Amid uncertainty, Juneau schools still supporting families hurt by shutdown

Juneau School Board member Emil Mackey congratulates Bridget Weiss for being selected interim superintendent of the Juneau School District on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018.

Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018, when she was named interim superintendent. (Photo by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

During the five-week government shutdown, the Juneau School District saw an increase in families applying for free or reduced-price school meals.

According to the district’s food services program, 17 families affected by the shutdown are now receiving meal benefits.

Superintendent Bridget Weiss said last week’s deal to reopen government does not mean those benefits will disappear immediately.

“It sounds like there may be at least a short-term solution for federal employees, but we also recognize that it may take time for those families to readjust financially,” said Weiss.

Congressional leaders and President Donald Trump agreed to reopen the government on Friday with a three-week funding measure, as negotiations over border wall funding continued. If no subsequent agreement is reached, another shutdown would begin after Feb. 15.

Weiss said the district recognizes there’s still uncertainty for federal workers about when they’ll be paid, and they could be back in the same position next month.

“We are looking at this a little longer-term and are open to supporting families as we move through the next few months,” she said.

Support goes beyond school meals, she said. Families can also get help with things like activity fees and school supplies.

She encourages families having a hard time for any reason, at any time in the school year, to talk to their children’s teachers, principals or district staff about available resources.

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