Dillingham school board makes tough budget decisions

Apr 26, 2017

The school board for the Dillingham City School District addressed issues of added administrative positions and the future of the art program at their Monday meeting.

Credit KDLG

At their meeting Monday night, the school board for the Dillingham City School District tackled budget issues that have been ruffling feathers in the community this spring. Chief among them are added administrative positions.

The board passed a budget last week that added an assistant superintendent position. On Monday the board amended the budget so that the position would not be added. Board president Chris Napoli explains that they made the change to reflect the current economic climate.

“I believe that there’s a good time for a superintendent position,” says Napoli. “I think in growth we need to get there. With what we’re faced with financially. I don’t know if this is the year for that growth… I think this is just kind of the year we need to tighten our belt.”

The budget passed last week also included a title change for an elementary school teacher. Nick Tweet is currently the elementary school social skills teacher and RTI coordinator. Under the budget, next year he would become an assistant principal, but his pay would remain the same.

At last week’s meeting, a number of teachers and community members testified to ask that the school board not make Tweet an assistant principal. Instead, they suggested he be made a teacher on special assignment to recognize the added duties he has already shouldered. This week parents and school administrators defended the superintendent’s choice to change Tweet’s title.

Nick Schollmeier, the elementary school principal, stressed that Tweet has received his master’s in education and his Type B Certification.

“Making him a teacher on special assignment, I believe, is a slap in his face,” says Schollmeier. I fear not only is it a slap in his face, but this could also result in him and his wife and their family moving out of Dillingham.”

The school board affirmed the superintendent’s choice and to make Tweet an assistant principal. 

Another topic of concern at the meeting was the future of the art program. The art teacher’s position has been cut. But the board assured the public that the program itself will not disappear. Napoli explained after the meeting that the school hopes to incorporate art by partnering with area artists for intensive weeks of art instruction throughout the year.

“We’re looking at how we can do art…where we would be working with partners in the community, gifted carvers, gifted fur sewers, different forms of art. We have gifted artists that are painters, and we have gifted artists that do pottery and stained glass,” says Napoli.

The music teacher recently resigned, so the school will also be looking for ways to maintain a form of that program next year as well.

The budget is scheduled for a workshop with the city on May 4. 

Contact the author at avery@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.