Nome Public Schools has named John Berkeley interim principal at Nome-Beltz Jr/Sr High after Edwin “Chip” Sharpe resigned last month. Originally from Idaho, Sharpe was on the job for less than a year. And at a school board meeting last week, he explained why he has to leave.
“My wife has had several health issues this year, so we just decided it was a good time to be closer to home and to our kids,” said Sharpe. “I appreciate my time in Nome. I love the students here. You have a wonderful community, and I thank you.”
At the meeting, Superintendent Shawn Arnold announced that Berkeley will serve as principal for the rest of the school year while the district looks for a permanent replacement. Berkeley is currently the district’s director of federal programs.
“If you don’t know Mr. Berkeley, he’s been here in the community for 12 years — five as a teacher and then the last seven as an administrator,” said Arnold.
Arnold said the district is advertising internally and externally to find a new principal for Nome-Beltz. And even with a statewide shortage on administrators, he said he’d like to select someone by spring break — preferably someone who will stick around “for a long time.”
“We want to find somebody that’s experienced, preferably someone with knowledge of the region and from Alaska,” he said.
While Nome-Beltz waits for a new principal, the district has already welcomed another valuable addition —not to their staff, but to their budget, with $655,000 in extra revenue from the state.
The bonus comes from an unexpected bump in the number of Nome students, with the district enrolling 26 more than expected this school year.
The board does not have to decide what to do with the extra money until June, but Arnold said they cannot carry it over into next year’s normal budget. For now, the board is planning to hold on to the additional funds, possibly for capital projects — like the Nome-Beltz roof renovation — or in case of emergencies.
And in other good financial news, Arnold told the board that Nome Public Schools has received a grant for better broadband internet. Worth about $3 million, the assistance grant will increase the district’s bandwidth from 11 megabytes per second to 40.
“This is probably one of the fastest internets here in rural Alaska now,” said Arnold.
The school board will meet next for a work session on Jan. 26.