School enrollment higher than projected

Haines school enrollment is more than projected, which will result in an increase in the school’s budget.

Last November, school administrators had projected this school year’s enrollment at 233, which would have resulted in a $154,000 loss in revenue for this fiscal year. Enrollment is now projected at 246, school superintendent Roy Getchell told the board at Tuesday’s meeting. Budgetary adjustments won’t occur until the spring, Getchell said, and the projections are still not official.

Two new school board members, Lindsay Dixon and Michelle Sloper, attended their first meeting after the board unanimously appointed each member Nov. 1. They will serve one-year terms until next year’s municipal election.

Dixon and Sloper were among four candidates who applied for two open seats. Carl Lehman and Dorothea Owens also applied. The board interviewed the applicants on Nov. 1.

During Tuesday’s meeting, board member Lisa Schwartz suggested the board look into how much screen time students get while at school. Board president Anne Marie Palmieri suggested they find the average daily screen time to see if adjustments should be made. The suggestions came a week after Frederick Lane, an international speaker and author on the topic of digital citizenship and cyber traps, spoke to school staff and parents last week.

Assembly chambers design advances

The Haines Borough Assembly held the first of two public hearings on whether or not they should spend $30,000 on a design that would add assembly chambers to the library as part of the library’s expansion project.

The assembly advanced the authorization of MRV Architects’ designs on Oct. 24 after a 3-3 split that Mayor Jan Hill tipped. The second public hearing will be held on Dec. 4, when the assembly will vote on moving forward to what would eventually be a $430,000 project.

At the assembly meeting on Tuesday, the only public opinion came from library staff and board members, who expressed their support for the project.

Haines Borough Public Library director Carolyn Goolsby said that adding the assembly chambers onto the library is a matter of having a place to go when the public safety building fails, as its projected to.

She added that it’s “kind of a bargain,” to spent around half a million dollars, as opposed to building chambers separately.

The borough assembly voted to separate the library fund rest of the budget amendments to be voted on at the next meeting. Assembly member Tom Morphet, who proposed the motion, said he wants the assembly to consider them separately.

Assembly to have Thursday meetings

The Haines Borough Assembly will hold their bi-weekly meetings on Thursdays, instead of the codified Tuesdays, for the summer months.

The assembly voted 4-2 in an effort to accommodate their newest member, Will Prisciandaro, whose commercial fishing schedule would make it difficult for him to attend meetings on Tuesdays.

“I fish,” Prisciandaro said. “I know there are 57 gillnet permits in town and I’ve heard complaints from a lot of them that we can’t make meetings on Tuesdays. We seem to be a largely excluded body from meetings.”

Assembly members Heather Lende, Tom Morphet, and Stephanie Scott voted in favor of Thursday meetings. Morphet said that Prisciandaro was voted in by a wide margin, and that his voice deserves to be heard.

“I don’t really care that Will’s a fisherman or not. He won by a huge majority and they want his voice here, so let’s figure out a way to get his voice here,” Morphet said.

Assembly members Sean Maidy and Brenda Josephson voted against changing the meeting schedule, stating that every assembly member has to make sacrifices in their schedule, and that borough code should be respected.

Scott said that she agrees the code should be respected, but earlier in the meeting they just adopted a police practice that’s not in code.

Maidy asked Prisciandaro if it is possible to call into the meeting instead of changing the schedule.

“I have no problem calling in; I just have no ability to do that,” Prisciandaro said. He said he fishes outside of cell range, and it takes as long as five hours to drive his boat back to Haines.

Borough Manager Debra Schnabel said meeting on Thursdays would make the staff’s job more difficult to get the packet to the assembly by Monday. Changing assembly meetings to Thursdays will also mean changing Planning Commission meetings for those 13 weeks, Schnabel said.

From June 25 through Sept. 24, assembly meetings will be held on Thursdays in the assembly chambers.