The Sitka School Board formally accepted the resignation of president Lon Garrison Wednesday evening (8-26-15), starting a 30-day clock in which they must name a replacement.

Garrison’s resignation becomes effective on September 1st. The board hopes to interview applicants in a public meeting on September 15, and then move to executive session to consider their choice, whom they would swear in during a special meeting on September 21.

Garrison has served 8 years on the Sitka School Board. He’s leaving his post — and leaving Sitka — to become the school improvement coordinator for the Alaska Association of School Boards in Juneau.

Garrison is a biologist and fish culturist by training. The change in career has been surprising.

“Who’d have thought that eight years ago, coming on the Sitka school board, would change my life the way it has. But sometimes you never know what life is going to throw at you.”

The board presented Garrison with a tie in a Northwest Coast pattern, and a small copper tinnah to use as a tie tack. As part of his job, Garrison will travel to remote villages all over the state.

Anyone 18 years of age or older who is registered to vote in Alaska, and who has lived in the district for at least 30 days is eligible to apply to fill the vacancy. Letters of interest will be accepted through 4 PM Friday September 18 in the superintendent’s office. The successful applicant would serve on the board for one year, until the 2017 municipal election.

In other business, the school board allowed member Tom Conley to rescind his June letter of resignation.

Conley suffers from Parkinson’s disease. He had offered his resignation after an extended hospital stay when he felt he could not be effective. He told the board that he’s been feeling better and — given the circumstances of Garrison’s departure — wants to serve out his term through October 2017.

The board agreed to Conley’s request.

And finally, superintendent Mary Wegner reported that enrollment in the district was down slightly — at 1301 students. The district budget is built on an anticipated 1305 students.

Wegner said that there had been 9 withdrawals from kindergarten before the start of the school year — all of whom from families who are leaving Sitka. As a result, Baranof Elementary cut one classroom, and a teaching position was moved to Keet Gooshi Heen, which enrolled 10 more 4th graders than expected.

Wegner complimented the staff of Keet Gooshi Heen for setting up a new 4th grade classroom on short notice.

School for most students in Sitka opened today (Thu 8-27-15).