Wednesday, October 20, 2021

New science academy could keep Port Alexander school doors open

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Seventh Leveler Colton Collins (left) and Eighth Leveler Sage Martin (right) work together to build a model house from blueprints in their classroom in Port Alexander. The school has struggled to maintain enrollment levels over the past year and has only nine students. Now they’re looking to a new magnetic school for help (Photo courtesy of Molly Kimzey)

Since 1999, more more than 40 schools in Alaska have closed due to low enrollment, according to data from the state Department of Education and Early Childhood Development or DEED. Almost all of them were in remote locations where schools are essential to keeping small communities connected.

The southeastern town of Port Alexander has struggled with low enrollment for years, but they are looking to a creative solution to keep their school alive.

Port Alexander lies on the southeastern shore of Baranof Island, approximately 65 miles from Sitka. It is only accessible by seaplane or small boat.

According to the latest census (2010), the remote fishing community has only 52 year-round residents, up from thousands at the start of the 20th century. Their school enrollment has also declined.

“Last year they had nine…

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