Voices of Alaska Education
Commentary is taking a publishing break during June and July.
We'll be back in August. Have a great summer!
Newsletter of the Association of Alaska School Boards
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

Norm Wooten
AASB Executive Director

Lori Grassgreen
Director of Alaska ICE

Claudia Plesa,
Community Engagement Educator and Coordinator
Effective Legislative Advocacy is a Year-Round Effort
Now that the 30th Legislature has been "put to bed" and the capitol offices are empty, school board members can sit back and put away your "advocacy cap" until January 2019. Oh no, we need to rethink that idea.
Taking STEPS in Southeast Alaska
How do we improve outcomes for students and families? This essential question is asked by school board members, administrators, teachers, parents, social service managers, tribal leaders, and organizational partners. The short answer is "together." 
5 Minute Read >
What helped you succeed in school? 
This month I co-hosted a webinar on community engagement. It was an opportunity for new school board members to come together and discuss why community engagement matters, and what role they can play. We started our discussion by asking a simple question: 
Legislative Session Recap 
Alaska State Capitol Building
So how did education fare during the second session of the 30th Legislature? Overall, pretty well. Both bodies passed multiple pieces of legislation. Many of these bills are on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature.  

Following the session's adjournment on May 13, the Governor has 20 days, excluding Sundays, to take action on bills the legislature has passed. During this period, the Governor may have a bill examined by the Department of Law and affected agencies before acting on it. By constitutional mandate, the Governor must either sign the bill, veto the bill, or let it become law without his signature.
In all, twenty-one education-related bills were passed this session addressing an array of topics that impact districts and schools.
AASB To Host National State Trainers & Planners Conference 

AASB is thrilled to be hosting Timi Tullis and Lon Garrison's national work-alike group in Alaska this summer. It is the one time of year that trainers and conference planners from state school board associations across the country get together and share their tips and ideas around best practices for working with boards. Attendees include trainers from 17 states as well as from the National School Boards Association.  
At each annual gathering, attendees gain a wealth of knowledge from one another, and this year's agenda is full of exciting topics.  
The four-day event will feature keynote speakers and presenters President/CEO Liz Medicine Crow of First Alaskans Institute, Patrick Sidmore of the Alaska Mental Health Board, and AASB Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator Heather Coulehan.
In addition, trainers from state associations will host sessions on a variety of topics including incorporating stakeholder voices, strategic planning, racial equity, meeting facilitation skills, techniques for effective training, e-learning, school climate, and more.
During their time in Juneau, national attendees will also be treated to "Real Alaska" activities such as a crab boil, a salmon bake, and a whale watching cruise.  
Guest Columns
Uniting Around Shared Commitments 
By Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
Dr. Michael Johnson
For most everyone involved in our system of public education, I hope the last year included an introduction to the Alaska Education Challenge's "call to action." Dozens of school boards across the state have adopted three shared commitments for improving educational experiences for all of our students. With the arrival of summer comes a unique opportunity to enjoy a pause in the daily grind and spend some extra time thinking and pondering lessons learned and goals yet to be achieved.
What We Know - and Don't Know - About the Alaska Performance Scholarship
By Gretchen Becker, Research Analyst, Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE)
Gretchen Becker
ACPE Seeks School District Partners for Alaska Performance Scholarship Outcomes Analysis 
Each year, over two thousand high school graduates become eligible for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS). APS rewards high-achieving Alaska students for enrolling and persisting in postsecondary education at qualifying Alaska institutions and helps students cover the cost of attending college or career training programs. Would high-achieving students would have the same amount of success without the help of the scholarship aid? ACPE is asking for interested districts to partner on this important work within the next year. 
Taking a "Positive Deviant" Approach to Change 
By Ben Walker, 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year
Ben Walker
There is a lot of talk about how public education needs to change. I mean A LOT. Sometimes it gets very heated and, often, quite creative. For example, anyone with an Internet connection can venture into an online comments section and learn a whole bunch of new words. As a 12-year public school teacher and the 2018 Alaska State Teacher of the Year, I agree, to the surprise of many.
Board Policy, Unilateral Change, and Mandatory Subjects of Bargaining
By Lea Fillippi of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC 
Lea Filippi
Part four of a five-part part series on union issues in schools.  
State law requires public employers to negotiate with unions on matters of wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. But the law also carves out from mandatory bargaining "general policies describing the functions and purposes of a public employer." So school districts and other public employers are not required to bargain with unions regarding such matters.
 3 Minute Read >    
More from Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC:
Don't get into back-and-forth exchanges during public comment
By Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian 
When city councils, school boards or other public bodies hold their meetings, it is usual to reserve a time in the meeting for members of the public to speak to their elected officials. One common name for this is the public comment period. We strongly recommend that elected officials should not get into back-and-forth exchanges with members of the public during the public comment period.
An Update on Personalized Learning in Alaska
By Scott Johns, Associate Partner, Education Elements, Inc.
Scott Johns
In July 2017, I was fortunate to write a guest column for the AASB Commentary titled, "  Personalized Learning: What It Is and Why It Matters for Alaska". In that post, I shared our excitement to be working with both the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to implement personalized learning across their schools.  
Now with the close of the 2017-18 school-year upon us, I am eager to share an update on this work. Both districts have made incredible strides -- with principals setting inspirational visions, teachers testing instructional models designed specifically for their students, and students engaging in collaboration and reflection.
School Board Term Limits: Capping the Number of Years Is Something to Consider  
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Opinion 
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has term limits for its members. The borough mayor is subject to the same term limit. Members of the Interior Gas Utility board are subject to term limits. The Fairbanks City Council and city mayor are subject to term limits. The mayor and council members in North Pole are subject to term limits. Fairbanks borough school board members, however, are not. Members of the school district's governing board can serve as many three-year terms as voters want them to. 
Three Reasons That Career and Technical Education Doesn't Preclude College
The Hechinger Report Opinion   
Wes McEntee works on a manufacturing machine at Vermont Technical College. Photo: Oliver Parini 
A number of recent articles have highlighted the value of career and technical education (CTE) at the individual and system levels. It is truly wonderful to see these programs finally celebrated for all that they can do for students and communities. However, it's hard not to notice that many of these stories choose to emphasize a disconnect between career and technical education and "college," positioning the former as a pathway for students not bound for college. As advocates of these programs, we believe it's important to address this misconception head on.
3 Minute Read > 

Calling All Youth Heroes! 2018 Summer of Heroes Program is Here
Alaska Communications , in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs - Alaska , launched its annual Summer of Heroes program to recognize youth who make a difference in Alaska communities.

In its eighth year, the Summer of Heroes program recognizes five young heroes, plus one hero from the Employee Program, between the ages of 6 and 18 who are making a difference in their local communities.

Each hero will receive a $1,500 scholarship and special recognition in each hero's local community. Alaska Communications is asking parents, teachers, mentors, coaches and friends to nominate youths who have made an impact. A local 'hero' can be any youth who has:
  • Volunteered or raised significant funds for a cause
  • Made a difference in school through education or sports
  • Inspired others to take action
  • Made a significant contribution to his or her community
  • Considered others' needs before their own
Do you know a young person doing something heroic in their community? Please consider nominating him or her today!
Nominations will be accepted until July 20, 2018.
Save the Date: Alaska School Safety & Well-Being Summit, September 18-19, 2018
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) will be hosting a comprehensive statewide School Safety & Well-Being Summit, September 18-19, 2018 at the Egan Center in Anchorage. Each district will be provided funding up to $4300 to bring in a team that may include administrators, teachers, school counselors, parents, students, community members, and school board members. DEED has planned the Summit to accommodate teams of up to six from each district. More information to come.

DEED Contact Sharon Fishel: sharon.fishel@alaska.gov  
Walker Puts Signature on Education Funding Bill
Governor Walker signs education funding bill as Harborview Elementary School students look on. Photo: KTVA
Closely surrounded by elementary school kids full of endless energy, Gov. Bill Walker on Thursday signed a bill that ensures education funding won't be held hostage until the end of this session. Walker signed House Bill 287 at Harborview Elementary, which sits about one mile from the Capitol. The bill funds public education. What it means is many Alaska teachers could be avoiding pink slips for the upcoming school year. Districts must have their initial budgets submitted to municipalities by May 1; however, in recent years the Legislature has dragged budget talks well beyond that date.
2 Minute Read >
State-Run Raffle Could Be New Way to Fund Schools
By Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO, Juneau
Cartoon depicting how the donations from PFDs would be divided under the
recently passed bill.
Graphic: Alaska Legislature
Alaskans could have a new choice for what to do with their permanent fund dividends next year - a raffle that would fund public schools. Lawmakers passed  House Bill 213, a measure that would start a raffle that could pay a top prize as high as $24 million in the future.
At a time when Alaska lawmakers have struggled to close the gap between how much the state spends and what it brings in, finding new funding for public schools has been hard. Fairbanks Republican Sen. Click Bishop said he heard a wish during public testimony on the budget, year after year. " 'I wish I had a way to donate my permanent fund to... the general fund, or education,'" Bishop said. "And now you've got a vehicle to do that."
4 Minute Read >
Interactive Map: See Where Students Have Graduated Across Alaska 
By Sidney Sullivan, KTUU 
Statewide high school graduation rates are on the rise, over the past decade, according to data sourced from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development's Data Center. In 2017, the number of Alaska's high school graduates increased by 3.42 percent since the previous year. Moreover, when comparing numbers of graduates from 2017 to 2008, the state had a graduation rate increase of 6.75 percent. Across the state last year, the Top 5 high schools with the greatest number of graduates were all located in Anchorage with at least 345 graduates, in 2017. The very next top school pushing out graduates was the Interior Distance Education of Alaska (IDEA), with 305 graduating students.
View the Interactive Map >
LKSD Seniors to be Awarded Seal of Biliteracy at Graduation
Lower Kuskokwim School District    
The Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) is pleased to announce that 16 Seniors will be awarded the Seal of Biliteracy during their graduation ceremonies in May. The Seal of Biliteracy is a new LKSD award given to students who meet proficiency standards in the Yup'ik and English languages. Each recipient will be awarded a medallion along with the Seal of Biliteracy stamp on the diploma, as well as a special notation on the transcript.
UAF Hosts 4-Day Alaska Native Language Institute to Help Preserve Knowledge       
By Dan Bross, KUAC, Fairbanks   
Alaska Native languages were the focus of a recent four-day institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Alaska Native Language Revitalization Institute was hosted by the UAF College of Rural and Community Development. College director of Indigenous programs Sandra Kowalski says the conference reflects a new urgency to preserve Alaska's diversity of Native languages. "Recently, the Legislature passed a resolution declaring that our Alaska Native languages are in a state of emergency," Kowalski said. "In addition to that, just in recent years, we've seen an increased interest by young people to become second language speakers."
17 Months After Launch, Personalized Learning Affects All Area Schools
By Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner  
Tanana Middle School teacher listens to 8th grade students give their proposal for a Personalized Learning Service Project.
Photo: Eric Engman
Students in Jeannette Fortune's class at Ladd Elementary School spend one hour a week learning about a subject of their choosing. The 8- and 9-year-olds have investigated earthquakes, solar panels, hot air balloons and robots. Students have studied football tackles, chameleons, the state of West Virginia and volcanoes. In March, Fortune hosted an open house where her third graders created videos and built cardboard models to show what they had learned. Brayden Leach made a hammerhead shark out of foam and paper and shared facts about the predator. "This is the first time I really feel like Brayden has been pushed to his potential," said the 9-year-old's mother.  
3 Minute Read >
Reception Mixed on ASD Proposal to Switch School Start Times 
By Victoria Petersen, Alaska Public Media, Anchorage     
Community members gather inside Lake Hood Elementary to learn about potential school start time changes.
Photo: Victoria Petersen
The Anchorage School District is considering a huge change. The district is looking at implementing new school start times, with elementary schools starting earlier and high schools later. The district held a series of open houses recently to educate the community and hear feedback. At the first open house, poster boards are set up on tables inside Lake Hood Elementary. Parents, teachers and community members were gathered around tables, talking with school district personnel about potential start time changes.
3 Minute Read >
New PBS Show 'Molly of Denali' to Feature Alaska Native in Title Role
By  Adelyn Baxter, KTOO, Juneau
The upcoming PBS KIDS program "Molly of Denali" features an Alaska Native character in the title role. (Image courtesy of WGBH Educational Foundation)
A new animated children's series debuting on PBS KIDS next summer will feature an Alaska Native character in the title role. "Molly of Denali" is the first nationally distributed children's series to feature an Alaska Native character in a leading role. PBS announced the new series Wednesday at its annual meeting. The multiplatform show features 10-year-old Molly Mabray living in a fictional village in Alaska. She helps her parents run the Denali Trading Post general store and bunkhouse and goes on adventures with her dog and friends. WGBH Boston is co-producing the series with Atomic Cartoons. Alaska Native advisers and consultants from across the state have been brought in, and the goal is to also use Alaska Native voice talent and script writers. 
2 Minute Read >
Frontiers Preview: The Anchorage Pioneer School House
Anchorage students visit the Pioneer School House
Photo: KTVA 
It's an annual ritual for second graders in Anchorage - a field trip to the Pioneer School House - to travel back in time to 1915, the year the school was built. More than a thousand children passed through the school's doors this week. As they clambered up the steps, volunteers from the Anchorage Woman's Club greeted them, dressed in severe, long black skirts and sweaters, with old fashioned, white blouses - the kind teachers wore a hundred years ago.  
4 Minute Read >
Kashunamiut School Board Appoints New Superintendent
The Board of Education for the Kashunamiut School District is pleased to announce their unanimous choice for a new Superintendent, Dr. Corey Weiss, beginning July 1, 2018. Dr. Weiss comes to Chevak after recently serving as the principal in Pilot Station this past year and previously as the principal in Kotlik, both in the Lower Yukon School District.   
2 Minute Read >
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings
Looking for a New Superintendent?
The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting superintendent searches for over 20 years.
Learn about our Search Services >

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us >
Part-time Superintendent
Pelican City School District

The Pelican City School District Board of Education is seeking a part-time Superintendent for FY 2018-2019.
Please submit a letter of interest, current resume, Alaska Superintendent certification, and three references with: day/night phone numbers, address, and email to: rmattson@pelicanschool.org.
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