Today, our schools welcomed our staff back to officially begin the 2022-2023 school year. Convocation is one of my favorite events of the entire year. Seeing our staff ready to welcome back our students is very exciting. Fairbanks Local Schools has “Pride in our Past, Passion in the Present, and Preparing for the Future.” This is our mission. It runs through our work every day across the school community. Our areas of focus this year are tied to this mission:
- Portrait of a Panther
- High School Academic Framework
- Master Facility Planning
Portrait of Panther
Both the Portrait of a Panther and the new high school academic framework are part of the continued growth of our mission, vision, and strategic objectives. The portrait framework allows our schools to help provide a comparable experience for all students in Fairbanks Local Schools. Our community group developed the base framework below and our school staff will develop the grade level components during the 2022-2023 school year. This portrait brings together rigorous content, skills, and mindsets to create deeper learning for our students.
- Heart – Panthers embody self-awareness and caring for others with empathy and compassion.
- Mind – Panthers value growth and feedback as they develop confidence as learners.
- Muscles – Panthers respect hard work and solve problems in collaboration with others.
Every Panther will showcase their heart, mind, and muscles during their time in Fairbanks. We cannot wait to showcase this work over the coming years across our school district.
High School Academic Framework
Beginning this year, our high school will begin to shift to a new academic framework that is designed to meet the needs of all Fairbanks students. The flexibility provided within the framework allows for all students to be prepared for enrollment, employment, or enlistment upon graduation.
The 9th and 10th-grade years will be called the Fairbanks Foundation. Our students will focus on meeting required course content, structured skill-building, service learning in the community, and career exploration. In 10th grade, students will take a financial literacy class that will explore student success plans that shape their final two years in Fairbanks.
11th and 12th-grade students will then enter the Fairbanks Academy. The academy will provide more flexibility to meet the individual needs, goals, and interests of students as they prepare to graduate from Fairbanks. 11th and 12th-grade students will be able to have a menu of course options, career preparation, ACT and College Admission preparation course, Tolles Tech, and other advanced coursework. A new addition will be the Passion, Purpose & Service elective course. Students will work with course facilitators to design their own course around career exploration, internships, or service projects that prepare them for their life after high school graduation.
We are excited to grow our programming to meet the changing needs of our students as they graduate from Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Foundation and Academy provide a framework to meet the individual needs, interests, and goals of all Fairbanks students.
Master Facility Planning
The Fairbanks Board of Education and the school community will continue our master facility planning process this fall. This dialogue is addressing the long-term planning of facilities in Fairbanks focused on the 3 C’s of Facilities:
- Capacity – Enrollment, Classroom Availability, and District Growth
- Curriculum – Facilities and space that meet the needs of learners graduating to college, the workforce, or the military.
- Capital Improvements – HVAC, School Security and Safety, and other Physical Improvements
Since December of 2021, our school district has hosted four Facility Task Force meetings and three facility community meetings. Our Facility Task Force is composed of 54 community members. These individuals were nominated by various community groups including booster groups, PTO’s, local government partners, community partners, and residents. Using community meeting feedback and dialogue, the Task Force has been looking at conceptual options for facility planning. There was a community survey conducted in the spring that received 255 responses reviewing these starting concepts.
Based on the feedback, this fall our planning process will focus on two options. The first option is a full renovation of the middle and high school building with a 19,000-square-foot addition. It will also include a 5,000 – 10,000 square foot addition to the elementary school. The second option will be to build a new 9-12 high school while doing select renovations to the current middle and high school. To create additional capacity, 5th grade students will transition to the middle school building to create a 5th through 8th grade middle school. Both of these options provide solutions to the 3C’s listed above but approach them differently.
Part of the facility planning process is how to responsibly fund these projects over time. An initial step is to look at operating funds for our district. This November there will be a ballot issue on our substitute operating levy. This ballot issue will change this renewal to a continuing levy. It will not increase taxes for our residents. Fairbanks schools have not asked for additional operating dollars since 2007. Looking forward, we will plan with our community and Task Force a blended financial approach for facilities including current resources, income tax, and property tax.
As a school community, we need to fine-tune these ideas over the coming months and need your help to do so. We will have three community meetings prior to a final recommendation made to the Board of Education in December. Our three community meetings will be held in the elementary school cafeteria at 7:00 pm on September 27, October 25, and November 29.
Thank you for your continued support of our students, staff, and community. Our school community truly lives Pride, Passion, and Preparing every day. We are excited to continue to build our shared future together!!
Adham Schirg, Fairbanks Local Schools, Superintendent