Butte Elementary First To Go To Remote In Mat-Su District – After 23 Covid Cases In A Week

MAT-SU HAD HIGH HOPES  Superintendent Was Paid $20,000 Bonus Just To Keep His Schools Open  Butte Attitude: Motor home for sale in Butte aro...

MAT-SU HAD HIGH HOPES 

Superintendent Was Paid $20,000 Bonus Just To Keep His Schools Open 

Butte Attitude: Motor home for sale in Butte around 15 years ago. (Photo, Country Journal) 

...But Now, Butte Elementary Is Going 100% Remote On Monday, Due To Covid  


August 28th, 2021 

In early August of this year, the Matanuska-Susitna School Board decided it was going to address the Covid-19 pandemic square on. They decided they were going to keep their schools open this year, without a mask requirement and in spite of the raging Delta variant. 

The Mat-Su board gave their superintendent a $20,000 bonus to get the job done. 

Tom Bergey, who grew up in Gakona and went to Glennallen High School, is a Mat-Su board member. He was quoted in the Anchorage Daily News, on August 10th, 2021, explaining what they were doing:

"The city of Anchorage gave their superintendent a $15,000 bonus and publicized it, for keeping their schools closed," Tom Bergey said. "Our superintendent kept our schools open... this needs to be publicized to the state, that we are not rewarding an individual for closing our schools. We are rewarding an individual for keeping our schools open." The district decided that masks were not necessary in the schools, though recommended. 

And then school started for the Mat-Su Borough.  Within a very short time, masking was instituted at the Tech school, the buses were hit with a bus driver epidemic – and one of the district's schools has already been shut down due to the pandemic. 

As 9 new cases hit Palmer High School, 13 struck the Mat-Su Career and Tech school, and 21 hit Houston, the rough and ready little community of Butte has had 23 cases of the virus as of the weekend. 

So, Butte Elementary is going to be the first school in the sprawling Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District to go to remote learning – for at least a week, the district says.

The Mat-Su District is having a rough go of it. It's suffered 143 total Covid-19 cases in 7 days. And there's added confusion as the district struggles with its many sick bus drivers, and a complete, and widely publicized disruption of its bus routes. 

Butte, the location of the school that is closed, is a fiercely independent place, and not on the main drag. Although it's in the Mat-Su Borough, it's also (surprisingly, because of its extremely off-the-beaten path location) part of the Anchorage Metropolitan Statistical Area. Butte is around 5 miles southeast of Palmer, and you get to Butte over the Old Glenn Highway. 

Younger kids there go to the Butte Elementary School, and then head over to Palmer High School when they're older. Around 3,200 people live in Butte, so it's slightly larger than the Copper River Valley's population. 

Butte gets its name from a large, lone and craggy rock – the Bodenburg Butte. 

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