"It's an investment in our children, and making sure that our schools stay open," said board chair Kay Andrews when the school board voted to establish high school programs at all sites.
The villages of Aleknagik, Ekwok and Twin Hills are slated to get high school programs next year.
The Southwest Region School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to establish K-through-12 programs at all the district’s sites, including the three that are currently K-through-8.
Speaking to the school board Thursday, chair Kay Andrews indicated this plan is the district’s response to state budget cuts and other threats to the existence of small school sites in recent years.
"It’s not an expenditure, it’s an investment in our children, and making sure that our schools stay open," said Andrews. "And the families that want to have their children stay home, and go to school at home, have an opportunity to do so, just like Anchorage and others around the state."
Until now, high school-age students in Aleknagik, Ekwok, and Twin Hills have had to choose between options of homeschooling, attending Mt. Edgecumbe, enrolling in a correspondence school, or boarding with a family in another community.
According to district administration, the details are still being ironed out, but the new K-12 programs will rely partially on distance delivery technologies and online courses.
"The district is working on calendar synchronization, in addition to bell schedule synchronization, to ensure that distance-delivered courses can be handled between sites as needed," said Superintendent Piazza in an email Tuesday.
Piazza says Aleknagik and Twin Hills will each get one more staff member; enrollment numbers at Ekwok don't necessitate any additional staff.
The high school programs are expected to begin in the fall.