Newsletter of the Association of Alaska School Boards
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

Norm Wooten, AASB Executive Director
Jenni Lefing AASB
School Climate Coordinator
Pete Hoepfner, AASB
Board President
2017 Session:
The Never Ending Story?

For those of us involved with the legislative process on a day-to-day basis, it seemed as if the 2017 session would go on forever. 
Digging into Your 2017 SCCS Results!
This year, 27 districts are viewing School Climate & Connectedness Survey results on a new survey platform that provides better understanding and interactivity with the data.
Working Toward Developing Resilience
in Our Students
By being proactive-rather than punitive-in our approach and policy work, we can elevate students who are floundering or frustrated to success.

Guest Columns
Following their initial meeting at the Dena'ina Center in Anchorage last April, members of the five Alaska's Education Challenge committees continued to meet over the summer developing recommendations that can bring
transformational change to Alaska's education system. 

In the following guest columns, facilitators for each of the five committees, Student Learning; Tribal & Community Ownership; Educator Excellence; Safety & Well-Being; and Modernization & Finance, provide updates on their progress to date.
Alaska's Education Challenge: A Progress Report 
Jerry Covey, Managing Partner, JSC Consulting
Jerry Covey
Governor Walker, in his 2017 State of State address, spoke of his forthcoming plan to improve public education in Alaska. The Governor's comments launched the current effort to craft changes in our education system that will address our student achievement gaps and increase our graduation rates by making sure that every student across our state has equal opportunities to learn and succeed.  
UPDATE: Student Learning Committee 
Facilitator: Nancy Norman, Professional Development Specialist, Norman Consultant Services, Inc.
Nancy Norman
Our committee's diverse membership includes representation from school boards, superintendents, principals, teachers, and students, as well as tribal, business and government leaders. While our recommendations are still in draft form and do not yet have the approval of the entire committee, our preliminary discussions have centered upon three main areas:
UPDATE: Tribal & Community Ownership Committee  
Facilitator: Timi Tullis, Director, AASB Board Development and Field Services
Timi Tullis
The Tribal & Community Ownership committee met for it's second phone meeting in early August to continue the work around their topical area. They were able to narrow in on three categories that they feel would significantly help move public education for every child, every day forward in our state. Those are:
UPDATE: Educator Excellence Committee  
Facilitator: Dr. Lisa Skiles Parady, Director, Alaska Council of School Administrators 
Dr. Lisa Skiles Parady
Rebecca Himschoot and John Harmon are Co-chairs of the Educator Excellence Committee, which I am facilitating. Many of the following recommendations focus on teachers, but the full committee recognizes that reforming Alaska's principal preparation and providing for ongoing, job-embedded support for principals as well as superintendents is also critical. 
UPDATE: Safety & Well-Being Committee 
Facilitator: Sana Efird, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Education and Early Development
Sana Efird
The Safety & Well-Being Committee has met four times working toward the goal of producing transformative recommendations to be presented to the State Board of Education in October. As with each Alaska's Education Challenge Committee, the Safety & Well-Being Committee has broad representation across many stakeholders including parents, students, teachers, principals, superintendents, other State agencies, and legislators. 
UPDATE: Modernization & Finance Committee 
Facilitator: Dr. Robert Whicker, Director, AASB Consortium for Digital Learning  
Dr. Robert Whicker
Our committee has focused on developing recommendations to transform the educational system in Alaska by harnessing modern opportunities and tools to amplify student learning. Toward that goal, our work has taken us to consider that, through continuous innovation, a system that:
Personalized Learning: What It Is and Why It Matters for Alaska
By Scott Johns, Associate Partner, Education Elements
Scott Johns
Many schools and districts across the country are making shifts toward a practice called personalized learning, including districts in Alaska such as the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Kenai Peninsula Borough. As the term has become popular, educators and community leaders may have questions regarding the practice: What is personalized learning? Why does personalized learning matter? How can I be sure that personalized learning isn't just a passing fad?
AASB Events
Register Now: AASB Fall Boardsmanship Academy
September 23-24, Westmark Anchorage 
The 2017 Fall Boardsmanship Academy will offer varied and relevant sectionals on Alaska's Education Challenge, Renewable Energy, Social Emotional Learning, Effective Superintendent Evaluations, AVTEC, and more.
Register to Attend > (see agenda, hotel, and summary info)  
Register Now: AASB Charter School Academy 
October 13-14, Location TBA  
AASB is pleased to announce that we will be hosting our 3rd academy for charter school principals and Academic Policy Committee (APC) members. The two day event will be held in Anchorage and will feature a variety of workshops of interest to charter school administrators. Registration will be opening soon.

Register Now: AASB Maintenance Employees Conference 
October 18-19, Residence Inn Anchorage Midtown  
AASB and Alaska Public Entity Insurance (APEI) are teaming up to bring you the 4th Annual Maintenance Employees Conference. This 2-day event will focus on school district maintenance issues and safety. It's a great way to learn from experts and your peers and to network with other maintenance folks from across the state.

Apply Now: Annual Conference "Snapshot Session" Presentations 
AASB Annual Conference: November 9-12, 2017, Anchorage Hilton  
The AASB 2017 Annual Conference is just around the corner! We invite past participants and newcomers to present at our Snapshot Sessions on Friday November 10 during the conference. 
This year the number of Snapshot Sessions will be limited to 20,
and spots will be filled in the order they're received. To guarantee your table, send us a completed application form soon. The submission deadline is October 6, 2017.  
What's Your Opinion? Add a Family Survey to the SCCS?
AASB is seeking your input to develop a Family Survey option for  Alaska's School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS), as school districts have requested.
Currently, there are two student surveys (grades 3-5 and grades 6-12) and one staff survey.

Including family perceptions around school climate and connectedness is key to improving students' academic and social outcomes, and improving school climate overall. Adding a family survey option would allow districts to see student, staff, and family perceptions of school climate areas side-by-side.

Please take our short survey and let us know what you think!
Board Briefs
Death of the Printed Policy Manual  
One of the biggest challenges to having effective policies in schools is communicating current and updated policies to stakeholders, who include students, teachers, parents, and the community at large.  1 Minute Read >  
Is there a policy on how boards hire a school administrator or superintendent?
Alaska school boards using AASB model policies have BP4111 and BP4211 which address the recruitment and hiring of certificated personnel.
2 Minute Read >
How accessible is your district's policy manual? 
Having an updated district policy manual online and visibly available to anyone ensures that everyone is on the same page. Where's your district manual located?
Take 30 second Poll >
Last Month's Snapshot Poll Results
Which Alaska's Education Challenge priorities does your district need most?
Answer options: 
1. Student Learning
2. Educator Excellence 
3. Modernization 
4. Tribal & Community Ownership 
5. Safety & Well-Being
Summer News Summary
John Conwell Named 2018 Alaska Superintendent of the Year
By Alaska Superintendents Association    
John Conwell (center) with Unalaska School Board
The Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA) is honored to announce Unalaska City School District's John Conwell as Alaska's 2018 Superintendent of the Year. The Superintendent of the Year program, now in its 31st year, pays tribute to a school system's top leader who exemplifies effectiveness, knowledge, leadership, ethics, and commitment.
School Health & Wellness Institute Focuses on Healthy and Successful Students
By Wendy Hamilton, Alaska Division of Public Health   
Registration is open for the 12th Annual School Health & Wellness Institute (SHWI). The Institute will be held October 30 - November 1, 2017, at the BP Energy Center in Anchorage. Registration is free and is required to attend. This three-day institute is a professional development opportunity providing attendees with knowledge, skills and resources in all aspects of student and school health.
Alaska Education Commissioner Calls for Unity
By Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner   
Education Commissioner Michael Johnson spoke at the 2017 Tanana Chiefs Conference Education Summit in Fairbanks, encouraging educators and Alaska Native leaders to unify around a common vision for education in Alaska. "What we need to do is create some unity in this state about what we want in an education system." said Johnson. "The answer to better schools is sitting here in front of me," he told the room of nearly 100 people.
Could LKSD Support of Alaska Native Teacher Training Put an End to Teacher Turnover?
Our Greatest Resource: The Teacher in the Classroom
By Dr. Rod Berger, Global Education Correspondent, edCircuit
North Slope Borough Superintendent Stewart McDonald being interviewed by Dr. Rod Berger
Stewart McDonald, 2017 Alaska Superintendent of the Year discusses his winning strategy for student success: a paradigm shift from the traditional model to a "knowledge economy" that incorporates greater community and industry involvement. This type of vibrant educational setting encourages students to take greater ownership of their learning, helps them build a positive personal vision of their future, and increases parent buy-in and support. 
Equity for All Kids: Alaska's Approach
By Chris Minnich, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers
Noatak School
Noatak, a small village only accessible by plane in Alaska's arctic tundra, is remote but its students are not isolated. With ease, kids log into a video-teleconference system and learn trigonometry from a teacher who lives and works in Kotzebue, about 30 minutes away by plane.
Recruiting teachers to this village-and many other Alaska villages that are "off-road"-is difficult so educators must be creative in meeting students' needs. This is what delivering an equitable education looks like in Alaska. 
Kodiak Principal Receives National Recognition for Digital Initiatives  
By Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Dispatch News 
For his weekly podcast, Jethro Jones interviews Christopher Kai, a California businessman and author
As principal of Kodiak Middle School, Jethro Jones said he wanted to improve students' sense of belonging at school, so he assembled a group of staff members who volunteered to go to the students' homes one day last summer. "Our goal was to visit the home of every single kid and make sure they knew that we cared about them," the 35-year-old principal said in an interview after an announcement from the leading national secondary school principal association that he had been named a "digital principal of the year."
Kenai Peninsula begins 10-year contract with Apple Bus Company
By Kat Sorenson, Peninsula Clarion
Kenai Peninsula Borough school board members take a ride on one of the district's new Apple buses.
After 18 months of preparation by the Missouri-based company, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will begin its 10-year contract with Apple Bus Company, ending its current contract with First Student. Apple Bus Company has three locations, in Soldotna, Homer and Seward. According to board documents, the switch from First Student to Apple Bus Company will save the district nearly $90,000 a year.
NANA Management Services Will Continue to Provide Food Services for Nome Public Schools 
Students getting suited up
During a July 9 Nome Public Schools Board of Education meeting, Shawn Arnold, superintendent for NPS, stated that the food services rate won't increase this year. According to Arnold, under this year's agreement each student lunch costs $6.74 and breakfast costs $4.49.
Board Member Nancy Mendenhall questioned if anything could be done to limit the food being wasted or put it to better use. 
2 More Alaska Schools Close Due to Shrinking Enrollments
By Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Dispatch News 
Ruby Oatman stands in front of St. George School, where she used to teach. Photo: Pribilof School District
 A tiny school on remote St. George Island in the Bering Sea and an alternative school in the Interior's Delta Junction have shut their doors due to shrinking enrollments, according to the state education department.
Both New Horizons High School and St. George School were expected to enroll fewer than 10 students this fall, the minimum needed for full state funding. Since 1999, an average of two Alaska public schools have closed each year - all but one due to low enrollment, according to state records.
Education Was One of First Priorities for Fledgling Town of Wasilla
By Ray Bonnell / Sketches of Alaska, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Wasilla's first schoolhouse was built in 1917 soon after the town was established.
Railroad tracks reached Wasilla May 2, 1917 . Residents were eager to build up the new community. One of their first actions was petitioning the Territory to establish a school district. National Register of Historic Places documents state that a school board election was held on August 2nd. By October, the school board had developed plans for a school building, and requested construction funds from the Territory. After receiving $3,100, the school board hired O.J. Meehan to build a schoolhouse.
Fun Facts About States from the US Census Bureau
Do you know how many fast food restaurants there are in Alaska? Or how many homes have a computer? The U.S. Census Bureau's Statistics in Schools program has the answers to these questions, and more. With the State Facts for Students tool, students can access data on each state's history, population, businesses, and geography.
What's Happening In Your District? 
Include Your News in Commentary! 
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings
Looking for a New Superintendent?
The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting superintendent searches for over 20 years.
Learn about our Search Services >

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us >
Valdez City Schools Superintendent Opening for 2018-2019
Application Deadline: January 8, 2018
For more information please contact Superintendent of Schools Jim Nygaard (907) 835-4357

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us >
Yupiit School District Seeks Business Manager
Duties and Responsibilities include:
  • Supervises the management of the financial affairs of the schools.
  • Assumes responsibility for budget development and long-range financial planning.
  • Establishes and supervises a program of accounting adequate to record in detail all money and credit transaction.
  • Supervises all accounting operations.
  • Acts a payroll officer for the district
The Board is willing to offer $115,000 DOE for the right applicant. Alaska school finance experience is paramount, as is the ability to work well with Yup'ik people. 
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