Voices of Alaska Education
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.
APRIL 2021
  • History of Education Policy series - Origins of the Children's Cabinet and Quality Schools Initiative by Shirley Holloway
  • Place Based Learning by Tyler Breen
  • Vaccine Incentives for Employees by Allen Clendaniel of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
  • Jurassic Parliament - Don’t Misuse Point of Personal Privilege
  • Ask AASB: When adopting or updating a policy, are motions required for both the first and second readings?
  • Save the Date - AASB Fall Boardsmanship Academy, September 18-19
  • Register for STEPS Partner Annual Gathering and NSBA Equity Symposium
  • Fill out the FAFSA - Assistance and Information
History of Alaska Education Policy
This series seeks to provide historical context for Alaska’s current education policies from the perspectives of those who helped to shape them.
Origins of the Children's Cabinet and Quality Schools Initiative
Shirley Holloway, former Commissioner,
Alaska Department of Education, 1995-99, 2001-03

I’m genuinely grateful for this invitation to recall our most significant accomplishments during my time as Commissioner of Education and Early Development in the Knowles Administration. I read former Commissioner Lind’s article in the March issue of this newsletter, recalling my own memories of those profound and challenging times of change for Alaska and its children.
As I reflect on my own time as Commissioner, there are two things that stand out, and on which I look back with pride: the formation of the Children’s Cabinet, and the development and execution of the Quality Schools Initiative.
Shirley Holloway
Recognized nationally as a governmental best practice, Children’s Cabinets focus on holistically addressing the well-being of children and families through collaborative governance. By bringing together disparate state agencies – which necessarily operate in virtual silos dictated by their individual missions – the Children’s Cabinet was able to mobilize resources and improve coordination to support Governor Knowles’ priorities for Alaska’s children.

The Value of Place in Student’s Learning
Tyler Breen, AASB Community Engagement Educator

As a student, I looked forward to field trips and school events that got me out of the classroom and into nature, museums, or local parks. As a teacher, I found my students gained the most when they got their hands dirty in practicing what we’d been talking about in class and then discussing what that experience meant for them. Using the environment, culture, and resources around me reenergized my classroom and helped students build on what they already know. This is the power of place. 
Tyler Breen
What I felt as a student and as a teacher was that Place-Based Learning (PBL) can be a powerful tool for engaging with students. Research has found that “place-based education helps students learn to take care of the world by understanding where they live and taking action in their own backyards and communities'' (Promise of Place, 2010). As the place-based learning support coordinator here at AASB, I’m always looking to connect with our districts to support their PBL efforts. 

What does place-based education look like in Alaska?

Vaccine Incentives for Employees
Allen Clendaniel of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Part 7 of the series, Ripped from the Headlines

On April 21, President Biden asked all employers to offer their workers paid time off so they could receive the COVID-1 vaccine. In Alaska, many private employers are already offering “incentives” to their employees to get vaccinated.  Some private employers are giving cash bonuses or extra vacation days if their employees get vaccinated.
Allen Clendaniel
As school districts prepare for next school year, many are hoping to have a fully vaccinated work force. Many Alaska school districts, however, are dealing with employees who are hesitant to get vaccine.

Can school districts offer vaccine incentives to their employees?  It’s a complicated question.

Don’t misuse Point of Personal Privilege
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
A reader writes to say that in his city council, the members frequently say, “Point of Personal Privilege,” and then go on to give their opinion about something.

This is wrong.

Robert’s Rules of Order explains that in a meeting, members may raise a Point of General Privilege, or a Point of Personal Privilege. Neither of these motions provides the opportunity to ramble on about a topic that isn’t related to the ongoing debate.

When adopting or updating a policy, are motions required for both the first and second readings?

Yes, motions are required. For the first reading, the motion would be to take up the policy for a first reading, and does require a second. At a subsequent meeting, a board member would make a motion to take up the policy for a second reading, which also requires a second. If the board is satisfied with the policy, another motion to adopt the policy would be made, also requiring a second. 
Most policies will follow the two reading process. However, some may require additional readings before the board chooses to adopt it. In other cases, depending on the circumstances, a board may waive a second reading, and adopt a policy after the first reading.
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at ASK AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
Plan to attend AASB’s Fall Boardsmanship Academy in Anchorage!

  • Share and connect with other school board members from around the state in person!
  • Hear updates from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development
  • Hone your boardsmanship skills in policy, personnel, trust & teamwork, and more! 
Pre-Academy Bonus Session
for Boards and Superintendents!

Friday, September 17th

Understanding Roles and Learning to Row Together
John Sedor, Sedor Wendlandt Evans & Filippi
Join the Association of Alaska School Boards team!
Click below for position descriptions and application information.
Grant Manager/Project Coordinator

AASB, an education-focused non-profit, is looking for a skilled and experienced professional to fill their Grant Manager/ Project Coordinator position. This is a full time position responsible for supporting various grant-funded projects.
Fatherhood/Family Partnership Coordinator

A full or part time position supporting school district and community staff working with fathers and co-parents to strengthen fatherhood skills, deepen family/school partnerships, and improve co-parenting relationships.
Did you miss any of these informative webinars?

No worries!

Access the entire series here!

  • Holding Your Meetings Remotely
  • School Law Basics
  • Working with Your Community
  • Working with Your Board
  • Board Policy - Development and Use for Governance
  • The Board and the Budget
  • School Finance with an Expert!
  • The Superintendent - Building a Relationship
  • Effective Meetings & Roberts Rules of Order
Winners of the 2021
June Nelson Memorial Scholarship!

This year’s successful fundraising efforts have allowed AASB to award fifteen $1,500 scholarships, which may be applied toward the student’s choice of a business, trade, or college institution.

Of this year’s 95 applicants, thirteen graduating Alaska high school seniors, and 2 college sophomores, have been selected to receive June Nelson scholarships. One of the fifteen scholarships was awarded to a student pursuing a credential in career and technical education (a skilled trade).

Meet 15 remarkable students from across Alaska and read their winning essays!
Articles in this section are excerpted from the AASB STEPS Alaska Promise Neighborhood Newsletter that focuses on the work in progress among the Supporting Transitions and Educational Promise Southeast Alaska (STEPS Alaska) grant regional partners, who are striving to improve outcomes for Southeast Alaska’s youth.
Yakutat: Kicks off summer STEM/STEAM and place-based learning in May 

May is a great month for place-based learning in Yakutat as they start off with Sea Week! The elementary school does Sea Week every year. It is a full week of field trips, hands on learning, exploring and students really getting to know the area around them. Some of the students favorite lessons are about our intertidal zones, sea birds and learning about the importance of phyto and zooplankton.

Yakutat is also beginning their first year of community gardening! The community garden has dedicated 24 plots for all students K-12 to use.

Angoon: Youth Conservation Corps: Highlights from 2020 and Looking to the 2021 Season

Even though there was some uncertainty about the 2020 season, the Angoon YCC was able to pull together one of their strongest seasons to date. 

The program employed 8 Native youth throughout the summer and were able to complete four successful multi-day work trips in the Kootznoowoo Wilderness on Admiralty Island National Monument. 

A major highlight of this program was having the youth conduct interviews with Elders and Culture-bearers regarding the cultural importance of Cedar.  

Southeast Students Transitioning to Elementary School

With one-third of students in Juneau skipping kindergarten last fall and many Head Start classrooms across the region closed to all but virtual learning this past year, we know that our youngest learners will need more support than ever while transitioning into a school setting. 

The Sitka School District is planning to include first graders as well as kindergartners in their summer camps and will have a big focus on social and emotional skills like self-regulation and persistence.

Credit recovery needs now, and into the future:

Based on student data, a number of STEPS school districts and partners
are making plans for credit recovery options over the summer. Recent data from the Juneau School District’s Indicators of Success published in February 2021 underscores the importance of giving students opportunities to get back on track. The report compared metrics like enrollment, grades and credits earned
for the fall of 2020 with those of 2019. 
Not surprisingly there are some differences between the two semesters.

Summer Construction Academy - May 24-29
Tlingit & Haida is collaborating with UAS to support students participating in summer Intro to Construction Courses by covering the cost of travel, lodging, food, and tuition. Week-long intensive courses include S102–Intro to Construction, S103–Hand and Power tools, S104–Safety OSHA. Students will receive 3 UAS credits, OSHA Construction Safety certification. Contact
Tlingit & Haida Navigators Tutoring Services
For students needing extra support, the Navigators team is now offering one-on-one virtual tutoring services that align with students’ schedules. Students can register here or contact Kaley Hoyle at 907-463-7752
Broadband benefits for low-income households
The FCC recently extended these benefits: https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit
UAS’s Successful Scholars
For incoming freshman.
A strong support system can make a big difference in how students navigate the changes and challenges of college.
The Successful Scholars Program is designed to provide that support for first-generation, low income and/or underrepresented college students at the University of Alaska Southeast. If you know of students headed to UAS, contact Tina Ryman to learn how they can participate in Successful Scholars.
To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
You are their first and most important teacher. ❤️

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

The February Equity Online Symposium was a huge success with more than 2,000 registrants. We will be continuing those important conversations and introducing topics of safety for our schoolchildren during the July 13-14 event.

Through NSBA’s Center for Safe Schools and Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education (DIRE) initiative, you’ll explore the themes of DIRE through the lens of school safety and equity. 
  • Day one will align the work of the Center for Safe Schools and make connections between issues of institutional racism on areas such as student mental health and discipline. 
  • Day two will lean deeper into the role of the board in understanding and interrupting systemic impediments to safe and inclusive school environments. 
Join an Equity Council

NSBA’s Councils offer unique opportunities for school board members and school leaders to get involved, strengthen their advocacy skills, and be part of a dynamic collaboration.Learn more about the councils.
The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education recently published the Higher Education Almanac. It found that the cost burden for Alaskans students to access postsecondary opportunities was among the lowest in the nation. Alaska also had the highest rate of postsecondary students graduating without debt.

In other words, if you’re interested in going off to college or getting a certification, it will likely cost less in Alaska. But it turns out that low-income students are not accessing these opportunities. Alaska ranks 50th when it comes to low-income students participating in the postsecondary education.

Alaska also ranks last when it comes to FAFSA completion. Completing the FAFSA - the application form that qualifies students for financial aid - has been shown to increase enrollment and retention rates.
Need FAFSA Assistance?

The priority deadline to file the FAFSA for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) and the Alaska Education Grant (AEG) is June 30.

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education offers multiple support pathways to help students, families, schools, and districts with the FAFSA submission process.

Visit the Alaska FAFSA Completion website to find information about virtual Alaska FAFSA Completion Campaign events and download FAFSA Completion & State of Alaska Financial Aid resources.
Building Self Esteem and Healthy Communities Through Music
Students in Hughes practice playing ukuleles.
Rack of guitars in a Hughes classroom.
Dancing with the Spirit connects youth and elders through school music programs and camps–promoting spiritual, physical, and mental wellness with the joy, love, and hope of music.

Our goal is to prevent suicide, drug, alcohol, and domestic abuse by building self-esteem, preserving musical traditions, and encouraging strong healthy communities.

During the past 15 years we've traveled to 55 Alaskan villages with plane or truck loads of guitars and fiddles for week-long school music programs.
Start a Music Program at Your School
Dancing with the Spirit has received grants this year from the RurAL CAP Foundation and Can'd Aid to buy instruments for rural schools that want to continue or start music programs. Fill out the Instrument Request Form below and let us help you keep the music going! 

We're also available for FREE virtual lessons at your school on a weekly or occasional basis. Students who can sing and play 5 songs are eligible for a free Dancing with the Spirit sticker. 

Dancing with the Spirit has produced a free downloadable music curriculum with song videos and fiddle and tuning videos, plus a songbook with colored chords and colored fiddle tab. Volume 1 is on our website and Volume 2 is coming soon!

What are the Academic Decathlon and Pentathlon?

The Academic Decathlon and Pentathlon are national scholastic team competitions designed to stimulate intellectual growth, develop critical thinkers, and create lifelong learners. Both programs hold State Competitions where particpants can earn medals, trophies, and scholarships (high school only).

Students match their intellects with students from other schools and earn medals, trophies, and scholarships. Winning teams represent Alaska at the U.S. Academic Decathlon and Pentathlon National Competitions.

The Alaska Academic Decathlon (high school) and Pentathlon (middle school) engages and challenges students both individually and as an integral part of a team of with varying GPAs. Each team must include students from the following categories:
Honors (3.8 - 4.0 GPA), Scholastic (3.2--3.799 GPA) and Varsity (0-3.199 GPA).

Ready to Start a School Team?

SERRC has expanded the 2021-2022 Alaska Academic Decathlon program to include college credits for coaches and high school students, partnered with the UA system to offer more scholarships, and is launching the Alaska Academic Pentathlon program.

Both programs can be offered as either an elective course or an extra-curricular activity. The curriculum is aligned with national standards and created by the U.S. Academic Decathlon - all you need is a coach (and they can earn UAA 500-level credits for participating)!
Decathlon curriculum, competition experience, and scholarships
Pentathlon curriculum, competition experience, and scholarships
How to recruit and register Decathlon and Pentathlon teams.
Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Alaska lawmakers pass COVID-19 disaster declaration bill, with $8 million in federal food aid on the line
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News
The Alaska Legislature has approved a plan to retroactively extend Alaska’s COVID-19 emergency declaration through the end of the year and keep the state eligible for millions of dollars in federal aid.

Senators voted 14-6 on Wednesday to approve a modified version of a bill that passed the House in March. Around 8:30 p.m., the House voted 25-15 to agree with the Senate changes and send the bill to Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Begich, D-Anchorage (facing camera), talks to Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, before a meeting of the Alaska Senate.
Photo: James Brooks / ADN
Jeff Turner, a spokesman for the governor, said Dunleavy will review the bill Thursday.

Alaska’s COVID-19 emergency declaration expired in February, but legislators and the governor need to have some kind of disaster declaration in place by Friday to keep Alaska eligible for $8 million in extra monthly food assistance benefits paid to low-income Alaskans.

In the longer term, operating without a declared disaster would endanger access to tens of millions of dollars in FEMA disaster aid. It could also cause problems for the handling of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.

Senators debated amendments to the bill for nearly seven hours but made few changes to a proposal that had already been modified by the Senate Finance Committee.

Seeking to prevent teacher layoffs, Alaska House votes to pay for public schools thru 2023
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News
In an attempt to prevent Alaska school districts from temporarily laying off teachers, the state House of Representatives on Thursday approved two years’ worth of public school funding.

The education bill, which passed 26-14 against opposition from the House’s Republican minority, now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Alaska State Capitol in Juneau.
Photo: James Brooks
Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, and Senate Finance Committee chairman Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said in separate interviews that federal coronavirus aid means immediate action is not needed. Micciche said he has not yet heard from the Senate majority on the issue, but he and Stedman said they want to see school funding considered as part of a statewide budget bill.

But in extensive public debate on Thursday, House lawmakers said they want to avoid any kind of timing problem. Some local school districts must approve their budgets by mid-May, but lawmakers don’t expect to finish work on the state’s operating budget until May 19, the last day of the Legislature’s regular session.

Hoping for a ‘Mississippi miracle’ Alaska lawmakers push bipartisan reading bill
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
Alaska’s kids have some of the worst reading scores in the country. Historically, other states such as Mississippi have kept Alaska company at the bottom of national rankings on fourth grade reading ability. But, while Alaska has remained at the bottom, sinking to last place in the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, Mississippi’s students have soared — from 49th place in 2013 to 29th place in 2019.
A student in a classroom at Redington Sr.
Jr/Sr High School in Wasilla on Sept. 21, 2020.
Photo: Jeff Chen
Senate Bill 111 would intensify interventions for students identified as struggling readers by the time they finish third grade, using help from the state education department to create individual reading plans. It would also require Alaska’s kindergarten through third grade teachers to be trained in reading science.

Governor, lawmakers unveil plan to use $76.8M federal windfall to fund ferries for 18 months
Eric Stone, KRBD Ketchikan
The governor and legislative leaders have agreed on a rough plan to use federal pandemic relief from Congress to help stabilize Alaska’s beleaguered ferry system.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and lawmakers say a nearly $77 million windfall would allow the state to fund the Alaska Marine Highway System for the next year and a half. The governor visited Ketchikan on Thursday and discussed his proposal.
Three ferries dock at the Ketchikan Shipyard for repairs and upgrades in 2012. All 11 ships would tie up by early July if the Legislature does not reach a budget compromise. Photo: Ed Schoenfeld
A $900 billion bill passed by Congress in the final days of 2020 included $14 billion for mass transit. This month, state leaders learned $76.8 million of that could be used for the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Now, Gov. Mike Dunleavy proposes funding the ferry system in next year’s budget for 18 months rather than the usual 12. That means this year’s budget would cover ferry operations from July 1 of this year through the end of 2022 he said during a stop in Ketchikan.

Study: Alaska is underfunding maintenance of schools
Sabine Poux, KDLL
The state of Alaska should be spending more on building maintenance for its K-12 schools, according to a recent study from the Institute of Social and Economic Research.

Institute research professor Bob Loeffler authored the study. He said it’s part of the institute’s ongoing analysis of Alaska’s revenue and fiscal issues.
Lockers at Kenai Central High School.
Photo: Sabine Poux
"Right now, our level of funding is not sustainable," he said. "And our schools will degrade if we spend the money we’re spending now. We need to spend more.”

How are school districts planning to support students this summer?
Lori Townsend, Alaska Public Media
Across the state, school districts have worked hard to piece together in-person and distance learning curriculum for students as the COVID-19 pandemic seriously disrupted education. Some students fared okay, while others have struggled. Some have not engaged much at all. What are the plans for summer school to help students stay on track?

Talk of Alaska Time 58:58
Aurora Elementary teacher Brianna Lundberg helps second graders sound out words during the after school tutoring program.
Photo: Mayowa Aina
Fewer Alaska students qualifying for or using state scholarship fund, review finds
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
A state funded scholarship designed to boost academic performance and college access in Alaska isn’t paying out as many scholarships as anticipated, according to a new review.

The biggest barriers appear to be SAT/ACT test requirements and political and funding instability around the University of Alaska system.
East High graduate, Albert Timo, after receiving his diploma on Thursday, May 21, 2020 in Anchorage. Photo: Hannah Lies
The report analyzed use of the Alaska Performance Scholarship, which pays scholarship money to Alaskan students based on GPAs and standardized test scores, for the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. Money for the scholarship comes from the state’s Higher Education Investment Fund, which was initially created by the Legislature with $400 million.

ASD superintendent and former governor among 8 finalists to lead University of Alaska Anchorage
Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media
The superintendent of the state’s largest school district, a former Alaska governor and a former head of Utqiaġvik’s tribal college are among eight finalists in the running to become the next chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. The UAA Chancellor Search Committee announced the finalists, chosen from a pool of 54 applicants.
The University of Alaska Anchorage sign.
Photo: Tegan Hanlon
The three Alaskans are Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop, former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell and Pearl Brower, former president of Iḷisaġvik College. The other five finalists are leaders at universities outside of Alaska.

Play-by-play in Cup’ik: A small Western Alaska radio station broadcasts state basketball action in its region’s Native language
Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News
Like basketball announcers across the country each spring, Steven Stone Sr. concentrated to keep up with a flurry of postseason action on the court. But from the balcony of a Wasilla gym, Stone called plays unlike any other broadcaster. He called the game in Cup’ik. That adds an additional challenge to his work at the state championship tournaments for small Alaska schools, he said.

Steven Stone Sr. calls the play-by-play as the Hooper Bay girls basketball team faces Glennallen in the second round of the 2A state basketball championship on April 2, 2021, at Palmer High School. Photo: Marc Lester
Yup’ik engineers team up to build Yugtun language learning apps
Greg Kim, KYUK
Two Yup’ik engineers are carrying Yugtun, the Central Alaskan Yup’ik language, into the future using technology. Their latest project opens the door for a Yugtun autocorrect, grammar checkers and automatic subtitles on Yup’ik videos.

There are only a handful of Yup’ik computer scientists in the world, according to Christopher Egalaaq Liu of Bethel and Lonny Alaskuk Strunk of Quinhagak.
Lonny Alaskuk Strunk (left) and Christopher Egalaaq Liu (right) in Seattle in 2018.
Photo: Christopher Egalaaq Liu
The pair have teamed up to create what’s likely the most advanced Yugtun translation tool available online. “There’s nothing like it,” Liu said. “It’s the first tool of its kind.”

Yup’ik Spelling Bee Inspires Inupiaq Spelling Bee
Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK
It’s been 10 years since the first Statewide Yup’ik Spelling Bee was held, and it will expand to include Inupiat spellers on April 17. Freda Dan, who organized the first Yup’ik Spelling Bee, said that the Inupiaq competition is the result of the efforts of one community: Brevig Mission.

“Brevig Mission managed to go through the mock school in District B,” said Dan. “So now we’re going to finish the cycle with a statewide spelling bee for them.”

The rules in this spelling bee are a bit different. Dan said that competitors are not eliminated if they spell a word wrong. Instead, the winner is the person who spells the most words correctly.

L-R: First place winner Angniun Opriann Lomack of Akiachak, second place winner Akagaralria Auna Friday of Chevak, and third place winnter Allirkaar Richelle Phillip of Akiachak.
Fourth-grader makes history at Inupiaq spelling bee
Johanna Eurich, KYUK
A fourth-grader became the winner of the first ever statewide Iñupiaq spelling bee.

Competitors had a tough time getting to the Yup’ik and Iñupiaq Statewide Spelling Bee this year, having to overcome the pandemic and weather just to attend.

The competition had fewer participants due to COVID-19, and a three-day whiteout almost kept one village from making an appearance. But the statewide event began, just a little later than planned, starting in the evening instead of the morning.

When the whiteout in Brevig Mission ended, the village’s team flew to Anchorage, arriving in the afternoon of April 17. At 6 p.m., they took the stage in the first-ever Statewide Iñupiaq Spelling Bee, led by coach Angie Alston.

Kopeck Kaitlin Alston is the first ever winner of the Inupiaq Spelling Bee. Photo: Angie Alston
Interior Alaska athletes compete in 2021 Native Youth Olympics
Hart Pisani, Fairbanks Daily News Miner
With a year unlike any other, the Native Youth Olympics will not be holding a state title competition this season. That didn’t stop local schools from holding one last competition.

The final Senior NYO competition for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District was held at Ryan Middle School in Fairbanks. The competition is for 7th-12th grade students in the Alaska Interior and consists of traditional Alaskan Native games, similar to the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics. The one difference is that competitors are not required to be Native.

“It’s nice for these athletes and kids to have some closure,” said North Pole coach Michael Hollett, who helped organize the event. “I think that’s what everyone missed so much last year with COVID ending everything.

Abby Malette competes in the one-hand reach during the 2021 Native Youth Olympics. Photo: Hart Pisani
With tribe’s input, Wasilla High updated ‘warrior’ logo but kept Indigenous mascot
Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media
Wasilla High School is altering the logo of its warrior mascot, but not changing the mascot or logo from depicting an indigenous person, as some other sports teams have done recently.

With input from the local Knik Tribe, a working group redrew the Wasilla High warrior to be the Dena’ina Athabascan Chief Wasilla, who is the community’s namesake and lived in the area more than a hundred years ago, rather than a Lakota Sioux warrior.

Knik Tribal Council CEO Richard Porter says their hope is to educate people.

Wasilla High School’s warrior mascot, depicting Chief Wasilla, which was updated in 2021. Image: Wasilla High School
Alaska Airlines Unveils New Plane as Part of Commitment to Education, Racial Equity
Patrick Clarke, Travel Pulse
Alaska Airlines has unveiled a new aircraft to showcase its commitment to increasing racial diversity, cultivating an inclusive culture and working alongside community-based organizations to promote education and career development.
Alaska Airlines' 'Our Commitment' aircraft.
Photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines
Developed in partnership with UNCF—the nation’s largest minority education organization—"Our Commitment" will fly throughout the airline's network with the hopes of inspiring conversations, raising awareness and spreading the word about UNCF.

State of Art: Find out how Anchorage School District students honored healthcare workers
Ammon Swenson, Alaska Public Media
This week on State of Art we’re hearing from Eagle River High School art teacher Jacob Bera and Anchorage School District fine art coordinator Leah Maltbie.

They tell us about an art project meant to show appreciation for everything healthcare workers have done during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We hear about the project, the motivations behind it, and discuss the value of youth art.

A sample piece from “Portraits of Those who Serve,” an Anchorage School District art project honoring healthcare workers. Subject: Hannah, Registered Nurse. Artist: Tayla, Service HS, Charcoal.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
Federal Communications Commission
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. Find out if you're eligible!

Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School District is increasing its summer school options for students experiencing learning loss from the pandemic, substantially expanding its programs for elementary and middle school students and offering two sessions instead of one. “It’s going to be targeted interventions to really help with that catch-up growth,” said Mandy Clark, director of elementary education for the district. Elisa Vakalis, president of the Anchorage School Board, said all students have been affected by the pandemic, but the gap is even wider for economically disadvantaged students and those with disabilities.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media

The Anchorage School Board voted to implement anti-racist and education equity policies at their meeting late Tuesday night. The vote followed hours of public testimony overwhelmingly in favor of the policies.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

All Lake Otis Elementary School students have moved to online classes after the Anchorage School District confirmed “several cases of COVID-19 at the school involving multiple students and staff” last week, according to the district. This is the first instance of an entire school moving completely online for 10 days, said Anchorage School District spokeswoman Lisa Miller.
Isabelle Ross, KDLG Dillingham

Students and staff at the Bristol Bay Borough School have gone through a lot this year — from the trials of remote learning to attending class in fish processing facilities and churches. The school held its first classes in the building last week.
Amanda Bowman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Almost 80% of school district staff who answered a survey said they have taken the Covid-19 vaccine or plan to.
Amanda Bowman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

In a move that would save at least $400,000 in transportation costs, the Board of Education is looking at merging bus routes and adjusting school start times starting in August.
Amanda Bowman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Hunter Elementary School was abruptly evacuated due to roof structural concerns, according to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media

The regular school year is almost over but many of Alaska’s students will be participating in summer school. Hoonah City Schools will offer a traditional summer school to its 140 students for the first time in recent years, Superintendent Ralph Watkins said. In addition to helping students catch up, the district will offer courses like welding and formline drawing, as well as opportunities to move ahead including college coursework, Watkins said.
KINY, Juneau

The Juneau School Board acted on one matter at its meeting Tuesday and introduced another topic. The added action item involved the consideration of a proposal to allow non-district students who had previously been enrolled in the district when schools shut down in early 2020 but left to attend other home schools, to walk in the district graduation ceremonies in 2021.
Eric Stone, KRBD

It’s been a turbulent year for Ketchikan Superintendent Beth Lougee. Tribal leaders have been calling on the district to replace her in recent months. Last summer, as schools considered reopening amid the pandemic, Ketchikan’s school board overruled her reopening advice after several tense town halls and hours of testimony.
Eric Stone, KRBD Ketchikan

It’s been an odd school year across the country. Students and teachers in many places have spent the majority of the year learning from home. But not in Ketchikan. After intense public pressure over the summer, the school board decided to start the school year much like any other — albeit with masks, health screenings, temperature checks, extra classroom space and a number of other pandemic precautions. Students and teachers experienced the school year quite differently.
Sarah Lapidus, Kodiak Daily Mirror

One result of the coronavirus pandemic was that enrollment in the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s AKTeach homeschool program more than doubled. In 2019-2020, there were 105 students in the K-12 program. The 2020-2021 school year saw that number shoot up to 274 students.
Ashlyn O’Hara, Peninsula Clarion

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education will continue to offer health care coverage for board members after an effort to eliminate the coverage failed in committee. The effort to phase out health care benefits for board members has been spearheaded by board member Matthew Morse, who said Monday he has wanted to phase out the benefits for board members since he was elected to the board in 2018.
Sabine Poux, KDLL Soldotna

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor is publicly challenging the school district on its COVID-19 mitigation protocols. Mayor Charlie Pierce has long been an advocate of keeping mask-wearing a personal choice and opening the peninsula to business as usual amid coronavirus-induced closures.
Ashlyn O’Hara, Peninsula Clarion

After the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced that it would not be hosting proms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents decided to take matters into their own hands.
Parent-led proms are being planned in Kenai, Homer, Nikiski and Soldotna at least, with many organizers using social media to help coordinate efforts.
Johanna Eurich & Greg Kim, KYUK

An increase in COVID-19 numbers in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta this spring has led to some schools, which had recently reopened, to return to remote learning. Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said that initially there were only four schools which remained closed when schools reopened last month.
Gabby Hiestand Salgado, KYUK

COVID-19 made it a tough year for high school seniors. A year after the coronavirus pandemic reached the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, seniors are wondering what graduation will look like, and if they will even be able to walk across the stage in front of friends and family. On “Coffee at KYUK,” Patrick Williams from the Lower Kuskokwim School District brought seniors and KYUK interns together for a discussion of the school year, and what they would like to see for graduation ceremonies.
The Delta Discovery

Jayne Hanna of Nuniwarmiut School in Mekoryuk and Rylee Johnson of Bethel Regional High School are the recipients of this year’s Lower Kuskokwim Administrator’s Association scholarships. The LKAA gives away up to four $1,000 scholarships to current and former LKSD students who are pursuing a career in education.
Samantha Davenport & Loren Holmes, Anchorage Daily News

The Lower Yukon School District is giving students from Hooper Bay to Russian Mission the opportunity to live in Anchorage through the Kusilvak Career Academy.
Sage Smiley, KSTK

There are at least six active COVID-19 cases in Wrangell as officials warn of evidence of community spread. But the latest case is reportedly a close contact of one of the half-dozen infected people. Wrangell officials warned they couldn’t trace the origin of some of the recent cases. That suggests there are infected people in Wrangell who may be unwittingly spreading the coronavirus.
Sage Smiley, KSTK

Wrangell’s schools lost proportionally more students than any other district in the state last year — a blow to state support, which is a significant portion of the school’s funding. As the district approaches the May 1 deadline to submit their budget to the borough assembly, Wrangell teachers rallied to save positions by expanding their day-to-day responsibilities in the classroom.
Yukon Flats School District

The Board of Education for Yukon Flats School District is pleased to announce their unanimous choice for a new Superintendent, Deborah Lancaster, beginning July 1, 2021. The Board wishes to express their sincere thanks to everyone who participated and supported the search for a new superintendent during these extraordinary times. The Board also greatly appreciates the public involvement in the search process. AASB was contracted to conduct and facilitate the search.
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Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage high school hockey players will face weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing unless they’re fully vaccinated, the Anchorage School District announced. More than 60 students district-wide have either tested positive or been identified as close contacts to someone who has tested positive in recent weeks, “and most of it can be tied back to state comp hockey tournaments in the Valley,” said Kersten Johnson, the district’s senior director of secondary schools.
Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News

A day after the Anchorage School District announced weekly COVID-19 testing for high school hockey players, state hockey officials say they know of very few positive cases connected to state hockey tournaments last month. The head of the Alaska State Hockey Association's COVID-19 committee on Thursday said a total of three positive cases have been reported from multiple state tournaments held around the state in March.
Klas Stolpe, KINY Juneau

The state now knows what the Region V Southeast Conference has known this season, the Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.At Kalé Crimson Bears cheerleaders are champions. The JDHS cheer squad was chosen the 2021 March Madness Alaska High School State Champions on Tuesday. The competition was held virtually. JDHS also won this year’s region title in a virtual competition.
Klas Stolpe, KINY Juneau

Local high school sports teams are hosting and traveling to other school districts in which their opponents may not have the same school mask policy for their athletes. Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss said there is a mask policy and a mandate for the city and school district.
Klas Stolpe, KINY Juneau

The Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain High School softball teams are ready for action, but their season opening tournament in Sitka was cancelled Thursday due to weather. Neither team could fly out of Juneau, while Ketchikan had to overhead on to Anchorage and then back home.
Ketchikan Daily News

The Ketchikan High School wrestling team started its abbreviated spring season. Kayhi was one of six teams to compete in the Pilot Invitational, which was hosted in Juneau. In addition to the First City, teams from Thunder Mountain, Mt. Edgecumbe, Sitka, Wrangell and Petersburg high schools participated.
Eric Stone, KRBD

There will be no in-classroom learning for Ketchikan’s high schoolers on Wednesday after a cluster of COVID-19 cases related to a recent wrestling tournament was reported.
Ketchikan School District officials are asking parents and students to be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms after five people who attended last weekend’s high school wrestling event tested positive. In addition, an individual who attended Kayhi’s prom and a parent-sponsored after-party also tested positive for COVID-19.
Derek Clarkston, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Bryan Ellsworth’s calendar isn’t as packed as it once was.
Over the past three years, Ellsworth used his free time to become a better football coach — reading books, watching videos and attending clinics.
Michael Scott, Arctic Sounder

The teams from Western Alaska represented their schools with honor and distinction at the state 1A/2A state basketball championship held in the Mat-Su Valley last weekend.
The 2021 version of state March Madness had to be moved from the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage to the Mat-Su school district located 40 miles north of Anchorage. In the 1A Elite Eight were the Buckland Beluga boys and girls teams as well as the Shishmaref Northern Lights girls team and the Upriver Hunters boys team who earned their first-ever state tournament berth.
Anchorage Daily News

Alaska’s smallest schools put up some big numbers Thursday during the first day of action at the Class 1A state basketball tournament in the Valley. The girls played four games at Palmer Middle School and the boys played four games at Colony High, and together they fired up 987 shots from the field. The girls put up 481 shots (and made 131) and the boys put up 506 (and made 183). When it was all over, eight schools advanced to Friday’s semifinals games at Wasilla High.
AASB Workshops for You and Your Board
AASB now offers condensed, distance-delivered versions of our popular workshops and training sessions. Member districts receive a special rate for AASB sessions: $600 includes preparation, up to 3 hours of training, and a post-training report.
  • Board/Superintendent Relations
  • How to run Effective Meetings
  • Board Self Evaluations (with a resulting board improvement plan)
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Board’s Quasi-Judicial Role
  • Using Your District’s Data for Planning
  • Data for School Boards
  • School Budget & Finance
  • Family Engagement
  • Youth Engagement
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Policy
  • Facilitated Superintendent Evaluation
  • Advisory School Committees
  • Charter Schools
  • Communications with your board
  • Labor Relations
  • Ethics
  • School Climate: What does School Climate & Connectedness look like now?
  • Trauma-Engaged Schools
  • Specialized facilitation:
  • Focus on particular issues
  • Choice of program
  • Scheduling to meet the needs of your board members and administrators
  • Team building
We can also provide customized solutions based on your needs. 
Please reach out to us.

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Email Timi Tullis or call 907-463-1660
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