Newtok school relocation delayed until Fall 2019

Lower Kuskokwim School District Assistant Superintendent Carlton Kuhns at Newtok last spring for the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new village site of Mertarvik. The temporary school in Mertarvik will now be delayed until Fall of 2019. (Christine Trudeau / KYUK)

Relocating the Newtok school into a temporary building at Mertarvik will be delayed until the fall of 2019. What’s the hold up? The Newtok Village Council informed the Lower Kuskokwim School District that the problem is a lack of housing.

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The district had hoped that they would be able to make the move this summer, but now it looks to be over a year away.

LKSD Assistant Superintendent Carlton Kuhns said that housing for families won’t be available this fall, so the kids would not be at Mertarvik to be taught.

“It is going to happen, there is vertical construction happening over there,” Kuhns said. “Managing the funding sources the Tribal Council has, has got to be incredibly difficult.”

That’s with funds coming from three or four different federal and state agencies.

Superintendent Dan Walker also told the LKSD board that he’s concerned about teachers getting stranded without housing at the new village site. Walker told the Board that the district’s lobbyist has been in touch with both Y-K Delta legislative representatives and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott, who told him that they aim to have $400,000 budgeted specifically for teacher housing. Walker added that the district is trying to get one of the retrofitted military barracks being barged in from Anchorage for village housing set aside for teacher housing at Mertarvik, but that won’t happen until 2019.

Walker said that the district is also seeking funds from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.