PETERSBURG, Alaska — A school on Prince of Wales Island in southeast Alaska that saw only a handful of graduates last year is closing its doors due to a lack of students.
The small school on the northern end of the island in Port Protection is closed for the fall semester. The closure comes after the recent shuttering of two other schools in the Southeast Island School District, KFSK-FM reported (http://bit.ly/2cgeNFx).
Superintendent Lauren Burch said the Port Protection school had only a few graduates this year and that there are no school-age children left in the small community.
“You know it’s a small school and it’s isolated on the north end of the island,” Burch said. “I think we had five graduates this year and it pretty well cleaned out the local kids.”
The district plans to continue maintaining the school building, which was towed in from a logging camp on Kuiu Island 20 years ago, Burch said.
“You know we’re still maintaining that and running heat periodically to keep things safe,” Burch said. “So there’s a cost involved in maintaining that and a modest gym. And you know if we do see some students re-appear we will find a way to get it open again.”
Burch noted that the discussions in the Legislature about increasing the minimum threshold of students needed to receive school funding tends to steer people away from moving to small towns.
State estimates show Port Protection has a population of 54. The village is only accessible by boat or floatplane.
Information from: KFSK-FM, http://www.alaska.net/~kfsk/