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.
- School Board Candidate's Guide
- What’s New at AASB for the 2021-22 School Year
- COVID Requirements for AASB In-person Events
- Webinars: Professional Boundaries Training
- Webinar: Running for AASB Board
- AASB's Fall Boardsmanship Academy
- AASB's 68th Annual Conference
- Call for Resolutions!
- John Sedor - A Free AND Ordered Space
- Jurassic Parliament - Our worst selves
- Ask AASB
- Highlighting Strategic Plans: Hoonah City Schools
- STEPS Spotlight
- Federal, State and District News
- and more!
Making Hard Choices – Sharing Responsibility
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

As many of you know, AASB has decided that the safest way to offer in-person events is to require proof of vaccination for COVID-19. Our academies and conferences are an essential part of what AASB does for school board members and superintendents.

After experiencing nearly 17 months of remote meetings, the notion of coming back together in-person is somewhat overwhelming and very exciting. On the other hand, I can imagine it will be a bit of an anxious time for some.  However, I have seen first-hand recently when working with individual boards how much this opportunity means and the quality of the work that gets accomplished.

School Board Candidate Guide
Katie Oliver, President, AASB Board of Directors

The Association of Alaska School Boards recognizes District’s desire to increase the
communication between the public and the school district. AASB also realizes District’s would like to encourage all interested persons to become involved in the education process in a positive way.

The new AASB Run For School Board webpage is designed to be a friendly way for your district to approach school board candidates, and to promote a positive working relationship with new school board members and the school district from the beginning.

Other great resources include the following:

Thank you for pledging to share your wisdom and knowledge to help create a bright future for children in your school district and throughout Alaska.
Role of School Board Members During the Election Cycle
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director

This time of year comes with a lot of change. As we head back to school from our summer vacations, the long summer days turn into the shorter days of fall, full of colors and a crispness in the air. There is an excitement for the newness, AND we hope there is also the same excitement for newness on your Board.

Typically, 90% of the boards in Alaska look different after your local elections, as new members are voted into their role on the board team.  
What, if anything, should seated school board members do during the election cycle?
Here are a few suggestions:

Remembering a Key Lesson from 2020 – Family Partnership
Lisa X’unyéil Worl, STEPS Partnership Coordinator

While we’d all like to forget much of 2020, it brought an important, necessary experience, true family partnership.

s schools closed last year, our students learned from home. And with this experience, parents saw new challenges in teaching their kids classroom content.

Teachers, working with parents, offered tips and ways for parents to support that learning. There was a lot for families, school staff, and students to navigate: food, technology, access equity, and working as a team. The coming school year is an opportunity to deepen these relationships, and use practices identified by families and school staff in 2020.

Erin Morotti Joins AASB
We're excited to announce that Erin Morotti has joined the team as Grant Manager/Grant Writer. She brings a range of experience to AASB that includes her role as an Executive Officer of the UAF Land Grants Department and Finance Officer with the Interior Alaskan Center for Nonviolent Living.
Erin is a parent, has served in the Coast Guard, and is currently a Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Board member. Welcome Erin!
AASB Welcomes Jenny Mathis
AASB is pleased to introduce our new Finance Officer, Jenny Mathis. She holds a Certified Association Executive certification and has been a CPA for 20 years. Jenny has worked with non-profit organizations as an accountant, Assistant Controller, and CFO for over 15 years, and has extensive experience transitioning business functions to the cloud. Jenny and her husband Ronald are busy raising their three kids, two in high school and one in elementary school. We look forward to Jenny's expertise in moving AASB business operations into the 21st century!
AASB is committed to making our 2021 events safe, as your health, well-being, and safety are our top priority.

To that end, a COVID mitigation plan has been developed for all upcoming academies and conferences.
This includes a requirement that all attendees submit proof of vaccination to register and attend the event (for those with a medical exemption, we will work with each individual independently, which may include requiring a negative COVID test). In addition, we will also be requiring everyone to wear a mask while indoors at the events except for those times when you are eating or drinking. 

Our survey of members this summer overwhelmingly indicated folks wanted to have trainings and conferences back in person. We believe that requiring proof of vaccination and masking is the only way to safely and ethically move forward with the in-person events we all so dearly have missed.
What’s New at AASB for the 2021-22 School Year!

With the school year off and running, we want to share AASB’s many exciting learning opportunities and resources to help districts and boards stay connected, engaged, and informed.
Professional Boundaries Training for Educators

Hurry! Two Sessions Left:
September 1 & 2

To reduce child sex abuse in schools, APEI, AASB, and Alaska professionals have developed a 90 minute training session to educate school staff on the importance of maintaining professional boundaries.
Ever Consider Running for AASB Board of Directors?

Join Us for a 1-Hour Webinar
September 9 at Noon

Every November at the Annual Conference, the membership elects individuals to serve on the AASB Board of Directors, but the process to run starts a bit earlier.

Learn more about what it means to serve on the AASB Board, the time commitment involved, what’s required from your district, and get your questions answered at this informative webinar.
AASB’s Fall Boardsmanship Academy
September 17-19 2021
Due to Reaching our COVID Safety Capacity Limit
Friday, September 17, 2021

The focus of this day will be a deep dive into School Board and Superintendent Relations. Topics include developing a strategic plan, goal setting, superintendent evaluation, contracts and improvement plans, led by a knowledgeable panel of presenters: 
  • John Sedor, Sedor Wendlandt Evans & Filippi
  • Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director
  • Dr. Deena Bishop, Anchorage School District Superintendent
  • Dave Herbert, Retired Superintendent, St. Mary's School District
September 18-19, 2021

Hosted this year at the Lakefront Anchorage, the academy will feature networking opportunities and sessions to hone your skills in policy, personnel, trust & teamwork. Session topics include
Lessons Learned from COVID-19, Mental Health Supports, Family Engagement, Special Education Services, Updates from DEED, and much more!
Registration is closed due to reaching our COVID safety capacity limit. If you have any questions, please reach out to aasb@aasb.org
COVID Requirements for attending in-person AASB events

AASB is committed to making the 2021 Fall Boardsmanship Academy a safe event, as your health, well-being, and safety are our top priority. To that end, a COVID mitigation plan has been developed for all upcoming academies and conferences. Therefore, all attendees are required to submit proof of vaccination to register and attend the event (for those with a medical exemption, we will work with each individual independently, which may include requiring a negative COVID test). In addition, we will also be requiring everyone to wear a mask while indoors at the event except for those times when you are eating or drinking. For the full COVID Mitigation Plan, CLICK HERE.
Save the Dates for AASB’s Annual Conference

November 4-7, 2021

The 68th Annual Conference will be held at the Hilton Anchorage. This year’s conference will include two general sessions, over 15 breakout sessions, roundtables, snapshot sessions, networking opportunities June Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser, Delegate Assembly and more!
Registration Opens in September
For updated information
please visit aasb.org
Friday Keynote Speaker
Heather Lende
Alaska State Writer Laureate
and bestselling author
Heather Lende is the Alaska State Writer Laureate and the author of four bestselling memoirs from Algonquin Books:

  • Find the Good
  • If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name
  • Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs
  • and most recently Of Bears and Ballots about her contentious 2016-19 term on the Haines Borough Assembly.

Her many essays and stories, mostly about life and sometimes death, have been distributed widely.
Saturday Keynote Speaker
Nikkie Whaley
Equity Services Manager
Arizona School Boards Association
Nikkie Whaley is a Board Support and Equity Services Manager with the Arizona School Boards Association. She serves as a resource and thought leader in the area of equity, supporting all staff in the progression of the association’s equity initiatives. 

Most recently, she spearheaded the creation of ASBA’s Leading for Equity Curriculum which aims to support boards on their equity journey through specific actions and guided conversations. 

Ms. Whaley will share what her association has done around equity and what school boards can do.
COVID Requirements for Attending In-person AASB events

AASB is committed to making the 2021 Fall Boardsmanship Academy a safe event, as your health, well-being, and safety are our top priority. To that end, a COVID mitigation plan has been developed for all upcoming academies and conferences. Therefore, all attendees are required to submit proof of vaccination to register and attend the event (for those with a medical exemption, we will work with each individual independently, which may include requiring a negative COVID test). In addition, we will also be requiring everyone to wear a mask while indoors at the event except for those times when you are eating or drinking. For the full COVID Mitigation Plan, CLICK HERE.
Call for Resolutions!

Response Due By
Midnight October 5, 2021

It's that time again! AASB is soliciting resolutions, resolution amendments, and comments from local school boards to guide AASB during the upcoming year, establish advocacy priorities, and identify issue positions for the upcoming legislative session.
Support Student Success: Run for School Board!

Local school boards are an American institution and are at the heart of our public education system. Learn more about school boards, get candidate Information, and download a candidate recruitment poster here:
Legislative Fiscal Plan Working Group Meetings

Senate and House leaders formed the bipartisan Fiscal Plan Working Group to focus on a plan to solve Alaska’s fiscal challenges, including a long term solution for the PFD. Summaries, video, and audio of the group's summer meetings here:
A Free AND Ordered Space
Part 1 of the series
John Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
In these AASB Commentaries we provide legal perspectives on issues facing districts across the State. In addition, we also have the latitude to provide some editorial comment. Here is my editorial comment for this month: The 2021-22 school year has begun … Buckle Up! It is shaping up to be a doozy! 😊
John Sedor
Our worst selves
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
When I served on the board of the American Translators Association, a fellow board member drove me crazy. His blithe assumption of superiority and his ego were insufferable. Of course, it is a truism of psychology that a strong emotional reaction like that is linked to unresolved inner issues. When I looked at the matter carefully, I saw that I couldn’t stand this person’s taking the limelight because I wanted it myself.
When you are elected to a board of directors, facing your own worst self is one of the biggest challenges. Service on a board assumes and requires that all members be treated as equals. We have to value each person’s individual contribution even when, from a personal perspective, that contribution seems rather paltry. Being willing to take the time to reflect and consider one’s inner reactions will make a big difference in how effective we are as board members.

Question: Our board has a vacant seat right now, so there is the potential for a tied vote. What are the school board’s procedures when it comes to breaking a tie when voting?
Answer: Most school boards utilize Robert’s Rules when running their meetings, and in Robert’s Rules, a tie is a failed vote. For example, say a 5 member board has a vacant seat, and there is a motion before the board to paint the walls blue. 

The following votes would pass the motion to paint the walls blue:
  • 4 yes votes/0 no votes
  • 3 yes votes/1 no vote

The following votes would fail the motion to paint the walls blue:
  • 0 yes votes/4 no votes
  • 1 yes vote/3 no votes
  • 2 yes votes/2 no votes

In practice, AASB recommends the President of the board be called last, so in the case of a full board, by the time the President is called, if the vote is currently tied, the President is in essence the ’tie-breaker.’

Read more answers to frequently asked questions at Ask AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
This Month's Plan: Hoonah City Schools

Strategic plans are critical to the work of School Boards. A good strategic plan sets the vision for a district, and provides a management road map for the Superintendent.

This month's featured plan is from Hoonah City Schools. In April a group of community members, students, and staff gathered to update their Strategic Plan. The resulting bold design incorporates the district's Vision and Mission statements alongside the traditional values, language, and graphic art of the local Tlingit people.
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.
Welcome Back!

Students have been learning a lot from their families, camps, and summer school programs throughout this summer. But August is here, and with it, the transition back to school. Getting back to a regular school structure and routine will take some adjusting to, especially with the inconsistency of learning last year. Luckily, there are steps you can take and resources to help you make this transition a smooth one, both in the school/ community setting as well as at home with students.

The four articles below highlight how STEPS partners are supporting transitions and getting the year started off right.
Sitka Youth Leadership Committee members. Photo: Emma Thompson
Authentic Relationships
with Students

Sitka Youth Leadership Committee (SYLC) members, youth leaders dedicated to promoting equity, diversity, and healthy relationships in Sitka and throughout Alaska, share that as students are returning to schools, they want adults to recognize the importance of listening to young peoples’ needs and supporting them.

Heather Lgeik’i Powell with her grandfather, Herman Davis
A Key Lesson from 2020:
Family Partnership

Best practices for learning have long suggested that students learn best when learning is reinforced and supported at home. 2020 really made sure that students and families stepped up to the challenge. School staff and families had to rely on each other and partner for student learning and well-being.

Students work on the community garden’s raised seedbeds. Photo: Sarah Israelson
Extending the Summer:
Place Based Learning

In Yakutat, many teachers, parents, and students wondered what activities would be available this year. Fortunately, this summer had no shortage of learning opportunities. Throughout the season, students had the opportunity to attend Culture Camp, Summer Explorers, Surf Camp, and get hands-on science practice with STEAM activities like stop motion animation and capillary action kits Students' minds were engaged the whole summer through hands-on and culturally grounded activities.

STEPS/CRESEL Trauma Engaged Community of Practice, June 2021, Methodist Camp, Juneau
Communities of Practice
and Professional Learning

"There have been many situations in my career as an educator that I have felt woefully underprepared for. At times, this vulnerability has paralyzed me and caused me not to grow. I came to realize, as a result of the reflections and peer support, that I didn’t have to be the all-knowing one. I just need to be willing to be a part of a team that will look at these important concepts and put them into action in our work with students and families”
- AK Middle School Counselor, participant in statewide trauma engaged learning community.

To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
Babies and young children learn an incredible amount just by being with us. Bring them along and share your stories, traditions & songs.

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

You are invited to the AlaskaCAN Quarterly Convening!
There are more jobs available than Alaskans ready to fill them, yet many students are not pursuing the college or career training that will prepare them for these opportunities. Please join the AlaskaCAN statewide network on postsecondary access in a conversation exploring barriers and strategies to support Alaskan students.

WHEN: September 27, 2021 3:00 - 5:00 PM AKST
TOPIC: Equity & Access: Removing Barriers to Postsecondary Education
Register in advance for this free Convening:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email
containing information about joining the Convening.
AlaskaCAN's last Convening in May was devoted to
Sharing Dual Credit Resources!

Please review the Dual Credit Resource List, add information to it,
and share with individuals who may find it useful.
Alaska’s Upcoming Youth Risk Behavior Survey
Helps Teens be Heard
Many high school students struggled with remote learning, missed opportunities and isolation from friends this past year. Following this hard pandemic year, it is more important than ever to understand the challenges teens face and how to help them. Schools, districts and organizations across the state will be addressing these challenges using information collected from the upcoming Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Typically, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey is given every two years in the spring of odd-numbered years. Due to challenges during the pandemic, the survey will be given the first semester of this fall.
Anonymous, Voluntary, Informed Participation
All steps are taken to ensure student privacy during the YRBS. Teachers or proctors of the survey follow strict guidelines and sign confidentiality agreements. Students do not sign their names or include any identifying information on the surveys. Parents and legal guardians must sign a permission form for students under age 18 to participate. Parents also have access to information about the survey. Every survey question is voluntary for students.
A survey for the state, by the state
The Alaska Youth Risk Behavior Survey team has worked with many school districts and community organizations to develop survey questions and priorities. This survey creates a snapshot of student experiences across Alaska, focusing on short- and long-term health trendsSurvey questions ask teens about their experiences in a wide variety of areas, like physical activity and nutrition, alcohol and drug use, and bullying. This information helps many people — like parents, schools, districts, communities, organizations, and elected representatives — identify top priority issues, direct resources, and create programs to improve the health of all Alaska high school students.
More Information
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.
National Poll Shows Voters Strongly Support Public Schools
National School Boards Action Center

The National School Boards Action Center today released a national public opinion poll on public education. You can access the poll by going directly to the NSBAC website at https://nsbac.org The findings are from a nationwide survey of 1,000 likely 2022 voters with oversamples of 100 African American, 100 Latinx, 100 AAPI, 100 Native American, and 100 parents of school-age children who are likely 2022 voters. The poll results are available to the public.

 Some highlights include:

  • Voters continue to value the job public schools are doing in their community with 55 percent rating them positively.
  • Learning loss among students due to the COVID-19 pandemic is a key priority, with 88 percent saying it is a problem, including 65 percent who say it is a "very big" problem.
  • 89 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of Republicans, and 70 percent of independents view easier access to technology and broadband as important. The largest obstacle for public school districts, named by 66 percent of voters as challenging, was having quality broadband and internet access at home to attend school online.
  • 59 percent of voters think funding for public schools should be increased. Of those who believe it should be increased, 86 percent would support an increase in funding even if it meant they would pay more in taxes.
  • 61 percent of voters say it is better to allocate funds to improving public education and schools, compared to only 18 percent who support vouchers to pay for students to attend private or religiously affiliated schools.
  • 74 percent say a lack of personalized learning focused on individual needs is a problem.

U.S. Department of Education Approves Alaska's Plan for Use of American Rescue Plan Funds to Support K-12 Schools and Students, Distributes Remaining $119 Million to State
US Department of Education
On Friday, Aug. 27, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the approval of Alaska's American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plan and distributed remaining ARP ESSER funds to them.
Alaska's plan details how the state is using and plans to use ARP ESSER funds to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and equitably expand opportunity for students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal infrastructure bill proposes billions of dollars for Alaska highways, ferries, broadband and sanitation projects
James Brooks and Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill under consideration in the U.S. Senate contains billions for Alaska projects, including top priorities like ferries, road construction and sanitation.
The latest federal infrastructure bill contains some $3.5 billion for Alaska highway funding. Photo: Marc Lester
State and local officials, as well as others familiar with Alaska’s infrastructure, said they’re still reviewing the 2,700-page proposal. But several interviewed Tuesday identified sections of the bill that pay for needed projects or address areas in need of funding.
“It makes a difference, it moves us forward, and hopefully significantly,” said Nils Andreassen, director of the Alaska Municipal League. “There will still be this real scramble to figure out. How do you prioritize everything? It probably ends up being something of a limited resource,” he said.

The bill came together last weekend with a bipartisan compromise that included Democrats, Republicans and President Joseph Biden. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was one of the key figures behind the bill, and she added several Alaska-specific provisions.

Alaska would receive billions under the current version of the bill to fill potholes and build roads, support the ferry system, improve water and sanitation systems and improve broadband capacity — among other projects.

Congressman Don Young Urges Alaskans to get Vaccinated
Congressman Don Young
Dear Alaskans,

I want to speak with you personally today about COVID-19 vaccines.
With the rise of the Delta variant, getting vaccinated is more important than ever. I got vaccinated, and I am urging you to do the same. I did it so that I can stay healthy and so that my family, friends, and staff are protected as well.

There is much misinformation out there, so let me be clear: these vaccines are safe, effective, and cost you nothing; I was proud to support their development in Congress.

Please share this message with a loved one who may still be undecided; it can help save a life.

To make your vaccine appointment, click here.


Don Young
Congressman for All Alaska

Governor, Chief Medical Officer Encourage Eligible Alaskans to Vaccinate, Students Return to In-Person Education
Office of the Governor
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Anne Zink, publicly encouraged every eligible Alaskan to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

The Governor, who contracted and recovered from COVID-19 in February 2021, made the decision to be vaccinated in June.

Alaska looks at replacing state testing assessment
KINY, Juneau
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has announced that they will be replacing the state's testing assessment PEAKS with a new test from the Northwest Evaluation Association or NWEA.

The current test, PEAKS, is a summative English language and math assessment for 3rd through 9th graders. The new assessment from NWEA aims to better reflect learning throughout the school year and target instruction to students’ individual needs.

New Study on School Districts’ Approaches to Providing Mental Health Supports and Services
Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority

The Alaska Mental Health Trust has released a landscape analysis of current mental health efforts in Alaska school districts. Every Alaska public school district was invited to participate in an interview. Thirty-one districts completed interviews, representing 91% of students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 as of October 2020.

Participants varied and included district leadership, counselors, social workers, and other staff supporting or with insights into district mental health services and supports. Interviews were conducted one-on-one or in small groups via Zoom between March and June of 2021.

The interviews focused on five areas of inquiry:
  • Student and staff mental health concerns
  • Foundational elements and general practices of supportive school climates
  • Mental health resources, services, and supports
  • Impacts, barriers, and challenges
  • Ideal systems and future impacts

Within the five areas of inquiry, subtopics covered the impacts of COVID-19, strengths of programs and supports, and application data to inform mental health efforts.

Census data ranks Alaska 49th among States for internet access needed for online learning
Clayton News-Daily
HeyTutor used the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, released on May 5, 2021, to rank the states according to which ones have the best internet access.

Photo: ST.art / Shutterstock
Amid pandemic, new options abound for homeschoolers
Elizabeth Earl, KDLL, Dillingham
Eva Knutson calls some of her boxes “boredom busters.” They look like they’d do the job, with topics like entomology, forensic science, and oceanography. They’re designed with instructions from start to finish, so parents can just unbox them and enjoy them with their kids, even if they don’t know much about entomology themselves.

Homeschooling can provide a lot of flexibility for parents and they. can find support through correspondence programs like Connections or IDEA, but it can still be daunting to come up with enough material to keep kids busy. That’s where businesses like Ms. Cuteson’s classroom comes in.
A flag advertises Ryan Martin's Explorations, LLC business during Progress Days on Saturday, July 24, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. Photo: Elizabeth Earl
Knutson said she was a classroom teacher before stepping away to be home with her young son, and now with the business doing well, will keep it going even as schools transition back toward what they looked like before the pandemic.

Three years in the making, Anchorage School District launches new third grade Alaska Studies curriculum
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media, Anchorage
Third graders across in the Anchorage School District have a brand new social studies curriculum. It’s a comprehensive look at Alaska Native history and culture.

The district said it’s a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Alaska Native stakeholders and cultural experts.

The book at the heart of the new curriculum is called, “The Nest Egg.” It features a third grade class that time travels to different points in history to learn about Alaska’s first peoples.

The Nest Egg is the Anchorage School District’s newest curriculum for third graders that was developed with Alaska Native cultural experts.
Photo Mayowa Aina
AFN will scope tribal compacting of education
The Cordova Times
A program is underway to find a practical legal pathway to partner the Alaska Federation of Natives with local school boards and communities in the area of public education, state education officials said.

AFN’s work will be funded by a $1 million grant through the Federal CARES Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. The grant period runs through June 20, 2022.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced his support of tribal compacting of education in his address to the AFN convention in October 2019. The grant was announced on July 15 by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

The agreement calls for AFN to identify relevant federal and state laws and regulations, to compile relevant material related to educating Alaska Native students, to engage with Alaska Native leaders and subject matter experts on educational compacting options and to design a comprehensive path forward.

International Researchers Look to Alaska’s “Transforming Schools Framework” for Case Study of Trauma-Informed Education
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development

A recent working paper authored by researchers at the American Institutes for Research and published by the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development provides an in-depth synthesis of existing research on improving education outcomes for students who have experienced adversity and/or trauma.

In their paper, the authors examined Alaska’s Transforming Schools Framework as one of five case studies that explored the role of the education sector in promoting well-being, learning, and positive educational outcomes for children who have experience adversity and/or trauma.

DEED began developing Transforming Schools: A Framework for Trauma-Engaged Practice in Alaska in partnership with the Association of Alaska School Boards and the Alaska Mental Health Board in 2017. The framework was developed with other partners including the First Alaskans Institute, Alaska Child Trauma Center, Alaska Department of Public Safety, Alaska Afterschool Network and hundreds of other Alaskans through various conferences and meetings. Funding for the framework came from a grant from the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council.

‘I thought my name was my number’: Survivors recount Alaska boarding school experience
Alaska Public Media staff
The recent discovery of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children at a residential school in Canada has prompted discussion, grief and memories of past trauma in Alaska.

Thousands of Alaska Native children were sent to boarding schools in and outside the state. The effects of forced assimilation continue to impact the lives of Native people.
Students stroll the sidewalk behind the Wrangell Institute school and dorms, looking south, probably in the early 1960s. The boys dormitory is at right, the school (with bell-tower) is left of center, and the girls dormitory is at the far left. (NPS Photo)
Two boarding school survivors, Jim Aqpayuk LaBelle and Fred John Jr., as well as cultural expert Paul Ongtooguk, shared their perspectives on Talk of Alaska with Lori Townsend.

New mural to honor Alaskan civil rights leader
Dana Zigmund, Juneau Empire
Soon, a new mural depicting Elizabeth Kaaxgal.aat Peratrovich, a Tlingit civil rights icon, will greet visitors approaching downtown Juneau by water.

Peratrovich, who was born in Petersburg and lived in Juneau, worked for equality for Alaska Natives and is best known for her 1945 speech to the territory Legislature that helped prompt an anti-discrimination law in Alaska almost 20 years before the federal government took similar steps.
Photo: Juneau Empire
The 60- by 25-foot mural is the work of Tlingit and Athabascan artist, designer, and activist Crystal Kaakeeyaa Worl. It will appear on the currently blank south wall of the Marine Parking garage, the structure on which the downtown branch of Juneau’s public library sits.

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.
Students across Alaska are heading back to school, most of them back to in-person learning, and under varied mask policies.

Most of the students, teachers, and staff in Alaska will go back to school wearing masks this year, with a few exceptions.
Tim Ellis, KUAC, Fairbanks

The Alaska Gateway School District plans to require facemasks when classes there begin, due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in Tok and other district communities. But officials with two other rural Interior school districts plan to only recommend, not require, facemasks, despite recent upticks in covid cases in those areas.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School Board accepted the school district’s plan to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for the upcoming school year, which includes a requirement for students and staff to wear masks indoors. With few exceptions, masks will be required for all people inside Anchorage School District buildings, and will be optional outdoors. The district will also continue regularly cleaning classrooms, buses and other facilities. Superintendent Deena Bishop cited both the rise of COVID-19 cases in Anchorage and the delta variant as reasons for the plan.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media, Anchorage

Six bus routes across the Anchorage School District will be temporarily suspended starting Monday because several bus drivers have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Anchorage School District said Friday.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

In Alaska, as with the rest of the U.S., many employers are struggling to find workers. And child care programs often have a hard time attracting and retaining staff due to low wages. The average wage for a child care worker in Alaska is $14.40 an hour, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Lauren Brant, Star-Herald, Nebraska

Chadron State College Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Powell said the college’s partnership with ASD was in response to the growing shortage of school administrators within the district. “To offset this negative trend, ASD worked with CSC to utilize the online Masters in Educational Administration program to develop a ‘grow your own’ school principal program,”
Kris Capps, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Denali Borough School Board voted this week to make masks optional for students and staff at Denali Borough schools for the coming school year.
Tyler Thompson, KDLG, Dillingham

Masks are required in public places, including businesses. That requirement does not extend to the Dillingham City School District's physical education courses or athletic activities.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A week into the 2021-2022 academic year and at least a handful of public schools have reported Covid-19 cases. Multiple letters to parents disclosing the cases have been shared with the News-Miner.
Maisie Thomas, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The 2021-2022 school year began on Wednesday for Fairbanks public schools, and, as is not unusual, there were complaints about bus delays.
Chilkat Valley News, Haines

The Haines Borough School District Board unanimously approved back-to-school plans that included universal face coverings for the start of the year and to reassess as risk levels change. The Haines Borough is still considered a high-risk community, said interim manager Alekka Fullerton. 47 active cases have resulted from community spread after an influx of people traveled to Haines to attend the state fair.
KINY News, Juneau

Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss while a guest on Action Line said that there are 24 people within their system who have tested positive. "It's important to remember that first of all we have over 4,000 kids plus about 700 staff so that's out of 47-hundred or so people," said Weiss.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

An additional personal day and new health care premium rates are among the proposed changes outlined in tentative agreements reached by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District with unions representing district teachers and district support staff. The bargaining agreements, if ratified, would be in effect from July 1, 2021 until June 30, 2024.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak Island Borough School District will start the school year off with a universal masking requirement in light of a new surge in COVID-19 cases, according to an update from Superintendent Larry LeDoux. "We are going to be requiring masks until the contagion and the Delta variant concern is reduced," LeDoux said Tuesday.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

The Kodiak Island Borough School District board approved the decision at a special meeting, after Superintendent Larry LeDoux explained added training is needed to help prepare for remote learning if a sharp increase in COVID cases forces the school district to go in that direction.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak Island Borough School District administrators and staff members hosted a 90-minute virtual event to address community submitted questions. The virtual event dealt specifically with COVID-19 preparations and mask mandate concerns as the district readies itself for the new school year.
Greg Kim, KYUK, Bethel

School starts next week in the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Joining us this morning are LKSD Superintendent Kimberly Hankins and KYUK’s Greg Kim.
Kaylee King, KYUK, Bethel

A new program from UAA is coming to Bethel this fall. Students who participate will earn high school and college credit. The goal would be to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, or even a bachelor’s degree, from the University of Alaska system. The program is called the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program Acceleration Academy. ANSEP is starting up the academy in Bethel in August 2021. Lower Kuskokwim School District students are able to participate this year.
Greg Kim, KYUK, Bethel

The Lower Kuskokwim School District has agreed to pay $3.8 million to settle a lawsuit. Attorneys for two girls had sued the district for failing to protect them from sexual abuse at the hands of Christopher Carmichael, 57, a former Bethel elementary school principal.
Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News

Just two days into the new year, there are already more than two dozen COVID-19 cases in Mat-Su schools. District officials did not initially require masking in buildings as the school year began this week, unlike Anchorage School District which is requiring face coverings inside school and on buses.
Miriam Trujillo, KNOM, Nome

Classes begin in person for all but one of the Nome and Bering Strait School District. Superintendent Jamie Burgess said that any school with less than an 80% vaccination rate will require universal masking.
Wesley Early, KOTZ, Kotzebue

The North Slope Borough School District has a new interim superintendent, after the departure of Pauline Harvey. As the district looks for a permanent replacement for Harvey, the school district has hired Rich Carlson to serve as interim superintendent. Carlson has more than 40 years experience as an educator in Alaska and has served as superintendent of the Klawock City School District and twice as the interim Haines Borough School Superintendent.
Robert Woolsey, KCAW, Sitka

Sitka Schools opened with a return to full, in-person learning for all students. Both the school district and the community remain on “high” covid alert, however, and all students were required to wear masks.
Maggie Nelson & Theo Greenly, KUCB, Unalaska

The City of Unalaska confirmed what it called a "widespread community exposure" of COVID-19, after identifying two new community acquired cases of the virus. Unalaska's schools will still open for classes, but district officials said that masks will be required at all times,
Wesley Early, KOTZ, Kotzebue

The Northwest Arctic Borough School District has implemented several policies to limit the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masks and socially-distanced desks. As school districts around the state debate over whether or not to mandate masks, superintendent Terri Walker says her district is opting for a more cautious approach.
Wrangell Sentinel

Wrangell’s new schools superintendent wants to provide students as many choices as possible for learning, though he acknowledges it’s hard for the small district to provide in-person teaching for every subject students may want. Over time, that may mean more online classes, led by instructors outside Wrangell, said Bill Burr, who took over as schools superintendent on July 1, moving to Wrangell from the Delta/Greely School District in the Interior.
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Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News

For the Soldotna High football team, the season is beginning with an unsettling, unwelcome sense of familiarity. Soldotna was scheduled to host West Valley on Friday, but coach Galen Brantley Jr. learned Wednesday night that West Valley couldn’t make the trip because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Anchorage Daily News

Nearly 200 runners from four Anchorage high schools opened the Cook Inlet Conference cross-country season Friday afternoon with a 3-kilometer race on somewhat muddy trails at Service High. They got a break from the rain and enjoyed some sunshine, even though parts of the trail challenged them with mud and puddles.
Greg Kim, KYUK, Bethel

“Students will wear masks during sports when they are not competing directly or actively engaged in practice or training. So, for example, in cross country, you know, masks are, of course, not recommended while running, but recommended at all other times during the event,” said LKSD Superintendent Kimberly Hankins. Students will be allowed to travel both in-region and out of the region for sports competitions as long as they are following each community’s local travel mandates.
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
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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!

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