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Nome School Board Requests Extra COVID Funding, Reviews Pool Maintenance

The Nome School Board anticipates it will spend hundreds of thousands of extra dollars as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board also addressed the possibility of establishing a gun safety course, as well as the delayed reopening of Nome-Beltz swimming pool in their regular meeting on September 8th.

In her report last week, Nome Public Schools (NPS) Superintendent Jamie Burgess discussed the district’s decision to request an additional $90,000 from the City of Nome. The request, presented at this Monday’s Nome City Council meeting [Sept. 14th], was approved for more than the amount NPS initially asked for.

“The motion by Councilmember Brown seconded by Councilmember Martinson to amend the resolution, changing the contribution from $90,000 to $165,000.”

– Interim Mayor John Handeland

According to Burgess, an increase in enrollment for Nome’s virtual school will come with some additional costs this year. However, a decrease in overall enrollment within the district could negatively affect the amount of funding NPS receives from the state.

Burgess then gave an overview of the amount NPS anticipates it will spend this year.

“So we’re looking at overall, probably the total additional expenses to the district dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, is over $300,000.”

-NPS Superintendent Jamie Burgess

Superintendent Burgess also read a letter addressed to the Nome School Board, the Bering Strait School District School Board, and Kawerak’s Board of Directors and CEO, regarding the recent death of a 12-year-old student in Shishmaref.

The letter requests a few regional entities, including the Nome School Board, reconsider sponsoring a gun safety course. But Superintendent Burgess contends that the district would not be able to independently implement this course.

“There’s some significant liability issues that would make that very challenging for us to do as a school district. However, we are very open to working with some of the other organizations who are better equipped for this.”

– NPS Superintendent Jamie Burgess

Burgess gave some examples of organizations that could potentially sponsor a gun safety course, including a local shooting club in Nome, as well as the Northwestern Alaska Career and Technical Center (NACTEC).

Also during last week’s meeting, the School Board gave an update on the repairs for the Nome-Beltz swimming pool, stating that the maintenance crew is scheduled to begin working in early to mid-October. As a result, Superintendent Burgess believes the pool won’t be available for use until shortly after.

“Chances are pretty good that we’re probably going to see the pool come back online possibly for the public and for our swim team late October.”

– NPS Superintendent Jamie Burgess

In terms of holding swim practice during the ongoing COVID-19, Superintendent Burgess says, “swimming is listed as one of the lower risk activities under the ASAA guidelines,” so practices should resume as soon as the pool repairs have been completed. However, the City of Nome will be responsible for making any decisions about reopening the pool to the public.

The next Nome School Board work session is scheduled for next Tuesday [September 22nd], and the next regular meeting is scheduled for October 13th.

Image at top: Superintendent Jamie Burgess alongside the Nome School Board during a meeting in November of 2019. (Board member Darlene Trigg not pictured) Photo from KNOM file.

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