The Bristol Bay Times

Nikolski School to reopen with higher student enrollment expected

The Nikolski School on Umnak Island is planning to reopen for students this fall, after being closed for more than a decade. The Aleutian Region School District made the unanimous decision at a special meeting on Jan. 11.

Local families with at least 10 school-aged children are committed to sending their children to the public school next year, which meets the minimum student count required for state funding.

Mike Hanley, the superintendent of the Aleutian Region School District, said he collaborated closely with the families to gauge their interest in reopening the public school.

“They are longtime Nikolski families and this is their home,” Hanley said. “Now their children are school-aged.”

The Yakov E. Netsvetov School in Atka is currently the only operating school in the Aleutian Region School District. Adak’s school closed last year due to low enrollment, reflecting a nationwide trend.

Mark Snigaroff, a school district board member representing Atka, said, “I’m so happy we got another school. I thought we were going to be the only school left in the district.”

The Nikolski School closed in 2009 due to low enrollment, but families remained on the island and homeschooled their children. Archeological evidence suggests that the Unangax̂ community has made the Village of Nikolski, or Chalukax̂, their home for thousands of years, making it one of the oldest continuously occupied villages in the world.

The search for a Nikolski School teacher is currently underway. In the meantime, Hanley is working with the state to ensure all necessary paperwork is completed for a smooth reopening this August.