The Kodiak Island Borough School District continues with its hiring contract approvals as the board of education approved two new contracts during a special meeting Wednesday.
The new hires include a districtwide new preschool teacher and a choir teacher for Kodiak middle and high schools.
Megan Morris, the preschool teacher, is a returning employee, according to Geoff Smith, KISBD’s assistant superintendent. Morris had worked as a preschool special education teacher at Peterson Elementary from 2011 to 2013 and will be returning as part of a military family transfer.
“We’re excited to welcome her back,” Smith said during a Wednesday special meeting.
According to Superintendent Larry LeDoux, Morris will be part of the early education program located at the district’s Central Office Building.
“We don’t have space at our other town schools,” LeDoux said. “When we hired this teacher, we didn’t have any place to put her.”
Space had to be created at the central office, including installing a wall to create two classrooms.
“This is a really happy occurrence because at the central office we are holding six sections of preschool,” LeDoux said. “That is just an incredible step forward and all the more important because of the stresses our preschool students experience by not being able to leave their homes or have access to their peers.”
LeDoux said Morris’s position is part of the CARES Act funding the school district has received.
The district has received $3.6 million through all three of the federal relief funding acts passed in 2020 and 2021 by both then-President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.
The choir teacher will help round out the music program for secondary school education. The board of education approved hiring Sarah Rendel, who taught middle and high school classes during the spring in Illinois.
According to the hiring memo, Rendel planned lessons and rehearsals, as well as conducted virtual performances. In addition, she has experience as a volunteer children’s choir director.
“We are very pleased to find a choir teacher,” LeDoux said. “Our fingers were crossed because they don’t grow on trees.”
However, the school district continues to search for other employees.
“We are still looking for a middle school health teacher, we are still looking for an alternative school teacher at the middle school for alternative programs and a nurse for North Star Elementary,” LeDoux said. The district is also looking for a physical education teacher at Peterson and facilities director.
LeDoux noted filling the nurse position may be difficult to fill.
“I heard from the hospital administration that they’re way below strength in their own nurses right now,” LeDoux said.
However, LeDoux said the district needs one thing above everything else: substitute teachers.
“We need them badly,” he said. “If you’ve never subbed before, we can train you, it is fun, you can pick what school you go to, you don’t have to do it every day and we will support you.”
He re-emphasized the fulfillment one gets from being a substitute teacher.
“It is one of the reasons I became a teacher,” LeDoux said. “You’ll understand why teachers teach if you become a sub.”
The district uses substitutes to meet short term staffing needs, such as if an instructor falls ill or has to take an emergency leave of absence. Unlike contracted teachers, substitutes don’t need teacher certification but must go through an application and approval process.
The district is also looking for substitutes or short-term help for day custodians, cooks/cook helpers and classroom aides. School nurses are also sought, but must be currently licensed as an Alaska registered nurse.
Applications are available online at www.kibsd.org. For questions, call the district office at 907-486-7550.