School district seeks Gruening, ERES input through online survey

Friday, February 8, 2019 - 19:07
  • A placard outside Eagle River Elementary School warns people of “wall collapse” at the school, which was severely damaged in the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake. On Tuesday, the Anchorage School District announced both Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle School will be closed for the 2019-20 school year. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

The Anchorage School District has released an online survey to solicit opinions about what to do about a pair of damaged schools in Eagle River.

The survey was announced to parents in a mass email sent by the district Friday night.

“The purpose of this survey is to seek community comments and recommendations concerning options for the next academic year,” reads the survey.

The district has scheduled four public meetings over the next two weeks to discuss the situation at Gruening Middle School and Eagle River Elementary School, both of which suffered major damage in the Nov. 30, 2018 earthquake and will be closed through at least the 2019-20 school year. The meetings will include ASD officials and members of an ad hoc committee of Anchorage School Board members chaired by board member Elisa Snelling of Eagle River.

Students from Gruening have been attending classes at Chugiak High, while students from Eagle River Elementary have been housed at Ravenwood, Birchwood ABC and Homestead Elementary.

Meetings will be held Feb. 12 and 21 at Chugiak High and Feb. 13 and 20 at Eagle River High. All four meetings are at 6 p.m. The Chugiak meetings will be to discuss secondary education options, while the Eagle River meetings will be to discuss elementary school options. The Feb. 20 and 21 meetings will give a summary of input.

The meetings will only be to talk about short-term solutions, and the survey focuses on what to do during the 2019-20 academic year.

The seven-question survey released Friday asks questions about both elementary and secondary schools. In addition to questions seeking demographic data, the survey includes three questions that pertain to elementary and secondary school options for next year:

Which of these elementary attendance options are you most in favor of for the 2019-2020 school year?

- Continue the current solution: Eagle River Elementary K,1,2,3 students attending Homestead Elementary and Eagle River Elementary 4,5,6 students attending Birchwood ABC Elementary

- Temporary realignment of Eagle River Elementary attendance area boundaries with other local schools in an effort to keep families together

- I have no preference

- None of the above

Where is the best short-term location for the Eagle River Elementary K-6 Open Optional Program for the 2019-2020 school year? (These options are based on available space in the Eagle River/Chugiak area)

- Fire Lake

- Remain at Birchwood ABC

- Homestead

- I have no preference

Which of these attendance options for secondary students are you most in favor of for the 2019-2020 school year?

- Continue to house Gruening Middle School at Chugiak High School

- Temporary realignment of Gruening Middle School attendance area boundaries to disperse students among Clark, Central, and Mirror Lake Middle schools

- Retain Gruening Middle School students at Chugiak High School and bus JBER Gruening Middle School students to Mirror Lake

- No preference

- None of the above

The final question includes a blank space for respondents to share other options or recommendations.

In the email sent Friday, the district said there will not be an opportunity for people to comment via an “open mic.” Instead, district spokeswoman Catherine Esary said Friday afternoon that the surveys are the best way for people to share input.

“It’s really just to allow people to speak through the survey to give them an equal voice,” she said.

The district said long-term solutions will be discussed at future meetings.

For more information, visit To take the survey, visit

Here’s the text of the email sent out by the district Friday:

Dear Chugiak/Eagle River Families, Employees, and Community Members,

As a result of the November 30, 2018 earthquake and subsequent building closures, the District must make decisions for the 2019-2020 academic school year. The District understands and appreciates that this topic is very important to our staff, students, families, and the community. ASD is committed to delivering the best education possible for all students. This is a team effort and ASD realizes that upcoming decisions must incorporate community input.

Please complete the Survey on 2019-2020 Educational Solutions for Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle School. This survey will be open until midnight February 15, 2019.

This is a reminder of upcoming community meetings.

Secondary (Chugiak/Gruening): February 12 — 6 p.m. — Chugiak High, 16525 S. Birchwood Loop Road

Elementary (Eagle River Elementary): February 13 — 6 p.m. — Eagle River High, 8701 Yosemite Drive

At these community meetings, the following information will be shared:

· Status of buildings, building capacities, and student enrollment numbers­­­­

· Preliminary lists of potential school options

· Planning process for long-term decisions

Please note: Due to the volume of community interest, there will not be the opportunity for open-mic engagement at this meeting. The District wants everyone’s input so please complete the survey.

Anchorage School District

Additionally, this year, Anchorage School District’s website has featured a Hot Topics section which has been updated with a new Chugiak/Eagle River Future Planning page (messaging to date is posted, including links to the latest survey).

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