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.
August 2020
Virtual Fall Boardsmanship Academy
September 19-20
Virtual AASB 67th Annual Conference
November 6-8
Virtual AASB Maintenance Conference
October 7-8
Response Due By
October 6, 2020

AASB is soliciting resolutions, resolution amendments, and comments from local school boards for consideration by the 2020 Resolutions Committee and the membership.

Resolutions guide our association for the coming year, as well as our advocacy and positions during the upcoming legislative session.

Norm Wooten
AASB Executive Director
The Right People for the Job: Alaskans
We will all remember March of 2020 when the unthinkable happened – schools shut their doors! Amid all this upheaval, school districts immediately began planning for the 2020-21 school year. I attended many Zoom meetings this summer and saw so many of you participating in the same sessions. The work accomplished was amazing – and it was all student-centered.

Timi Tullis
AASB Associate Executive Director
It's All About Relationships
Relationships are everything to our association. The relationships you have with your fellow board members can make or break the board team. The relationship you develop with your superintendent will have long-lasting effects on your district, and can make a difference in increasing student achievement and staff retention. Here are some tips for keeping our relationships strong during these challenging times.

Summary of Statewide School Reopening Plans
Balancing the educational needs of students with the health and safety of staff, students, families, and communities is the challenge schools across Alaska are facing
this year.

Throughout the summer, districts have been busy preparing school reopening plans based on the Smart Start guidance framework provided by DHSS and DEED.
Here's a snapshot of the instructional methods districts across Alaska plan to use to start this school year.

DEED and AASB Release An Online Resource "Transforming Schools Trauma-Engaged Toolkit"
The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) and the Department of Education & Early Development (DEED) released a new resource for Alaska schools, the Transforming Schools Toolkit. This online resource is a companion guide to the “Transforming Schools: A Framework for Trauma Engaged Practice in Alaska,” released in 2019. The toolkit provides activities, tools and resources for each of the eleven components of the framework.

Starting September 15th, weekly webinars and discussions will be offered to school district staff, school board members, and families. Sign up here.
At the recent release of the Transforming Schools Toolkit, during Alaska’s Smart Start Summit, AASB and DEED included tools from four of the content areas: deconstructing trauma, relationship building, family partnerships, and self-care. The session panelists from Lower Yukon, Bering Strait, Sitka, and Mat-Su school districts pointed out how these tools are needed now more than ever and shared how their districts are approaching work in each of these areas.

Alaska’s Early Childhood Needs Assessment and Environmental Scan Now Available
A Needs Assessment of Alaska’s Mixed Delivery System of Early Childhood Care and Education and accompanying appendices are now available on the AASB website and soon at the Early Childhood Alaska webnsite. Printed versions are available by emailing aasb@aasb.org.

The statewide needs assessment was conducted by the McDowell Group and coordinated by AASB with guidance from the Alaska Early Childhood Joint Task Force. The assessment served as the basis for the new early childhood statewide strategic plan which will be finalized in September.
Funding for both projects was provided by the state’s first Preschool Development Grant (PDG B-5) from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services awarded to the Alaska Dept. of Education and Early Development in partnership with the Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services.

In addition, the All Alaska Pediatric Partnership (A2P2) has released its study, Alaska Early Childhood Environmental Scan & Baseline Report on the Condition of Young Children, June 2020 available here. AASB supported A2P2’s scan with some of its PDG funding to promote collaboration in gathering and analyzing data for the needs assessment and the scan.

For more information contact Betsy Brenneman, Preschool Development Grant Coordinator.
Don't Miss This Safe School Reopening Webinar Series!

As part of our ongoing series of informational webinars, throughout the month of August AASB staff and guest presenters explored the practical, political, and legal issues surrounding safe school reopening.
Recordings of these lively and informative one-hour Zoom presentations are available on-demand in audio and video formats.
. WEBINAR . How the Board can Support their Superintendent during the COVID Pandemic
Presenters: Clint Champion, Dr. Bridget Weiss, Scott MacManus, Lon Garrison, and Timi Tullis. Co-sponsored by AASB and the Alaska Superintendent's Association.
. WEBINAR . COVID and School Opening Issues
Presenters: John Sedor and NEA Attorney Michael Wenstrup explore a range of possible legal scenarios associated with school reopening.
. WEBINAR . Simple Answers to All Your COVID-19 Legal Questions
A conversation with DEED Commissioner Michael Johnson and Attorney John Sedor about operational legal issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Position Announcement:
AASB Executive Director
The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) seeks a dynamic and highly skilled executive to lead our team in Juneau, Alaska.

Registration Now Open!

Virtual Fall Boardsmanship Academy
September 19-20
AASB's Fall Boardsmanship Academy will be held virtually this year, and we've been busy putting together a program that will be engaging, interactive and informative!
NEW EVENT PRICING The single registration fee ($975) covers anyone in your district that wishes to attend – Board members, Superintendent, and district staff.

Sessions will cover many of the issues your school district is currently grappling with, and there will be ample opportunities to share and learn from other districts.

Joins us! We look forward to seeing you!

AASB Annual Conference
Goes Virtual
AASB strives to keep our members safe, healthy, and informed so your vital work of supporting the students, families, and schools of your communities can continue. To this end, the AASB Board of Directors has decided to hold our 2020 Annual Conference virtually.
While this year’s conference will be decidedly different from past years, we’re working hard to deliver the type of quality event you expect from AASB.

We’ll share more details soon. In the meantime, be sure to add these dates to your calendar:
AASB Virtual Annual Conference
November 6 - 8
Seeking Youth Performers for
AASB Virtual Annual Conference!
One of the best parts of AASB’s Annual Conference is seeing the incredible talents of Alaska’s youth. We are seeking youth performers for this year's virtual Annual Conference (November 6-8.) This is 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 preforming, please reach out to Jenni Lefing.

We welcome students sharing any skills including cultural/traditional activities.

AASB will work with your student(s) to put together a recorded segment to play at Annual Conference.
ASK AASB: What actions does the board need to take for receiving CARES Act funding?
We've received funding from the Borough through the CARES Act. Does the board need to vote on receiving the money and how it is to be spent?

The Show Must Go On
Lea Filippi of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
As you may know, Broadway is shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking of the Empire State, you may also have heard that in late July the families of several students with disabilities filed a lawsuit in federal district court in New York with potentially national reach.
Lea Filippi
The lawsuit claims that the closure of schools in March due to the pandemic violated state and federal law including the Americans With Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act which requires that students with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education and sets out specific processes for how teams will determine what that looks for individual students.

Conflict of interest can be complicated
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
The basic principle underlying conflict of interest is easy to state but applying it in real-life cases can be complicated.
In a nutshell, when you accept a position on a local government body or a nonprofit board, you are obliged to put the interests of the organization above your own personal interest, and you can’t use your position for personal advantage.

STEPS Spotlight
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.
School Climate & Connectedness in the Time of Covid-19

The importance of school climate does not stop when you leave a “brick and mortar” school. Feeling safe, connected, and welcomed is all about relationships – which extend well beyond a school building. It is even more important now for students and staff to experience a positive school climate and for schools to receive insights into school community perceptions.

STEPS communities use the 2020 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS) to identify key areas to work on during COVID-19 school start up.

The pandemic is requiring families to participate in their child's learning in more specific ways. However, in 2020 we can see a range of responses to the question, “How often do you help your child with school work?”
These responses help us know that many families may have been unprepared and inexperienced in helping their child with school work on a regular basis. There may be some foundational tools and training needed for families. What resources is your school or organization dedicating to orienting and partnering with families?

School and district data is available through the Alaska SCCS Statewide Results. Contact Jenni Lefing to review, find strategies, and make the most of your school climate data.
Tlingit MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)

Host X’unei Lance Twichell welcomed over 170 regular participants to use, learn and teach Lingít in a safe environment that promotes language use and correcting with kindness. If you missed the virtual lessons, recordings are available on the Lingît Yoo X’atángi website. 

Using New Tools to Connect to Old Ways

Yakutat Summer Explorers
and #OldWaysSummerDay campaign from Tlingit and Haida put locally-developed resources into the hands of families via kits, guides, and scavenger hunts, helping families support learning in meaningful ways that are connected to place and culture. See examples:

Digital Access in Sitka 

A collaboration between the Sitka School District, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and the Sitka Borough helped ensure equity of access to digital devices for all students. The group opted for LTE enabled iPads to allow for students to connect to online resources regardless of home internet connectivity.
To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
State & National News
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.
Ty Mase of Lake and Peninsula School District Named Alaska’s 2021 Superintendent of the Year
Alaska Superintendent's Association
Superintendent Ty Mase of Lake and Peninsula School District has been named Alaska 2021 Superintendent of the Year by the Alaska Superintendents Association.

“Thirty years serving on the Lake and Peninsula School Board has given me the opportunity to work with several superintendents,” says Patty Alsworth. “I honestly believe Mr. Mase is one of the most outstanding, not only in our district, but also in our state.

Ty Mase, Superintendent
Lake and Peninsula School District
In remote Alaska, broadband for all remains a dream. So a school district got creative
Shara Tibken, c/net
Aleutians East Borough School District has built a wide area mesh network to enable virtual learning, skirting the need for internet access in students' homes.

"There's very, very limited access to the internet out here," said Superintendent Patrick Mayer. "Most families just don't have it here. It's tremendously expensive."

To get around that, the school district has gotten creative. It's building its own digital content delivery system that doesn't need internet access. The school district will be able to beam signals to students' homes, sort of like setting up a TV station and equipping homes to tune in over an antenna.

The Aleutians East Borough School District in Alaska has set up radio towers to beam lessons to students in their homes. Photo: Aleutians East Borough School District
ACPE Alaska High School Senior Survey
In May 2020, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education conducted a brief survey of Alaska High School Seniors to determine if the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their postsecondary education plans. Over 600 survey responses were compiled and analyzed to produce the following outcome documents.
A narrative of the survey, respondent demographics, and findings that pertain to the following topics: Postsecondary Education Planning, Impacts on PSE and Admissions Process, Impacts on Distance-Delivered Education, and Financial Aid Awareness.
A high level overview with visual representations of the survey’s key findings.
Teachers Are Creating Virtual Bitmoji Classrooms
Nikki Katz, We Are Teachers
We’ve all used Bitmojis to express our feelings or send birthday wishes to friends. But have you thought about building a virtual Bitmoji classroom for back to school?

If you’ll be teaching virtually, this is a fun and helpful option for your students. The interactive elements allow them to click through to see assignments, documents, and websites.

Alaska School Reopening News
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.
Mayowa Aina & Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media
Instead of crowded hallways and noisy classrooms, tens of thousands of teachers and students logged onto their computers and gathered online to begin a brand new, virtual school year.
Scott Gross, KTVA
Close to 3,000 students have elected to leave the district. The loss could have devastating consequences.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
Each of the Anchorage School District’s homeschool programs are full, with waitlists of hundreds of families.
Scott Gross, KTVA
On the first day of school, a male student from Dimond High School threatened students and staff with a gun in multiple virtual classrooms. To enhance safety in virtual classrooms, these are some measures that can be taken:
Ariane Aramburo, KTUU
Like many school districts across the state, Covid-19 numbers are being monitored closely. For the Fairbanks North Star Borough school district, it’s currently operating in the yellow zone. That means families have a few options like E-learning, homeschool or a blended model.
Robyne, KUAC
On top of academic challenges, students sometimes face unequal service by school staff because of heritage, skin color or sexual identity. Last year, the administration hired a consultant to investigate the district’s climate for prejudice and abuse.
Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO
For many parents, sending their kids to school gives them a break from child care while they’re at work.That relief isn’t coming when school begins next Monday in Juneau because local education officials decided to keep kids at home over pandemic concerns.
Juneau Empire
Students can pick up breakfasts and lunches at all Juneau schools from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every day inside the school entrance.
Jeff Helminiak, Peninsula Clarion
Rising COVID-19 cases delay on-site learning until at least Sept. 8.
By Jay Barrett
The district's new online dashboard provides the ability to check school risk levels and other updated information.
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce/Arctic Sounder
Classes will go on at Alaska's colleges and training centers where the coursework regularly requires working with one's hands, but the first day of school will be far from normal.
Andrew Kenneson, Kodiak Daily Mirror
About 83% of students in the Kodiak Island Borough School District will be going to school in person this fall. The district has been urging parents to complete enrollment choices as soon as possible, so it can make decisions about staffing.
Johanna Eurich & Greg Kim, KYUK
Bethel students will remain at home instead of heading to classrooms. School administrators hope that the kids will be able to come into classrooms part-time by September 8, as originally planned.
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
The Mat-Su School District on Thursday reported a confirmed case of COVID-19 involving a third grade student at Machetanz Elementary in Wasilla. It will switch to at-home learning while the school building is closed for disinfection from Friday through Sunday and school will resume Monday, according to the district.
Matt Leseman, KTUU
Following the announcement of two cases of COVID-19 among arriving students Friday, some parents are raising concerns over the school’s plan.
Emily Hofstaedter, KNOM
Nome public schools will open in the “Red Phase” after a student-athlete tested positive for COVID-19. Classes will be held in a fully distance-learning manner.
Jenna Kunze, Arctic Sounder
The North Slope Borough's first charter school opened for enrollment last week with 60 slots for high school students in Utqaigvik, Wainwright and one additional undetermined community. Qargi Academy, named after the Iñupiaq word for "community house," restructures education with an emphasis on Iñupiaq language, culture and tradition.
Wesley Early, KOTZ
As the school year starts in the Northwest Arctic Borough, students in five communities will be conducting all of their classes online.
Wesley Early, KOTZ
NWAB Superintendent Terri Walker joined KOTZ News Director Wesley Early live on-air to discuss how schooling will look for students under safety precautions brought on by the pandemic.
Angela Denning, KFSK
Petersburg schools will start with part in-school and part out-of-school instruction on August 31. The district’s school board Aug. 11 voted on a local plan to hold school during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as schedules for all of the schools.
Robert Woolsey, KCAW
Low school enrollment in Anchorage has Sitka officials a bit worried that parents may be exploring alternatives to public education — in spite of an intensive effort to make schools safe this fall.
Melinda Munson, Skagway News
The Skagway School Board voted to implement the 2020-2021 Smart Start to School Coronavirus Plan, declining the ad hoc committee’s suggestion that students wear face masks at all times except lunch.
Sean Maguire, KTUU
Some school districts across Southeast Alaska are planning to fully reopen to in-person classes five days per week, but that could change if COVID-19 case numbers rise. Other districts across Southeast are still planning to open more cautiously.
Hank Davis, KTUU
85% of the classes that would normally be meeting on campus are being carried out entirely online. Other “in-person only” classes are adhering to strict mask, distancing and capacity requirements.
Sage Smiley, KSTK
Wrangell’s superintendent of schools has apologized for what she called “a heinous and perhaps unforgivable mistake.” That’s following revelations that she chartered a plane for a trip to Juneau for herself and three subordinates to purchase supplies for the upcoming semester. The Wrangell Assembly responded by rescinding a quarter million dollars in federal pandemic relief funds for the schools and demanded better accounting and accountability from the district.
Alaska School Sports News
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.
Gilbert Cordova, KTUU
The Anchorage School District says high schools will be able to start conditioning only practices for the fall sports season, allowing athletes to maintain 10 feet of distance while exercising. All participants will be screened daily before practice and will be required to wear a mask “when not engaged in vigorous physical activity.”
Brian Venua & Kendra Kapotak, KDLG
School is starting and a big question for families, staff and students is whether athletic programs will continue during the coronavirus pandemic. The Dillingham City School District says they will, as long as each program submits a safety plan.
Dan Bross, KUAC
A Fairbanks high school football player tested positive for COVID-19 after a Saturday game between West Valley and Lathrop high schools.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
The Fairbanks football player who tested positive for COVID-19 is the first known athlete from an Alaska high school to catch the virus, according to the head of the state school activities association, which is monitoring the situation.
Megan Pacer, Homer News
Homer fall sports are forging ahead with their respective seasons, even though there is no clear picture of what those seasons will look like just yet.
Heather Hintze, KTVA
High school football is in full swing in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Students are staff are taking precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus during the season.
Brian Varela, Petersburg Pilot
Although the Petersburg Parks and Recreation community pool has reopened on a limited basis, Petersburg High School students will have to wait until Sept. 2 for the swim and dive season to start.
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.

- 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