can be posted on the school district’s website, www.kodiakschools.org.

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