Congress is gearing up to pass the first major education reform bill since the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act — a move that would grant Alaska considerably greater control over the state’s schools, from testing to curriculum.
It takes a tough and resilient person to be the business manager of a school district. The one who dares to accept the responsibility of chief finical officer has to be one that can take constructive and more often than not, misinformed criticism from within, from without, and even from friends. It isn’t for the faint of heart. In rural Alaska, it is even more challenging.
Loreen Kramer has filled this role in the Copper River School District for over 28 years. There have been years when the choices were easier. Lately, the decisions have been hard and no one in the CRSD has spent more time fearing the funding what-ifs than Loreen. As Business Manager, she is the first to communicate the hard realities and the last to receive credit when the bills get paid on time.
In spite of the challenges, the CRSD has had years of clean audits and financial solvency. Loreen has kept the CRSD financial house in order so that schools could keep the classrooms in order. In gratitude for her years of service to CRSD students, this week’s Snippets honors Loreen.
Name: Loreen Kramer
Birthday: October 27th
Role in the CRSD: Business Manager
Primary Campus: District-wide
Where else have you worked in Alaska? Bering Straight School District
Where are you originally from? Minnesota
Favorite Book/Author/TV Show: Clive Cussler (Author) The Notebook, Hope Floats (Movies)
Favorite Music Genre: Folk
Favorite Place in Alaska: My home. I love to travel the state but my favorite place is home with my family.
Favorite Place Outside of Alaska: Crooked Island, Bahamas or some other tropical island in the Caribbean.
Hobbies: Sewing, cooking, camping, rafting, hanging out with our children and their families.
Favorite Aspect of Your Job: I love my job and always have. I love the interaction I have with my co-workers and managing the district finances.
One Interesting Thing About You That Might Be Surprising: I have climbed the Chilkoot Trail.
Favorite Beverage: Coffee
Favorite Snack: Chips
In One Sentence, What Advice Do You Have for Students? Hard work and respect of others will get you far in life.
Loreen started working in the Copper River School District in 1987. Send Loreen an email, buy her a cup of coffee or take her a bag of chips to let her know how much we appreciate her serving students and families in the CRSD.
James Fields, CRSD Board Member and President AK State Board of Education
Thank you Loreen, for your high level of care for ensuring that Copper River School District is above reproach in all of it’s business dealings. You maintained a high level of character and it is much appreciated.
Mindy Lobaugh, AK Department of Education & Early Development
Loreen has always been sharp with numbers and fun to work with. I have always looked forward to our phone calls because as soon as business was out of the way we could catch up on life. She is such a blessing to Education and I will miss her humor, integrity, and fun that she brings to a business that can come with so many rollercoaster rides.
Linda Marchini, Past-President CRSD Board of Education
I want to applaud Loreen for her years of service to our district and thank her for all the students that have benefitted from her skills and professionalism. I wish her many happy and full years in retirement.
Lanette Phillips, Former Upstream Learning Administrative Assistant
It was a great pleasure to work with Loreen for 18 years. To see the inner workings of running a school district budget and more has been eye opening and incredible. Most do not know the intense work she performed throughout her time with the District and her care for all students. Our hats are off to you, Loreen!
Kathy Gearhart, Incoming CRSD Business Manager
Loreen Kramer has been a mentor, friend and inspiration over the years as I’ve worked alongside her at the CRSD. Loreen’s knowledge of school finance and the operations of the district have helped to ensure the success of students and staff. During good and uncertain times, Copper River School District has been fortunate to have such a devoted, caring and trustworthy Business Manager to help lead the way. I will miss you Loreen, but find comfort in knowing you will be available for help along the way.
Sandy McMahan, Glennallen Elementary School Teacher
Wow-has it really been 30 years?! Thanks Loreen; I’ll miss not seeing you at the D.O. Happy travels!
Fred Williams, Loreen’s Neighbor
Loreen is a very good neighbor of mine and good neighbors are good people. Fortunately, she has given me some of her fine homemade bread. Unfortunately, I eat it faster than she can make it!
Rick Oatman, Kenny Lake School Custodian/Maintenance Mechanic Extraordinaire
Loreen, along with her husband Pete and children Ben and Samantha made a positive impact on C.R.S.D., Glennallen Campus and the Copper Basin. Working with this professional for the past 30 years has been a joy for me. Working hard for our school district through the good times and the tough times. Kenny Lake School and I will miss this caring, honest and compassionate friend. Thanks for always being there for us and helping in so many ways!
Sandy Friendshuh, CRSD Accountant
Thank you for your many years of dedicated service to the kids and employees of the Copper River School District. You’ve established an atmosphere of high financial accountability and accuracy so annual audits go smoothly, even to the point where CRSD has become the training ground for new auditors because our audits are so clean. Thanks for being patient as I was learning my job and thanks especially for allowing me to work from Kenny Lake. You have a huge heart and I’m going to miss you, but I know we’ll be in good hands with Kathy at the helm! I truly hope you enjoy retirement and I can’t wait to see all of your new sewing projects and hear of your travel adventures. Stop by and visit often!
James W. Elliott, Former CRSD Superintendent
Having started my career in Alaska public education in 1964 and completed it just last June 30, 2015, I have known many of Alaska’s very best school district business managers, including Marcie White (Copper River), Dick Swarner (Kenai), Melody Douglas (Kenai), Kerry Jarrell (Bering Strait), John Tongen (Valdez), Dennis Niedermeyer (Lake and Peninsula), Tom Freeman (Anchorage), Guy Bellville (Anchorage), and, of course, Loreen Kramer (Copper River). Fortunately, I had the privilege and honor of working directly with Loreen for seven years during my tenure as Superintendent of Copper River School District (2002-2009). As the result of her extraordinary competence, careful attention to detail, diligence, and exceptional professionalism, Loreen, in my judgment, ranks among the very top 1% of school district business managers in Alaska whom I have known.
Rene’ Spracklen, Former CRSD Accountant
It was a pleasure working with you and I hope you enjoy your retirement. It is well deserved.
Loreen, Ramona Henspeter and Cheryl Sparks will be recognized at a reception on December 1st at 4:30PM before the CRSD Board of Education’s monthly meeting.
If Alaska implemented a standardized salary schedule for its teachers, most rural school districts would have to pay their educators a lot more. For teachers in Southeast Alaska’s Pelican City School District, it would mean a 105 percent raise.
This week’s Snippets is a “General Update” edition. Please visit www.crsd.us, attend a local Advisory School Board or CRSD Board of Education meeting for more news and information. Also, please visit our Facebook page for student activities related pictures and news.
Thanks to the hard work of CRSD’s Tech Coordinator Chris Van Wyhe and a few volunteers, CRSD athletic events are now streamed via www.crsd.us/stream.html. Events hosted in the CRSD are streamed live. Activities hosted outside the CRSD will either be streamed live or recorded and uploaded later, depending on the venue’s internet access. When you visit www.crsd.us/stream.html, you can view any live-streamed event or recorded events. If you would like to volunteer to operate the camera for a student activity, please contact the school’s athletic director (Kenny Lake-Rick Oatman, Glennallen-Ben Dolgner).
COPPER VALLEY SHELTERS
CRSD staff have been working to have each of our facilities designated as an official American Red Cross Shelter. This designation not only provides enhanced services during a disaster or accident, but may provide an opportunity to receive grant funds for generators and other contingency equipment. Kathi Hindman, a local expert in emergency response, is coordinating our paperwork and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a fun way to involve students in local conversations regarding Alaska’s unique energy challenges and opportunities. There will be an AK EnergySmart training workshop on Thursday, November 12th at 3:15PM – 4:15PM in the Glennallen High School video-conferencing room. The training will broadcast via video-conference to Kenny Lake and Slana Schools. Teachers, home educators, and community members are invited to this active workshop to learn about the energy landscape of Alaska, how to integrate energy education into what students are learning, and how the FREE AK EnergySmart curriculum can work for you! This Alaska specific, standards based K–12 curriculum boosts students’ energy literacy. Students investigate what energy is, how we use energy, and how energy can be conserved. You can learn more at www.akenergysmart.org or by emailing Katie Croft at email@example.com.
The new Copper River School District high school schedule continues to develop with Trek #2 this week. Students will extend the learning they began in Trek #1 during the next two weeks of intensive classes. We continue to solicit feedback from students, teachers, and parents as we create a schedule with as many vocational, outdoor and local-interest courses as possible. Many thanks go to our staff, students and community for their willingness to try something new and demonstrate that we can have a high-quality education program in the Copper Valley that is uniquely Alaskan while preparing students for college and/or career.
As reported in previous Snippets, reports from last Spring’s Alaska Measures of Progress assessments have been delayed. Last week, the Department of Education and Early Development informed superintendents that statewide data from the tests will be released on November 9th. Districts will receive electronic access to data prior to the public release. Printed versions of individual student reports will be sent to districts later in November and then mailed to parents. If you have questions regarding AMP reports, please call or email your child’s teacher or Principal.
BOARD OF EDUCATION NEWS
On Oct. 23rd the Alaska Division of Elections certified the REAA #17 School Board Elections. James Fields and Mark Somerville were both re-elected to three year terms. Jaime Matthews was newly elected for a three year term. She has served on the Glennallen School PTO and ASB for several years and is an active hockey Mom. The next time you see Jaime, please congratulate her and express your appreciation for the time and energy she will invest for CRSD students.
The recent election also concludes Cheryl Sparks’ 21 years of dedicated service to the Board of Education. That’s over 250 monthly Board meetings, not including committee meetings, interviews, and special meetings. Cheryl has been a steady and reliable supporter of CRSD students and staff. Please stop by the store or send Cheryl a note of gratitude. Mrs. Sparks plans to remain involved in the CRSD by volunteering at Glennallen School.
THREE WELL-EARNED THANK YOU’s
Unusual for this time of year, we have colleagues who will be retiring mid-year. Ramona Henspeter is retiring from Upstream Learning. She has been with the program since 2009, building it into the family-centered program it is today. See last week’s “Meet the CRSD” for more about Ramona. Loreen Kramer will also be retiring this December. Loreen has been with the CRSD since 1987 starting as a secretary for the Assistant Superintendent. Loreen has kept the district fiscally sound through challenging financial times, dropping enrollment and the exponential expansion of restrictive regulations. Both Ramona and Loreen will be here through the first week of December, so please stop by their offices and wish them well. Earlier this month, Kathi Hindman retired after 21 years of dedicated service to the students of the CRSD. In addition to helping students learn to read, Kathi led our efforts to establish emergency response plans, taught CPR to staff members, and represented the district on the local Emergency Response Planning Committee. While transitioning to a full-time emergency responder, Kathi is helping to establish each of our school sites as an official Red Cross shelter.
DATES TO REMEMBER
November 11th – Veteran’s Day (find a veteran and say “thank you”)
November 13th – Early Release
November 16th – Teacher Inservice
November 18th – Picture Retakes
November 21st – Copper Valley Trade Fair
November 26th-27th – Thanksgiving Holidays
December 1st – CRSD Board of Education Work-session and Regular Meeting
Thank you for reading the Snippets. Together, the Copper River Valley is providing a quality education in our wonderfully rural and unique environment.
This week’s Snippets is a guest post from Dr. Kathy Everett, Director of Programs and Interventions and Principal of Slana School. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help! My Child is Failing in School
At some point in your child’s educational career, they may struggle academically. Too often parents and/or well-meaning teachers suggest having the child evaluated for special education. But that is not the only course of action nor should it be the first path to take in helping your child. Copper River School District, as with other districts across the country, has embraced the Response to Intervention (RTI) Tier Program to support students in being academically successful. All students are in Tier I and administered universal screenings such as the MAPS assessment. Some in our school community may not be familiar with the RTI process and the differences between RTI and special education. This article will help to explain both.
When your child is having a hard time with school work, they can become extremely stressed and withdrawn. Some can get angry while others start to feel like they are stupid or not as smart as their friends. Parents will sometimes wonder “What did I do wrong?” Michael Thompson, PhD contends most parents “haven’t necessarily done anything wrong” but that does not mean they can’t help work through the problem.
RTI provides a framework to support all students using a tri-tiered triangle model that addresses both academic instruction and behavioral support (often referred to as Positive Behavioral Intervention Support, or PBIS or PBS). The tiers of the triangle represent universal instruction for all students and increasing levels of interventions for those students who need them, including those for special education students. A problem solving approach is used to analyze the data and make decisions about appropriate instruction and interventions. So how is this different than special education you might ask?
Special education on the other hand requires a student to meet specific eligibility criteria outlined by the US government through comprehensive evaluations. Special education means providing specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. Supports (such as modified learning outcomes, extended time, or modified assignments) are intended to level the playing field due to the disability of a child, not to make things easier for them. Special education is designed for those students who are mentally, physically, socially and/or emotionally delayed. Evaluating and placing a child in special education requires an eligibility to address the student’s needs that cannot be met within the traditional classroom environment.
So what does this mean for you as the parent of a student is struggling? You can ask your child’s teacher to place them in the RTI process. The teacher will then have to apply various strategies to see what may help your child be more successful in school. The teacher and the parent will coordinate to see how the various strategies are helping or not. Each student in Tier II or III will be progressed monitored, which means the teacher will evaluate either weekly or monthly how successful the strategies are in improving the student’s performance or behavior.
In addition to working with parents, the teacher will work within their school RTI program to address and solicit help from other teachers. If the various supports do not seem to be making a difference in improving your child’s performance or behavior in school, then a referral to special education will be made. Special education will require comprehensive testing to evaluate if there may be a disability. The process is designed to not over identify students but to be able to provide supports as needed. Should you have any questions about the process, feel free to contact the Programs and Interventions Office at the Copper River School District for more assistance.
While the largest school districts did record somewhat higher scores than the statewide averages on the new state tests, some readers may get the the mistaken idea that the numbers tell a story of stellar performance.
Source: tests | Alaska Dispatch News
OPINION: Closing any Alaska village school with less than 25 students would do far more damage than good to the state.