ANSEP proposal to re-purpose Mt. Edgecumbe High comes under criticism

While other groups have rallied in support of Mt. Edgecumbe High School, Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Tribal Council hasn’t yet taken a formal position on a proposal from the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program to take over the school.

(Photo courtesy Mt. Edgecumbe High School)
(Photo courtesy Mt. Edgecumbe High School)

Students from Mt. Edgecumbe visited the Tribal Council at its meeting this month to keep them in the loop about the school’s plans to pushback against the ANSEP proposal.

Hannah Kimber and Rachel Teter are seniors at the high school. They told council members they are writing letters, speaking with Sitka High School and drafting a resolution to bring to the Alaska Association of student Government.

Kimber said they surveyed all but 20 of the school’s 391 students and 90 percent are in favor of keeping it as is—a four-year high school.

“Basically what we found altogether is we still want Edgecumbe the way it is we don’t want anything to change,” said Kimber. “Most of the students felt that part of the reason Edgecumbe is Edgecumbe to me is part of the tradition. I might not be Alaska Native but when you’re going to Edgecumbe you’re accepted by everybody.”

Last month, ANSEP founder Herb Schroeder floated his idea in front of lawmakers in the Joint House & Senate Education Committees. He said a three-year school would save the state millions.

Council member Ben Miyasato wants the body to come out either for or against ANSEP’s proposal. He says Sitka School Board has already sent a letter in opposition to ANSEP taking over the state-run boarding school.

Council member Rachel Moreno agreed.

“We need to – even if it’s not a resolution—make a statement because the school as it is now has provided a tremendous support to this community- socially, economically, spiritually—it has been there for us—all these students all this time,” Moreno said.

But, council member Wilbur Brown said if the Tribal Council is going to take a stance, it should be definitive.

“This is the second attack in two years so if we’re going to come out with a resolution it needs to be something stronger than just taking a stand against ANSEP,” said Brown. “They don’t even have a bill yet, they don’t have a sponsor so right now it’s just talk. We really should be prepping for the long-term battle. Edgecumbe really needs to be left alone and that’s one of our priorities.”

Others felt like they needed more information. Council member Matt Miller says he’d rather wait until there’s actually a concrete plan in front of the Alaska State Legislature before writing a letter.

The topic will go to the tribal council’s legislative committee for consideration.