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State Grant Could Fund Nome Preschool For Three Years — If District Finds Long-Term Solution

The school board discusses the three-year grant worth $6 million. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

NOME, Alaska — Nome Public Schools has a new option for saving the local preschool without having to tap into city coffers. At a school board meeting Monday night, Superintendent Shawn Arnold announced that despite budget cuts, the state will fund early childhood education for a select group of Alaska school districts.

Arnold said Nome Public Schools is eligible for the three-year grant worth $6 million. But the funding would also require the district to find a long-term solution — one that doesn’t rely on Pre-K money from the Alaska Department of Education.

“We’ll get it, but we also have to have plans with the state,” said Arnold. “Detailed plans answering: ‘How are we going to sustain it?’”

While the district works on its grant application, due July 1st, Arnold said he’ll explore possibilities for more permanent funding. That might include developing a trust, seeking donations from corporations, or building partnerships with community organizations like Kawerak. If Nome does win the grant, the state will notify the district by mid-July.

Meanwhile, the school board has approved the purchase of a new vehicle for the Nome Elementary School and a technology upgrade for the entire district.

The elementary school is authorized to spend up to $60,000 on a new SUV for home visits and field trips, while the technology upgrade will replace more than 100 computers and iPads at the cost of $170,000.

Arnold said the new technology will allow teachers to offer a wider variety of classes, scaffold their lessons for students learning at different levels, and use online education programs.

“Students can sit there and read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech,” he said. “But with iPads, they can hear it and they can see it.”

The new vehicle, computers, and iPads should be available next school year. The school board will hold its next meeting on Aug. 9.