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 2022
  • 2022 AASB Annual Conference, Save the Date: Nov 3-6
  • 2022 STEPS AK Annual Gathering, May 3-4
  • 2022 Alaska Principals of the Year
  • First-term Board Member Webinar Series
  • Community Connections - First 360-degree totem pole
  • Allen Clendaniel - A Free AND Ordered Space
  • Ann Macfarlane - Jurassic Parliament
  • Ask AASB
  • Bulletin Board
  • Federal, State, & District News
The Final Push!
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

We are heading into the final furlong as we race to finish the legislative session. This legislative session has been the busiest on record for bills that are either directly focused on education or have some impact on education. A total of 183 bills were introduced that affect education. As we come into the home stretch, a few bills have made it through most of the gauntlet of committee work and will need the support of school boards, parents, and community members to become law. The bills I will be highlighting below may have some of the greatest impacts on Alaska Public Education we have seen in many, many years.

While Norm and I provide a significant amount of input and testimony to the legislature, your voice, representing school boards across the state, is unique because you represent the same constituents the legislators do. School board members can have influence with their own communities and can be an influential force in getting them to participate in advocacy.

I would like to present the “lay of the land” as Norm and I currently see the priority education bills in play.

Alaskans Turn Out for NSBA Annual Conference
Alaska board members from Juneau, North Slope, Northwest Arctic Borough, and Yupiit school districts, along with AASB staff, were in attendance at the NSBA 2022 Annual Conference & Exposition in San Diego, California, April 2-4, 2022.
Community Partnership through Dialogues  
Claudia Plesa, Alaska ICE Community Engagement Educator and Coordinator

At the March Fly-In, Lisa Worl and I were lucky enough to co-host a workshop on community engagement and dialogues. This was an opportunity for school board members to come together and discuss why community engagement matters, and what role community dialogues can play in deepening community partnerships and how districts are using dialogues to help develop a stronger school community. 

We started our discussion by asking a simple question: “What helped you succeed in school?”

Education advocacy organization earns major grant
Michael S. Lockett, Juneau Empire

The Association of Alaska School Boards, an advocacy organization for providing quality public education across the state, was awarded $100,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York the foundation announced.

The grants focused on family engagement, one of the most important factors in educational outcomes, said Lisa X’unyéil Worl, a family engagement specialist at AASB, who helped put together the proposal.

“Family involvement is a more accurate predictor of student achievement than family income,” Worl said in a phone interview. “They perform better. Their attendance increases. Graduation rates increase when families see each other as equal partners in student success.”

The grant will allow for a one-year program as AASB works with three separate school districts to develop tools to help instruct teachers in how to more effectively make parents part of their child’s education, Worl said.

November 3-6, 2022, Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage
AASB's 2022 Annual Conference theme is
"Ensuring Opportunities for All Students”

AASB's 2022 Annual Conference is coming together! This year’s event will feature four days of engaging sessions on a range of timely topics. More details coming soon!


DISTRICT SHARING: A key component of the conference is the district sharing of strategies, best practices and lessons learned. There are multiple ways to share! Please reach out to Jenni Lefing if your district would like to share what their district is doing to "Ensure Opportunities for All Students.”

YOUTH PERFORMERS: One of the best parts of the conference is showcasing the incredible talents of Alaska’s youth. We're seeking youth performers for this year’s event. It's a great opportunity for districts to share the amazing talents of their students with districts across the state. If you have a student, or student group that would be interested in performing, please reach out to Jenni Lefing.
2022 STEPS AK Annual Gathering

May 3-4
Centennial Hall, Juneau

The annual STEPS AK gathering is an opportunity to learn from and inspire each other.

Our STEPS partners are doing amazing work in their communities to support students and families in meaningful ways. We appreciate your willingness to share, align, and move forward our work together. AASB is looking forward to hosting this two-day in person meeting.

  • AASB can reimburse for airfare, ground transportation (taxi/Uber), and lodging for core team members. Please call 907-463-1660 with reimbursement questions.
  • Discounted room rates at the Ramada are available. To receive the discount rate, rooms must be reserved before the cutoff date of April 22, 2022.
More information and resources are available on the STEPS Resources page.

PLEASE NOTE: We care deeply about the health and safety of our communities. We will be taking precautions to protect our participants against Covid-19 by requiring our participants to wear masks and follow safety protocols.
Each year the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) sponsors regional and statewide Principal of The Year recognition awards to honor the educational leaders who play such a pivotal role in student success. Here are the 2022 winners. For more information visit the AASSP website.
Mary Fulp 
Colony Middle School
David Fair
White Mountain School
Bering Strait
Jeni Mason
Cantwell and
Denali PEAK schools
Denali Borough
Vaughn Dosko
Kenai Middle School
Kenai Peninsula Borough
Sven Gustafson
West High School
Paula Casperson
Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé
Sarah Gillam
West Valley High School
Fairbanks North Star Borough
Nate Davis
Tanalian School
Lake & Peninsula
Mary Fulp 
Colony Middle School

2022 AASB First-term Board Member Webinar Series

Miss a Session?
Slides, video recordings, and other resources for completed webinars in the 2022 First-term Board Members series are available at the links below.
Apr 5 - Holding Your Meeting Remotely Slides | Video
Mar 29 - Working with your Community Slides | Video
Mar 15 - Working with your Board Slides | Video
Mar 8 - Board Policy: Development and Governance Slides | Video
Mar 1 - The Board and the Budget Slides | Video
Feb 22 - School Finance with an Expert! Slides | Video
Feb 8 - The Superintendent – Building a Relationship Slides | Video
Feb 1 - Conducting Effective Meetings & Roberts Rules of Order Basics Slides | Video
Jan 25 - School Law Basics Video
Jan 18 - Welcome to the Board and AASB Board Standard Slides | Video

Please Note: Member password is required to access videos. Contact Tiffany Jackson.
Three-Sided Pole Speaks to Community, Collaboration and Kinship
Pictured left to right: Joe Young, Andrea Cook, TJ Young, David R. Boxley and Greg Frisby. Photo: Connor Meyer
Haida carver TJ Young (Sgwaayaans) is hard at work creating the first 360-degree totem pole to be raised in Alaska. The three-sided pole represents three groups of Indigenous Southeast Alaska people Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. Young is carving the pole with assistance from his brother, Joe Young and guest carvers David R. Boxley, who is Tsimshian, and Rob Mills, who is Tlingit. He also worked with apprentices Greg Frisby and Andrea Cook, who are both Haida. After nearly eight months of carving, the project is set to be complete by late April. The pole will stand guard over Heritage Square at the center of the new Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus in downtown Juneau.

AASB STEPS Partnership Coordinator Lisa X’unyéil Worl visits with master carver TJ Young during a recent totem dedication event. Photo: Connor Meyer.
A Free AND Ordered Space: Censure of School Board Members.
Part 9 of the series
Allen Clendaniel of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

A frustrated School Board member publicly and ruthlessly criticizes the rest of the Board. In meetings, he angrily calls the decisions of the Board stupid and irresponsible. On Facebook, he writes scathing posts accusing the rest of the Board of wasting money, conflicts of interest and violations of the Open Meetings Act. He even creates his own website attacking his fellow Board members. 

The rest of the Board finally gets fed up. At a public meeting, the Board passes a motion censuring the dissident Board member. Can the Board legally censure an individual member? Or would that violate the dissident Board member’s right to free speech?   

Minor mistakes in Robert’s Rules
don’t invalidate action
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian

A recent news report described how a school board, realizing that no one had seconded the motion they approved, went back at the next meeting and voted on it again. This was a waste of time.

The purpose of “seconding the motion” is to be sure that at least two people on a board want to discuss the proposed action. Obviously if a board has passed a motion, at least two people wanted to discuss it, and did. A second is not a seal of approval or an “imprimatur” that must happen before action on a given proposal proceeds. It is just a way of confirming enough interest for discussion.

Q: Does the chair have the same rights as other board members? Can they make, second, and vote on motions?

A: YES, the board chair has the EXACT same rights as any other board member. AASB model policy BB9121 states: The board president/chair shall have  the same right as any member of the School Board, including the right to move, second, discuss and vote on all questions before the School Board.

The board president is elected in the exact same way other board members are elected and they do not give up any rights simply because they become president. In addition, Roberts Rules also allows the chair to have the same rights as other members for boards with less than 12 members (though it's always important to remember, the board bylaws always takes precedence over Robert’s Rules). 
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at Ask AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
Follow your child's lead when exploring together.
It's about the journey not always the destination.
Slow down and see nature through your child's eyes.

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

You are invited to the AlaskaCAN! Spring Convening!
WHEN: May 2, 2022 | 3:00 – 5:00 PM AKST
TOPIC: Building Cultural Identity as a Postsecondary Strength
Register in advance for this Convening:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email
containing information about joining the Convening.
AlaskaCAN! Convenings are free to attend to AlaskaCAN Members.

Not an AlaskaCAN Member yet? You can easily become one at no cost 
Professional Boundaries for Educators Training
Developed for all school staff, this training describes professional boundaries, boundary invasions, and how preventing boundary invasions can prevent grooming and sexual abuse. We recommend all school staff receive this training upon hire and annually thereafter.

Four 90-minute training opportunities are available in May. Click on a link below to register for a webinar at a date and time that works for you.

Webinar Schedule

To set up a training specifically for your school district,
contact Carleen Mitchell at cmitchell@akpei.com or 907-523-9430.
You’re Invited to a Series of 
hosted by Alaska’s Early Childhood Governance Task Force
WHO: The Alaska Early Childhood Governance Task Force (Task Force) was formed to create an improved, sustainable, and accountable governance model with decision-making authority to coordinate Alaska’s diverse early childhood programs and services. For more information about the task force, click here.

WHAT: Alaska's Early Childhood Governance Task Force is holding a series of roundtable discussions to collect input from participants working in, or involved with, early childhood programs and services.

WHY: The Task Force is seeking input on a draft model for a new and improved structure for governing and coordinating early childhood programs and services in Alaska.

HOW: Please register for any meeting you wish to attend below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
WHO SHOULD ATTENDIndividuals working in the ECE sector and representing tribal programs statewide. 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Individuals working in the ECE sector and representing tribal programs statewide. 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Tribal health organizations, health programs, child protection, early intervention. 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Civic, business, tribal, and funding entities interested in business & workforce discussions.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: All audiences are invited to participate in this final session.
Young people and families looking for opportunities in the outdoors can access the following organizations for day camps, sleep away camps, and multi-day adventure camps. National Geographic is also providing scholarships to even the playing field for youth expeditions. Get outside and play!
Camp Options

Alaska Geographic - 2022 Teen Expeditions (ages 13-18) Scholarship Opportunities!
Adventure Academy Burchell High School (grades 9-12)
ADN list of Summer Camps Other camps to consider.
For more information contact:
Jenny Baker, Adolescent Health Project Coordinator
State of Alaska, Division of Public Health
Phone: 907-269-4517
  • School Health ECHO Webinars

The School Health ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for professionals in the education setting (administrators, school-based nurses, etc.) to interface with a team of medical and education experts in Alaska. This series is focused on health considerations, answering questions related to Educational & School settings, and establishing a safe school environment during this critical time.

Weekly sessions will continue to include Covid-19 updates, but have now expanded to include other topics impacting school health, including mental health, chronic illness, violence prevention, substance misuse, and environmental health.

Upcoming Webinar Dates

  • May 2, 2022 03:00 PM
  • May 9, 2022 03:00 PM
  • May 16, 2022 03:00 PM
  • May 23, 2022 03:00 PM
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.
House passes budget championing education
The Cordova Times

Alaska’s House of Representatives has passed an operating budget investing heavily in the state’s education system, plus funds for essential services and to help residents recover from inflation and high energy prices.

House Bill 281, which passed on a vote of 25-14, includes a $1,300 energy relief check in addition to the $1,250 Permanent Fund Dividend. The legislation now goes to the Alaska Senate, which has already been working on its own version of the state budget.
Rep. Louise Stutes and Sen. Gary Stevens listen to public comments during a town hall in Cordova. Photo: Emily Mesner/Cordova Times
“Alaskans can be sure that this budget helps them now, while investing in our future,” Speaker Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, said. “The Alaska Marine Highway System is fully funded, which includes $82 million in federal money that will free up state funding towards the creation of a marine highway endowment. $57 million is being added to our K-12 system, while education is being forward funded to give our schools certainty as they create their budgets next year. We’re putting over $2 billion into our savings, while paying out a $1,300 energy relief check on top of the Permanent Fund Dividend.”

Proposed big budget boost for Alaska schools could be derailed without conservative-driven reading reforms
Nathaniel Herz, Anchorage Daily News

Boosters of the Alaska Legislature’s biggest education overhaul in a decade are pushing to get the bill passed into law in their final weeks in Juneau, and warn that inaction could jeopardize a long-sought boost to classroom spending.

The wide-ranging measure, a version of which has passed the state Senate, is a sort of grand bargain, with elements aimed at satisfying both progressive and conservative reformers.
A second grade classroom at Klatt Elementary School in Anchorage. Photo: Emily Mesner/ADN
It would boost inconsistent state spending on preschool, long a priority of Democratic lawmakers, by tens of millions of dollars a year for at least a decade. Conservatives would get more virtual courses and new tools aimed at helping young students struggling with reading.

But both Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the bill’s original sponsor, Anchorage Democratic Sen. Tom Begich, suggest that failure to adopt policies like those included in the legislation could risk a veto of increased per-student schools spending that lawmakers are considering separately.

Senate picks back up bill to extend apprenticeships to high school students
Elizabeth Earl, Alaska Journal of Commerce

A way expand opportunities for high school students to go into apprenticeships is getting renewed attention in the Legislature.

House Bill 132, sponsored by Rep. Zack Fields, D-Anchorage, would require the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to work with public school districts to develop programs to allow students to complete high school credits and apprenticeships at the same time. Right now, most public school districts offer career and technical education classes such as construction and welding, but this would expand that into apprenticeships in real work environments.

Alaska House passes bill to protect the state’s college scholarship fund
Sean Maguire, KTUU Anchorage

The Alaska House of Representatives passed a bill with a 23-9 vote on Thursday that would protect the state’s college scholarship fund. The $410 million Higher Education Investment Fund has been used to pay college scholarships for more than 5,000 Alaska students each year. It was drained last year due to a failed procedural vote by the Legislature needed to keep it full.

Anchorage Superior Court Judge Adolf Zeman sided with Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration in February, saying its legal interpretation was valid to drain the fund, but that ruling has been appealed. Rep. Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, introduced a bill that would effectively remove the scholarship fund from the state treasury so that it couldn’t be emptied again by another failed procedural vote. He said that would provide certainty for thousands of Alaska college students.

Paying for college is top of mind as Alaska high school seniors prepare for graduation
Patrick Enslow, KTUU Anchorage

Graduating debt-free is the gold standard for any student and these days, there are numerous choices for Alaskan students to pay for school. For parents like Michelle Rizk, saving money for college was a priority, and she began saving when her two sons were 3 and 5 years old.
Photo: KTUU Anchorage
“I knew that the cost of college is expensive and I didn’t want it to be a barrier for my kids to be able to go to school,” Rizk said. Rizk worked for the University of Alaska in Fairbanks and began by putting $50 into an Alaska 529 plan, and over time she put more money in along with contributions from family members.

Tribal Compacting: Alaska Senate authorizes work on pilot project for schools led by tribes
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK Bethel

The Alaska Senate passed its version of a bill that would clear the way for the state and tribes to begin work on education compacting. In tribal education compacting, tribes can tailor their students’ education to their own needs and hopefully address low rates of graduation and attendance in Alaska Native students. The Senate’s bill has been updated to give tribes more time to plan out pilot projects and will now head to the House.
Joel Isaak, Tribal Liaison for the Alaska Dept. of Education and Early Development, testifying on Senate Bill 34 in the Senate Education Committee. Photo: Olivia Ebertz/KYUK)
Senate Bill 34 was originally written to authorize the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to allow a series of pilot project schools. Under this version, the schools would have opened as soon as the fall of 2023. The Senate Education Committee substituted it with another bill that gives the state education department and tribes more time to flesh out what the pilot projects will look like.

The bill also establishes a firm deadline for tribes to sign up to be a part of the pilot program. Once the schools and tribes have plans in place, the education department will have to present its final plans to the next Legislature.

Broadband bill passes Alaska House committee
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK - Bethel

A bill that would pave the way for improved and equitable high-speed internet in rural Alaska passed out of its final House committee. Next, the bill will head to the House floor for a vote. Its Senate counterpart is still in committee.

Earlier this year, the U.S. passed a federal infrastructure bill that set aside $65 billion for broadband projects in the U.S. It prioritizes unserved and underserved communities. This state bill sets up systems that would make Alaska eligible for that funding.
An engineer installs an antenna receiver on October 19, 2021 in a home in Akiak, Alaska. Photo: Katie Basile/KYUK
The representative who wrote the bill, Bryce Edgmon, said that Alaska stands to gain at least $1 billion to $2 billion in federal funding for broadband infrastructure. He said that when you account for broadband dollars headed to tribes, that actual amount will likely be much higher.

As the pandemic wears on, the kids are not OK - and the support they need is hard to find in Alaska
Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News

Alaska’s teens are struggling — and the help they need isn’t always easy to find.

The problems are wide-ranging. They include limited options for Alaskans seeking treatment for eating disorders, fewer beds for psychiatric care and long waitlists for counselors and therapists, especially for those specializing in the treatment of young people.
The sun sets in Anchorage and falls behind the Tordrillo Mountains on March 29. Photo: Emily Mesner / ADN
Many of these challenges existed long before the pandemic: Data from 2019, the last year the state’s annual Youth Behavior Risk Survey was conducted, showed that out of 1,875 respondents in 39 schools, about a quarter had seriously considered suicide and 19% had attempted suicide. Now, the emotional strain of a pandemic that’s led to more isolation and remote learning is adding a new layer of pressure on Alaska’s youths.

Twenty Schools Earn Designation of Alaska Purple Star School
State of Alaska DEED

20 Alaskan schools earned the designation of Alaska Purple Star School for their support of military-connected students and families during a ceremony at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks.

To be recognized as a Purple Star School, schools must maintain a dedicated page on its website with resources for military families, have an Active Youth Sponsorship Club (Welcoming Committee) and have a Military Family Point of Contact. In addition to these three requirements, schools must conduct at least one additional activity that demonstrates support of military children and families. This school year, more than 9,400 Alaskan students have a parent who is Active Duty.

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.
In Memorium: Patricia Henriette Ohmer Norheim, October 4, 1928 - March 7, 2022
Petersburg Pilot

Patti was was born in Vancouver, B.C. and came to Petersburg in December with her parents Loyla and Earl Ohmer. She married Arvid Ernst Norheim in 1950 and they had three children, Susan, Sally and Kraig.
A few years later Patti and Arvid divorced and she found herself a single mother of three. She went to work juggling part time jobs until landing a full time job as teletype and marine radio operator at Alaska Communications System, where she worked for 10 years.

Getting the first swimming pool built in Petersburg prompted Patti to run for school board in 1970. She continued to serve for 27 years. The new High school and auditorium were big projects she lobbied for. She formed many special friendships during those years with parties at her house and times at the Teacher's cabin. Governor Hickel appointed her to the state Board of Education. For those four years she traveled to all corners of Alaska.

Former AASB Associate Executive Director Sharon Young remembers Patti's longstanding commitment to public education. "Patti was on the Petersburg school board from 1970-1997! She also served on the State Board with June Nelson. What a couple of characters!!"

Petersburg School District Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter described Patti's dedication to the local community and schools: "She was such an amazing woman! ❤️ She was off the board when I first moved here in early 2001, but she would often stop by the school or talk to me around town, and was very interested in what was going on at the schools, and always supportive out in the community."

A Memorial Service was was held on April 7 at the Petersburg Lutheran Church.

Chugach Board of Education Announces Selection of Ty Mase as New Chief School Administrator
Chugach School District

The Board of Education for the Chugach School District is pleased to announce their choice for a new Chief School Administrator, Ty Mase, beginning on July 1, 2022. The Board wishes to express their sincere thanks to everyone who participated and supported the Superintendent search process.
Mr. Mase was the 2021 Alaska State Superintendent of the Year having served as Superintendent of Lake and Peninsula School District from 2008-2021. Prior to that he was Curriculum Director at Lake and Peninsula School District; Program Director at Chugach School District; and Teacher/Athletic Director at Bristol Bay Borough School District. Mase holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Mansfield University,
Master of Education in Informational Technology from Mansfield University, and Alaska Administrative Credentials from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“After 15 wonderful years working with the Lake and Peninsula School District, the plan was to retire. However, when the Chugach School District position opened up, these plans quickly changed," said Mase. "Chugach and their Standards Based System hold a special place in my heart and the opportunity to once again work with CSD was appealing. I am very excited to return and work with the students, staff, communities and the board to accomplish great things for CSD students,” he said.

The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) contracted to conduct and facilitate the search for the Superintendent.
Chatham School Board selects Ralph Watkins as next superintendent
Corinne Smith, KHNS Haines

The rural Southeast Alaska school district that serves students in Klukwan, Angoon, Gustavus and Tenakee Springs has named a new top administrator.

Ralph Watkins is the principal of the Meade River School in Atqasuk in the North Slope School District. He’s served in teaching, principal and superintendent roles in Alaska schools for the past eight years – including in the Bering Strait, Valdez, and Hoonah School Districts. Prior to Alaska, Watkins taught in schools in Oregon, Wyoming and Nevada, and coached gymnastics in Southern California for 17 years. But he says he’s long considered Southeast Alaska home.

“I spent five years in Hoonah, and so I have a real connection with Chatham (School District) as Angoon is Hoonah’s sister community,” he said. “And it’s a Tlingit community. And that’s my adopted community. And I just am really, I feel blessed to be going back home.”

The Chatham school district currently serves 160 students across schools in Klukwan, Angoon, Gustavus, and an independent learning center in Tenakee Springs.

Jharrett Bryantt named new Anchorage School District superintendent
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media

An executive officer from the largest school district in Texas will serve as the new Anchorage School District superintendent. The Anchorage School Board announced it has selected Jharrett Bryantt to take over for superintendent Deena Bishop on July 1.

Bryantt, 32, currently leads the office of talent at the Houston Independent School District. He has also worked as an assistant superintendent and college advisor in that district. He was a geometry teacher for two years in Houston’s YES Prep public charter school system. The Anchorage School District picked him over two other finalists: Sitka School District superintendent Frank Hauser and Woodland Park School District superintendent Mathew Neal from Colorado.

“I’m humbled, excited, and I’m ready to lead this district toward a bright new chapter,” Bryantt said during an online news conference Thursday. “But I can’t do this alone. I can’t wait to get to Anchorage and get to personally know our families, our students, our staff and our community members and community leaders.”

Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage high school seniors will celebrate graduation at the Alaska Airlines Center this year while Sullivan Arena remains in use as a mass homeless shelter. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, seniors graduated at Sullivan Arena, a tradition that went back decades. The arena has been used as a mass care homeless shelter since 2020, although city officials and others are working on a plan to transition the Sullivan away from that use this summer. The switch means students will be limited to six tickets per graduating senior.
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media

Students at King Tech High School in Anchorage wear professional clothing to class every Wednesday. The routine is meant to get them used to wearing the blazers and button-ups they’ll need during job interviews and working at an office. “We often see students borrowing from their moms, which is great — moms are very fashionable,” said entrepreneurship teacher Stacy Miller. “But oftentimes for students, it doesn’t fit right so it’s not comfortable. They don’t feel like it’s their style, so they don’t really get to own it.” That’s where her class’s new business comes in: a clothing store called Pro Fit.
Patrick Enslow, KTUU Anchorage

Student attendance statistics have dropped in the Anchorage School District, according to Superintendent Deena Bishop at the latest Anchorage School Board meeting. Bishop said COVID-19 protocols contributed to that dip in numbers as both students and teachers were absent from the classroom. “By September, if you recall, we had over 800 absences. We weren’t even in school for a month, and it was killing us because of close contacts,” Bishop explained to the board. “... So some of the two major actions I took this year were specifically around changing some of the attendance and getting kids and staff back in school.” The school district had its lowest attendance rate in the last five years with an 88.6% clip this school year, the first time its been under 90% since at least the 2016-17 school year. Measured by attendance rate by grade level, high school seniors saw the biggest drop with a 4.7% decrease from last year, while charter schools saw the biggest dip for school type at 4.9%.
Zachariah Hughes & Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News

A large bond to overhaul and improve a number of Anchorage school buildings has failed, having been voted down by a slim majority of voters in the municipal election.
Without the roughly $111 million bond package, a number of spending priorities for the district are on hold as education supporters figure out what’s next. The bond’s backers caution that its failure merely delays the inevitable, as the city’s infrastructure ages and state reimbursements for school bond debt remain halted. “None of the things we feel we need to do go away,” said Anchorage School Board member Andy Holleman. “We will have to delay a lot of them and come back to voters next year with perhaps a reduced package or something a little more succinct.”
Corinne Smith, KHNS - Haines

The future of the Klukwan school has been uncertain since last fall, when enrollment dropped below the threshold for state funding. But now, administrators with the regional Chatham School District say the school will stay open next year. Klukwan residents and the school community had a challenging year. In the fall of 2021, enrollment dropped below 10 students, the threshold for state funding, risking school closure. A head teacher backed out at the start of the year, so a series of substitutes filled in until the school hired a full time teacher this spring. The school bus was totaled after hitting a moose, so volunteers picked up students in the village van. Then the Chatham superintendent, Bruce Houck, died unexpectedly in December.
Avery Lill,. KDLG Dillingham

Money is tight at the City of Dillingham, but the council listened to school staff and parents who asked it not to reduce education funding this year. For nearly a decade, the city has provided the school district with $1.3 million dollars a year. The school asked for the same amount for the upcoming school year. However, earlier in the week, the Dillingham City Council posted that it would consider allocating just over $1 million to the school district. That’s a reduction of about $220,000 from recent years. Council members said they received a flurry of phone calls from parents and school staff who were concerned that the reduction in funding would be catastrophic for the school district.
Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A proposed amendment to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’s 40-year-old controversial issues policy was voted down unanimously at Tuesday’s board of education discussion. The policy update would allow teachers and students “to address the controversial topics that come up” in line with the district’s mission statement, said Chane Beam, executive director of teaching and learning.
Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has started a district wide accreditation process. The accreditation is being conducted by the nonprofit group Cognia, an organization which also accredits Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
Kris Capps, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

When small schools and school districts join forces, good things happen. Once again the combined choirs and bands from the Denali Borough School District (DBSD) and Nenana City School competed for Top Choir and Top Band at the Aurora Music Festival in Cordova earlier this month.
Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire

The Juneau School District is preparing to shift back to the traditional National School Lunch Program starting July 1, meaning 70% or more of local students will likely be required to pay full price for lunches during the coming school year, Adrianne Schwartz, the district’s food service supervisor, stated in an email and subsequent telephone interview Thursday. But she stated she hopes to continue a universal free breakfast program that existed before the pandemic funded with assistance from community organizations and individuals.
City and Borough of Juneau

Masks are optional for most individuals while indoors in Juneau School District facilities and on school buses. The Board of Education met in a Special Meeting to discuss the JSD Mask Policy. Board members reviewed the current policy, took public input, and made revisions. The following Mask Policy was unanimously approved:

Masks, or similar facial coverings designed to mitigate COVID-19 transmission and are well-fitted covering the mouth and nose, are optional for all persons indoors in Juneau School District facilities. The Superintendent has the authority to require face masks in certain situations, including but not limited to:
  • People in contact with another person identified as “high risk” for severe disease shall wear a mask when indoors with that/those individual(s).
  • People with exposure to someone with COVID-19 (i.e., close contacts) shall wear a mask per current CDC guidelines applicable for K-12 settings.

If masking is required in school settings, it will generally be implemented from individual close contacts to programs, to classrooms, to building-level based on circumstances.
KINY News, Juneau

The Juneau Board of Education will consider a policy protecting the use of native regalia during graduation. It was authored by School Board member Martin Stepetin, who said he was spurred to introduce the policy after introducing a resolution about the matter while attending a conference of the Association of Alaska School Boards. Also introduced in first reading will be the renaming of Riverbend Elementry after the school was gifted the Tlingit A’akw name Kax̱digoowu Héen. The name translates to “Going Back to Clear Water.”
Sabine Poux, KDLL

Vaughn Dosko has been at the helm of Kenai Middle for 11 years. Before that, he was the school's assistant principal, earning him an award from the Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals for his work in that role. He's from Saskatchewan, Canada and first came to the U.S. for college, earning degrees in North Dakota and Idaho and landing his first teaching job there. Then in 2000, a principal gig took him to the village of Tuluksak, near Bethel. He stayed for six years — longer than any administrator had before.
Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska

Ketchikan’s interim superintendent Melissa Johnson was recently passed over for the long-term position. But the school board is looking to keep her on in the newly-created position of assistant superintendent at her current salary.
A longtime Ketchikan educator, Johnson has led the district on a temporary basis for nearly a year following the abrupt departure of Ketchikan’s last full-time superintendent.
Sam Stockbridge, Ketchikan Daily News

Petersburg High School Principal Rick Dormer will be the next principal of Ketchikan High School, concluding the district's search for a successor to Kayhi Principal Jason House. Dormer spent a day in a gauntlet of interviews and discussions with students, staff and the public, along with the two other finalist candidates for the position. About 50 staff members got a chance to meet the candidates during the interviews, as did about 150 students, according to Interim Superintendent Melissa Johnson.
Sam Stockbridge, Ketchikan Daily News

The Ketchikan School Board unanimously approved all items on its agenda during its meeting on Wednesday night, including the approval of $57,035 for playground equipment to replace the equipment at the older of Houghtaling Elementary School’s two playgrounds, nicknamed “Old Rusty.”
Dylan Simard, KMXT Kodiak

Every parent wants their children to succeed in school, but not every parent is in the same position. Getting support from a school district can be a daunting task; the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s new Family Resource Center is hoping to make it a bit easier. Superintendent Larry LeDoux says that the goal is to make the school system more accessible to parents who may only speak Spanish or Tagalog with fluency, in the interest of making it more accessible to all students. “We thought we had a good system. But I think it’s sort of in our head, we thought we had a good system that met the needs. But I think you really have to look at these things from your heart. Look at the fear when you don’t speak the language or the education system that you come from, it’s very different,” LeDoux said.
Alex Appel, Kodiak Daily Mirror

The Kodiak Island Borough School District has reached the highest student enrollment in the Native Education Program in years, according to Sabrina Sutton, who is a teacher dedicated to facilitating the resources available in that program. As of Wednesday, 445 students in the district were enrolled in the program. The Native Education Program was created through grants from the Indian Education Act and is designed to connect Indigenous students to resources that can help them excel academically and to promote education about Alutiiq culture, according to KIBSD Director of Federal Programs Damon Hargraves.
Alex Appel, Kodiak Daily Mirror

The Kodiak Island Borough School District has scaled down its masking and contact-tracing COVID protocols. Visitors will be allowed to enter school district buildings without wearing masks, Superintendent Larry LeDoux said. The district also stopped contact-tracing for COVID cases in schools and changed its requirements for close contacts.
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK Bethel

A public safety camp in Bethel.gave students hands-on training in a range of public safety careers. They learned real-life skills that camp directors hope they can carry with them for a long time. 13 high school students came from schools across the Lower Kuskokwim School District: Tuntutuliak, Newtok, Atmautluak, Mertarvik, Nunapitchuk and Tununak. They attended a week-long camp put on by the school district and the Alaska State Troopers with a focus on public safety.
Miriam Trujillo, KNOM Nome

The Nome Elementary School E.L.A. Curriculum Committee presented on a potential new elementary school reading program, titled ‘Bookworms’, for the board to review. This program, according to the committee, exposes children to full literary and informative texts, rather than just excerpts, and gives students a chance to write responses to what they have read. The point of the program, is to turn students into kids who love reading and actually want to read. The program really works, according to committee member and fourth grade teacher, Krista Marvin, who has been piloting one of the lessons with her class.
Alena Naiden, The Arctic Sounder

Qutan Lambert loved coming to Nikaitchuat Ilisagviat Tribal School as a child, especially when it was circle time. "My first memories were made here," Lambert said. "We got to do so many things culturally. ... We'd always have Elders come in and show and tell and tell stories." Years later, Lambert's daughter comes to the same language immersion school in Kotzebue, learning to speak Inupiaq as well as cut caribou meat, pickle herring eggs and train dogs for mushing. This is part of what all students at Nikaitchuat do every day: The school offers language classes and traditional activities, taught in accordance with the subsistence cycles of the local Inupiaq culture.
Petersburg Pilot

The state budget plan adopted by the House earlier this month includes an additional $263,000 in one-time funding for the Petersburg School District, an almost 5% boost from a state aid formula that has not increased since 2017. The one-time appropriation for a total of $57 million may be the political compromise to help Alaska's 54 school districts this next year as lawmakers continue to debate a change to the formula in state statute.
Angela Denning, KFSK Petersburg

The school board will be discussing a new board policy and updating language for others. They’ll consider a policy allowing video surveillance of public areas on campus as a way to deter criminal activity and student misconduct such as theft, break-ins, and bullying. The Alaska Gateway School District in Tok has adopted a similar policy.
Katherine Rose, KCAW Sitka

The Assembly has signaled support for funding the Sitka School District’s budget to the cap, or the maximum allowable by state law. The group voted to formally notify the school board of its funding allocation – over $8.8 million. That number includes around $7.9 million in instructional funding, and nearly $1 million in non-instructional funding such as $150,000 for maintenance of school buildings, $122,000 for the Blatchley swimming pool, and up to $60,000 to cover utilities costs for the Performing Arts Center. It also includes up to $500,000 in Secure Rural Schools funds, if the funds are reauthorized. That’s money the city gets from the federal government to pay for schools and road maintenance.
Robert Woolsey, KCAW Sitka

The Sitka School District has been unable to reach a new contract agreement with the union representing its teachers.
Teachers were hopeful that the bargaining impasse could be resolved, as it’s only the second time in 25 years that negotiations have failed. The details of the negotiations between the SEA and the Sitka School District are not public. However, it was clear from testimony before the school board on April 20 that the issue is salaries.
KINY Juneau

Bering Strait Cultural Program Coordinator Mary Suzzuk Huntington has been selected by the Alaska Department of Education to take up the role of Director of Mt. Edgecumbe. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development made the announcement Tuesday.
Huntington will serve as the Director/Superintendent of Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka beginning on June 1st.
Melinda Munson, The Skagway News

The school board approved splitting the responsibilities and pay of the activities director three ways between Superintendent Josh Coughran, Business Manager Cindy O’Daniel and Administrative Assistant Kaylie Smith for the second time. Each activities co-director will receive $15,000. The school will save the cost of the benefits a full-time employee would have received.
Avery Lill, KDLG News

New Stuyahok's longtime principal, Robin Jones, is leaving the region at the end of the school year. She has accepted an elementary school principal position in Wasilla. In her nine years as principal of Chief Ivan Blunka School, Jones said that she worked hard to advocate for students in rural Alaska. In particular, she's passionate about reducing high teacher turnover rates by ensuring new teachers connect to their communities.
Maggie Nelson KUCB

While Alaska's lawmakers consider increasing public school funding, the Unalaska City School District prepares for a significant decrease in revenue due to a drop in enrollment.
And with that, the district is looking to the city for about
$5 million to cover its budget for fiscal year 2023. At a recent City Council meeting, Superintendent Robbie Swint Jr. presented the Unalaska City School District's proposed budget, which is based on an estimated enrollment of 345 students. Last year, there were about 350 kids attending school on the island. That was down from 2019 when the district saw a record high enrollment of more than 420 students.
Maggie Nelson KUCB

In a unanimous vote, City Council members granted the Unalaska School District its full funding request of roughly $5 million for fiscal year 2023 — a 6.5% increase from last year. While Councilman Thom Bell ultimately voted in favor, he said he originally hoped for just a 3% increase. He said it sends a bad message to city employees when the city reduces internal spending, but grants full funding to other organizations who aren’t making similar cuts.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB Unalaska

The Unalaska school board is considering switching up the district's calendar and is looking for input from the community. At a recent meeting, board members discussed three different options for future school year schedules, one of which was drafted by member Kerry Mahoney. It pushes the entire school year back and puts the first day of school on Sept. 5, about two to three weeks later than usual. "This (calendar) is proposed around what I think is great for family life," Mahoney said at the meeting. Having the entire month of August off allows families that spend their vacation on the island to have more time enjoying the short Aleutian summers, she said.
Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel

In a two-page letter to the community, Schools Superintendent Bill Burr on Friday cautioned that ongoing staffing shortages, particularly aides and substitute teachers, could push the schools into considering a move to distance learning in lieu of in-person instruction. “As we have had a number of unfilled positions over the last month, we need to continue looking at the need to move toward distance learning,” he wrote in his letter Friday. “We have worked very hard to keep our schools open during (COVID) mitigation and adversity, but without our educational staff, it will be hard to meet the true social emotional learning and needs of our students.”
Sage Smiley, KSTK Wrangell

Wrangell’s school district officials have set aside $20,000 to resolve federal tax issues they say are a case of crossed wires. Wrangell Public Schools’ business office manager Tammy Stromberg says that it’s a few different problems, but boils down to the fact that the district was filing paper tax returns and paying by check.
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Native Youth Olympics (NYO) Games
Nick Hansen and Kyle Worl assist a student competing in the wrist carry event at the
NYO Traditional Games event held in Juneau April 2-3, 2021. Photo: Connor Meyer
Each year, more than 2,000 students from over 50 communities across Alaska participate in the Native Youth Olympics (NYO) Games.
The purpose of the Games is to promote:
  • Healthy lifestyles, positive self-esteem, and leadership skills
  • Appreciation of Alaska Native traditions
  • Good sportsmanship through friendly athletic competition
  • Cross-cultural understanding

For thousands of years and countless generations, survival for Alaska Native people depended not only on individual strength, skill and knowledge, but also on the ability to work together toward common goals.

Traditional athletic contests and games helped develop these and other skills critical to everyday life in the challenging Alaska environment.
A student athlete attempts a Two-foot High Kick. Photo courtesy NYO Games Alaska
Today’s NYO Games Alaska carries on in this spirit by encouraging young people to strive for their personal best while helping and supporting their teammates—and even other teams. Student athletes compete in a variety of traditional events that include Alaskan High Kick, One-foot High Kick, Two-foot High Kick, One-Hand Reach, Kneel Jump, Scissor Broad Jump, Eskimo Stick Pull, Indian Stick Pull, Wrist Carry, and the Seal Hop.

The Games are open to students from all backgrounds and promotes cross-cultural understand and respect, fostering statewide relationships and connections. The 2022 statewide NYO Senior Games were held at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage April 21-23. The 2022 NYO Traditional Games hosted by Sealaska Heritage were held at Juneau's Thunder Mountain High School April 2-3.

Kyle Worl is Keynote Speaker at NYO Games Alaska
NYO Games Alaska Facebook

NYO Games Alaska is thankful to announce that Kyle Worl has accepted our request to be the Keynote Speaker at the 2022 Senior NYO Games being held at the Alaska Airlines Center!

Kyle helped revitalize NYO Games in Juneau when he brought a team to Senior NYO in 2018 for the first time since 1991. Over the years, Kyle has been instrumental in the lives of NYO participants both at the junior and senior games.

Learn more about how NYO changed Kyle's life OR how he has changed the course of NYO for the better.
Kyle Ḵaayák’w Worl inducted into 2022 Indigenous Native American Hall of Fame
North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame

Kyle Ḵaayák’w Worl is an award-winning Arctic Sports athlete and coach currently residing in Juneau, Alaska. Worl is Tlingit of the Lukaax̱.ádi clan, Deg Hit’an Athabascan and Yup'ik. 

Over his 13 year career in the sport he has won over 100 medals, traveling through Alaska, Canada and Greenland to participate in various competitions.

He is credited for spurring a renaissance in Arctic Sports in southeast Alaska as the first coach for Juneau in over 25 years to bring a team to the Native Youth Olympics in 2018.

Kyle Worl has received the NYO Healthy Coach Award two years. Photo courtesy NYO Games Alaska
Kyle Worl. Photo courtesy North American Indigenous Athletics Hall of Fame
Traditional Games Fill Gym with More than Champions
Klas Stolpe, KINY Juneau

The podiums, the medals, the records and the applause all paled to the true meaning of the 2022 Traditional Games held at Juneau's Thunder Mountain High School gymnasium over the weekend.

“For me I guess it is a sense of community,” Thunder Mountain senior Ezra Elisoff said.
Athletes participate in the Traditional Games opening ceremony. Photo: Klas Stolpe
“I actually like learning about my culture now. Because before I didn’t know much about my culture and so I played the games and that actually sparked an interest to look more forward into my Tlingit heritage," said Elisoff. Now I am actually more aware.”

Elisoff was also chosen as the event’s High School Boys Overall Athlete. Elisoff set a new record for high school boys in the Alaskan High Kick with 86 inches. He also placed first in the Inuit Stick Pull and the One Hand Reach, placed second in the Kneel Jump, third in the Scissor Broad Jump and Two Foot High Kick, and fourth in the One Foot High Kick and the Seal/Knuckle Hop.

Read More > Story includes photos and audio interviews by Klas Stolpe, and complete 2022 Traditional Games results courtesy of Sealaska Heritage Institute.
Klas Stolpe, KINY Juneau

Watching Unalakleet’s Nick Hansen at the recent 2022 Traditional Games in Juneau one thing was certain - he is tough to catch up to. When Hansen was not competing, he was teaching, when not teaching he was socializing, when not socializing, well, there was not a time he was not in demand.

Much like the indigenous sports he excels in, his life has also blossomed. Known as the Eskimo Ninja on the athletic competition show American Ninja Warrior and a face of telecommunications company GCI, Hansen has used his success to give back to the sport and to youth across the state.
Nick Hansen
Photo: Klas Stolpe
Alaska School Activities Association Calendar
Upcoming Events

May 6–7, 2022
Evening Command Performances in Anchorage

May 26-28, 2022
at Eagle River, Service and West Anchorage High Schools

May 27-28, 2022
at Dimond High School in Anchorage
Austin Sjong, KTUU Anchorage

Spring sports in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Interior, Southeast Alaska and the Anchorage area are all waiting for the same thing: the snow to melt. For some areas of the state it is easier than for others.
Austin Sjong, KTUU Anchorage

Over 270 kids from high schools, middle schools and elementary schools around the state took over the courts at Chugiak High School to decide champions of the Alaska badminton world. Lisa Ward and Paul Knechtel of the nonprofit “Badminton Goes Viral” helped host the Alaska State Badminton School Team Championship tournament for the third time in the state, and the first one in two years due to the pandemic.
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.

- For More Information -

Email Timi Tullis or call 907-463-1660
AASB Superintendent Search Service
Looking for a New Superintendent?

The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting successful and economical superintendent searches for over twenty years.
Our Superintendent Search Service provides expert facilitation of the entire search process, including identifying the needs of the district, recruiting candidates, conducting background searches, facilitating interviews, and all the steps to help with the hiring process. Learn about our Search Service

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us

Your school district is a vital member of the Association of Alaska School Boards, our state’s leading advocate for public education. Together, we work to ensure equity by strengthening the connections between schools, families, tribes, communities, and government so that every Alaskan child has the opportunity to receive a quality public education.

The many services AASB offers are designed to provide maximum benefit to our members in meeting their district's goals. Check out our Membership Benefits brochure and let us know how we can assist you!

Association of Alaska School Boards | aasb.org