Back to school in Bristol Bay

Aug 26, 2016

From Port Alsworth to Perryville and from Koliganek to Togiak, 1474 students in public schools around Bristol Bay are back in classrooms. No schools closed this year, and for some, enrollment is up a bit.

Credit KDLG

KDLG:  Lake and Peninsula district students headed back to school last week, and this week, students in the Bristol Bay, Dillingham, and Southwest Region districts have been filing back into classrooms.

In the four districts, the total number of students enrolled stood at approximately 1474 as the first tardy bells rang. Districts say enrollment figures always change in the first few weeks of the school year.

Enrollment is up a little more than expected at DCSD. Elementary school principal Nick Schollmeier offered the good news to the school board Monday night.

“Our enrollment’s up a lot at Elementary School,” he said, running down the numbers by grade level. “I think we’re up 14 kids right now from last year. With all the budget stuff, it’s a nice way to start the year.”

If the higher than budgeted for enrollment lasts until the state pays out the base student allocation, it could mean an extra $140,000-plus in funding for the district.

Monte Thacker is the new principal for Dillingham Middle and High School.
Credit Anchorage School District

Dillingham Middle and High School started Wednesday with four more students than anticipated. It also started with a new principal.

“My name is Monte Thacker, and I was at Anchorage last year at a school called P.A.I.D.E.I.A.,” Thacker said in an interview after day one’s final bell rang. “It was a correspondence school, a brand new school, but state budget cuts forced a few things that we couldn’t continue the way we wanted to. So I chose to look for other employment and I was thrilled when Dillingham came open.”

Thacker was also a principal in Texas for a number of years, a career he pursued after spending time in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Wednesday was a smooth start for students and teachers alike, the new principal said. There are still a few classrooms waiting on teachers who have been hired but haven’t arrived yet. Thacker, who’s been spotted with his wife angling for silvers on the Wood River aboard his Hewescraft, is happy to be on the team. 

“Dillingham is by far the best school that I’ve been at,” he said. “The community is wonderful, the people are nice, and my wife and I are both really pleased to be here.”

Dillingham City Schools had approximately 451 students enrolled on day one, split nearly equally between the two schools.

Lake and Pen teachers and staff at an inservice early this month.
Credit LPSD

Bristol Bay Borough schools started Tuesday with 118, which is down from 180 10 years ago (and down from 250 in 2000), but is about the same as last year and about the same as had been projected.

The 12 Lake and Peninsula schools have been getting back into session for a little over a week now. Roughly 309 students are enrolled in the district, which is spread from Perryville to Port Alsworth.

The seven schools in the Southwest Region, from Togiak to Koliganek have 596 students enrolled, according to the district.

Both the Southwest and Lake and Pen districts have small schools threatened by the state’s 10 person threshold for funding, but the districts says all schools are above that minimum.

The state measures this year’s enrollment on October 1.

Reach the author at or 907.842.5281

Just before that first bell rang Wednesday morning in Dillingham.
Credit KDLG