Wrangell High School in May 2023. (Sage Smiley/KSTK)

Wrangell Public School officials are hopeful they will receive state funds for capital improvement projects this year. Their funding request placed 16th on the list of school maintenance priorities.

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, DEED, provides the funding.

The school district requested a total of $10 million. Overall, 95 projects from schools across Alaska were on the list. 

Josh Blatchley, Wrangell School District’s Maintenance Director, said that it was nice to see Wrangell placed fairly high on the list, even though the money must be approved by the legislature first.

“Last year they approved $19.6 or $20 million for school improvement projects,” he said. “In order to get our project funded at the 16th place, it would take roughly $42 million worth of appropriations before we had the funding for our project. So although we did rate high, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence that that the state will be able to fund that many projects.”

The state prioritizes the schools on the maintenance list by working down the list, in chronological order, until the money runs out. 

Blatchley said there are specific priorities for Wrangell School District’s infrastructure.

“Our goal is to have the roof on the elementary school, rebuild a new roof on the middle school, new siding on the high school with some flat roofs to be rebuilt, and then some consideration given to the heating supply and distribution system in the high school and middle school,” he said.

About a year and a half ago, Wrangell voters approved a $3.5 million general obligation bond, that is Wrangell’s 35% matching fund for the $10 million project.

Blatchley said they picked the projects the school district could afford to match the funds.

He said that if Wrangell School District doesn’t get the state funds, they will address as much as they can with local money.

“If we don’t qualify for this state grant and the money is not allocated through the legislature, then we are going to have to do something with the general obligation bond that the voters passed a year and a half ago,” he said. “So with those funds, we will pick what we can out of our projects that we can accomplish for that $3.5 million.”

He said the top projects will probably be the middle school roof and the siding of the high school.