FAIRBANKS — Chris Benshoof, a Lathrop High School teacher, was named the BP Teacher of the Year in Fairbanks at the 17th annual BP Teachers of Excellence awards. Benshoof teaches high school students math and is the school’s Academic Decathlon coach.
Benshoof was among 30 other BP Teachers of Excellence in Alaska, six of which were from Fairbanks. Other Fairbanks teachers of excellence included Karen Dullen, from Woodriver Elementary School, Donna Fitzpatrick from Ladd Elementary School, Gregory Kahoe from West Valley High School, Larry Mitchell from Badger Road Elementary School and Barbara Smith from Chinook Montessori Charter School.
For his award, Benshoof received a $1,500 scholarship for continuing education. He was one of more than 1,400 teachers nominated for recognition.Read full article
FAIRBANKS — A Seattle-based arbitrator has decided in favor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s proposed salary increase for teachers, who have been locked in contentious contract negotiations with the district.
The district has proposed a 1.25 percent increase and a $1,500 stipend for teachers who aren’t eligible for step movement on the salary schedule.
Arbitrator Richard Humphreys came to Fairbanks to help the Fairbanks Education Association and the school district come closer to resolving the contract after the two negotiating teams reached an impasse. The teams presented him with five issues: salary, personal leave, grade determination, just cause, and special education meetings.
Humphreys met with the teams for more than 12 hours Monday, listening to their presentations, questioning and verifying issues, and came up with his non-binding decision Tuesday afternoon.Read full article
FAIRBANKS - Who says high school students drag their feet in the morning?
Hundreds of Lathrop High School students gathered outside the school Tuesday morning before school started to support settling teacher contracts. Perhaps it was the sugar rushes from ample amounts of free candy and cookies or the brisk 7:30 a.m. temperatures, but there was no hint of sluggishness.
“2.5! 2.5!” students chanted from the north side of the building toward Airport Way traffic.
The students were calling for a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase to their teachers’ salaries. That’s what the teachers are seeking in a new contract; the previous contract expired in June.Read full article
FAIRBANKS — Denali Elementary School’s principal was quite a bit shorter than usual Monday
Principal Tim Doran came in the form of a sixth-grade, long brown-haired, freckled girl. Myranda Schiff, 12, was principal for a day at Denali, which is a rare opportunity for sixth-grade students at the school.
Schiff’s day was out of her norm. She hung out in the office with the secretaries instead of in her classroom. She passed her classmates in the hall and they addressed her as “principal” instead of her first name. She wore her mom’s dress and black blazer instead of a T-shirt, like other students.
Throughout the day, Schiff helped Doran hand out “Proud Paper Panthers” to classes who behaved and worked well in the last week. Each time a class earns a paper, they also learn the word of the week, which was “phenomenal.”Read full article
FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District should receive more state revenue for the coming school year than it predicted, now that the Legislature has finalized its education spending.
To cover its recommended $222 million budget for the coming year, the school board requested an additional $1 million from the borough and counted on an extra $3.5 million from the state, compared to the current fiscal year’s funding from those sources.
The Legislature, which adjourned its regular session April 15, exceeded the school board’s expectations with a total of about $8.3 million more than this year’s state funding for local schools. The borough’s budget is not yet complete.
The district’s chief financial officer, Mike Fisher, said the school board is still addressing what the extra money will mean for next year’s budget.Read full article
FAIRBANKS — It was not April Fool’s Day or anybody’s birthday, but the same kind of energy went into engineering a surprise Thursday afternoon at Lathrop High School.
The occasion was the return of Spc. Holly Eckert, the mother of Lathrop freshman Leia Castillo. While serving as a chemical specialist with the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division in Kandahar Airfield, Eckert emailed Lathrop to ask about making an unannounced visit to her daughter’s class when she returned.
The school administration thought it was a good idea and got into the spirit of the surprise. Castillo, who did not know what day her mom was coming back, was taken to the school’s suspension office Thursday afternoon as if she was in trouble. In the meantime, Eckert came to her daughter’s afternoon geometry class still wearing her uniform. She arrived at Fort Wainwright with about 200 other soldiers from the Stryker brigade Thursday morning, one of a steady string of flights bringing the brigade’s 4,000 soldiers home from a year’s deployment in Afghanistan.
After asking another student where her daughter usually sits, Eckert took her seat at a front-row desk. Her husband, Castillo’s stepfather, took a seat a few rows back. Castillo actually had both of her biological parents deployed at the same time this year. Her father, who lives in Iowa, was also deployed to Afghanistan.Read full article
FAIRBANKS - The skies are blue, the sun is shining and the buzz around town isn’t coming from the mosquitoes (yet.) It’s coming from residents trading gardening plans and tips.
Gardeners can find plenty of advice Saturday at Randy Smith Middle School.
The school’s garden committee is hosting its third annual Spring Garden Bazaar and Earth Day Fair to raise money for its school garden. School nurse Lois Henderson is organizing the bazaar, which will include local vendors, free workshops, a student art show, plant sale, a silent auction and more.
The theme is gardening and earth-friendly practices, Henderson said.Read full article
FAIRBANKS — Teacher contract talks are headed for arbitration next week.
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and the Fairbanks Education Association bargaining teams butted heads on one of the last proposals for the 2011-2012 school year contract after a two-day meeting Friday and Monday with mediator Brian Jarrett.
The impasse nullifies all of the successfully negotiated proposals as it goes before Seattle arbitrator Richard Humphries at a hearing next week in Fairbanks.
Both the FEA and school board teams will present their final proposals again on Monday, and Humphries will render his opinion on Tuesday.Read full article
FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Legislature ended its session with increases to education funding across the state, but the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is still calculating how much money it will receive for its upcoming school year.
Mike Fisher, the district’s financial chief, plans to present some funding numbers at tonight’s school board meeting.
Fisher said that the Legislature approved increased transportation funding, meaning the district will not have to supplement its busing budget with money intended for use in classrooms. He also said the district expects to see increased vocational-technical money and onetime funding from the Legislature’s capital budget.
“We’re still assessing what’s coming to the district,” Fisher said.Read full article
Lynette Thompson, 18, is a senior at Hutchison High School and has had a busy year creating her senior project.
Teacher Ben Johnson has been impressed with Lynette’s work on her encompassing senior project.
She had to plan, develop and organize Hutchison’s 2012 recruitment, which included a DVD, posters and fliers and a power point presentation.
“She organized student recruiters, followed the timeline, met deadlines, applied critical thinking skills to real life projects using career orientated applications,” Johnson listed.Read full article