OPINION: Teck Red Dog's contributions to school district noteworthy
For many years, Teck Red Dog Operations has been one the strongest partners to the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, supporting programs and initiatives that are helping our youth build a bright future for themselves.
For each of the past five years, Teck has directly provided $2.4 million to the school district, as part of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) agreement with the Northwest Arctic Borough. These funds have made it possible for us to have a full complement of teachers in each school. The educational programs supported by Teck have provided quality Career Technical Education. Teck's support with the Alaska Legislature also helped us to secure $14 million to remodel vocational facilities, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, build a student dormitory and hire experienced instructors. Red Dog has hired dozens of vocational program graduates from the Alaska Technical Center.
The life skills our students learn as part of these programs and in working with Red Dog - being respectful, avoiding conflict, working as a team - are also Inupiat values. They are values that help students to succeed throughout their life.
In addition to these programs, Teck has provided additional special funding of $250,000 per year for the Teck John Baker Youth Leaders Program, which has literally saved lives, reducing the incidence of tragic youth suicides in our region since it was established.
Supported by these partnerships, the Northwest Arctic Borough School District is outperforming other districts in terms of student success rate, number of students completing grade 12, students receiving their GED and our programs and overall performance.
Other school districts, vocational schools and statewide education personnel have been impressed - and we think somewhat envious - of this relationship and what it has made possible for our school district. It is clear that the strong relationship between Teck Red Dog Operations and the Northwest Arctic Borough School District has delivered incredible benefits for our schools and our youth over the years.
Dr. Annmarie O'Brien is the superintendent of the Northwest Arctic Borough School District. Sandy Shroyer-Beaver is school board president.