Voices of Alaska Education      
 
          
Commentary
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
Lori Grassgreen, Director of Alaska ICE
Lon Garrison, School Improvement Coordinator
Let Your Policy Be
Your Guide
Board Policy is such a critical component of every school board, and one that every new and veteran board member must be cognizant of at all times.
Every district has signed onto board standards and strives to adhere to the principles contained in them.
Transforming School Policy
Many school districts across the state have been working to develop culturally responsive and trauma-informed schools to more effectively create optimal conditions for learning. Most districts, however, have not yet developed and adopted policies to support these practices within the district.   
3 Minute Read > 
Your Board Can Make a Difference
Take some time to think about your role on the board. Is your board work student-focused? Are your decisions making positive impacts on all of your students but especially those in most need? Can you find data that supports and informs your board with decision-making and accountability?
Timi Tullis is New AASB Associate Executive Director 
Timi Tullis
Timi Tullis caps her 17th year with AASB by being named Associate Executive Director. Timi started with AASB in the summer of 2001 and has since "found her home" within the organization. She enjoys traveling throughout Alaska and working with board members in every corner of the state. Her responsibilities include ensuring that boards have professional development opportunities to help them govern their districts knowledgeably. Timi's passion is training and facilitating groups; adults, youth or a combination of the two, and she specifically loves topics involving social justice and equity. She oversees AASB's annual conference, facilitates in-district workshops with school boards, charter school boards and advisory boards as well as leading districts or schools through the strategic planning process. Timi has an MA in Education from Michigan State University and loves her teams in Green!  
Diana Miller Promoted to AASB Director of Administration   
       Diana Miller in 2018 (left) and in 1988, her first year at AASB
On November 28, 2018, Diana Miller officially assumed a new position as the Director of Administration. Her career at AASB began as a clerk in 1988. She soon ascended to Business Manager, a position she has held for nearly 30 years. Diana's responsibilities will continue to include facilitating the creation and management of the budget, managing the financial aspects of grants, preparing financial reports, managing/reconciling bank accounts and credit cards, serving as the payroll officer, managing all HR functions, supervision of Business office staff, coordinating the annual audit, managing property inventory, and overseeing insurance coverage. Congratulations Di!
Workshop to Improve Education Advocacy Held 
By Emily Ferry, AASB STEPS Coordinator
Members of the advocacy panel included (left to right) Senator-elect and Juneau Assembly member Jesse Kiehl; AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten; Juneau School Board member Jeff Short; AEYC-SEA Child Nutrition & Community Engagement Coordinator Nikki Love; Dean of UAS English Department Kevin Maier. Photo: Lisa Worl
AASB's Norm Wooten joined Senator-elect Jesse Kiehl, Juneau School Board member Jeff Short, and others at a school advocacy workshop designed to inform parents, students, and community members about the school funding process, how the legislative process works, and how to effectively advocate for public education. Here are some highlights from the discussion:
Remembering Bettye Davis: Senator, School Board Member and Tireless Youth Advocate  
By Norm Wooten, AASB Executive Director  
Bettye Davis
Photo: Alaska Legislature
Any time we lose a friend it is in our nature to recollect that person's life and the impacts they might have had on us. As I reflect on the life of Bettye Davis, there are things I should have told her prior to her passing. My first meeting with her was as a "newbie" school board member in the office of Representative Bettye Davis in her Juneau office. Bettye and I had very different political beliefs, but it did not matter to her. She saw in me a kindred spirit in our passion for a great education for every child and in her eyes, that spirit transcended political affiliation. Nor did she care that I was not a constituent - only that I could be a partner in her quest to improve the lives of children.
Board Member Profile
Frankie Graham   
Chugach School Board Vice President
Frankie Graham
Each month Commentary features a different board member's story, as told in their own words. Many dedicated Alaskans from all walks of life have chosen to support their communities and youth by serving on a local school board. There is inspiration and fellowship in learning how a person's culture, life events, personal philosophies, influential teachers, or career choices have motivated them to serve. This month we profile Frankie Graham of Chugach School District.
 
Are you an Alaska school board member who would like to share your story in a future issue of Commentary? Complete our short survey >  
 
Partner Spotlight
   
Making Academics Training and Careers Happen
Getting from high schools to college and career can be difficult for students to navigate. STEPS partner school districts, the University of Alaska Southeast, the Central Council of Tlingit Haida Indians of Alaska are working with local businesses and organizations to make those pathways more straightforward and easier to follow. SERRC's MATCH program is one such example. MATCH (Making Academics Training and Careers Happen) allows students who have left high school to get up to speed academically so they're ready for college without having to spend thousands of dollars or precious student loans on remedial coursework. The nine week course met for at least four hours a day this past fall. Lessons ranged from math and English to employability skills and career exploration. SERRC will be offering the program again in March. Contact Jeffery Smith, jefferys@serrc.org, 907 523-7226 for more information.    

Guest Columns
Interrupting is not allowed at meetings
By Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, Jurassic Parliament  
Interrupting is one of the most common conversational gambits in our American society. It is not allowed at meetings run according to Robert's Rules of Order.
We see and hear interruptions all the time. Parents interrupt children; employers interrupt their subordinates, men interrupt women (and occasionally, though less often, women interrupt men). Let's put a stop to it!
Crisis Management: "Shaken - Not Stirred ...The Day the Open Meetings Act Collided with a 7.0 Earthquake"
By John Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
John Sedor
Part four of a series on Interacting with the Outside World - School District Style.
 
You are school board president enjoying a good cup of coffee from Kaladi Brothers on a recent Friday morning. As you sit down, you smile and say to the Superintendent "Let's Rock and Roll on this agenda." ... And then you do! What was once the solid world of floors, walls, and windows around you ... becomes oddly fluid. It's a 7.0 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter less than 8 miles away. As the Board Secretary crawls out from under the desk you ask that a Special Meeting be posted - and quickly. The Special Meeting is posted ... for 3 days later in order to comply with the Board Bylaw that requires 72 hours posting for a Special Meeting. Can anything be done? 
4 Minute Read >     
Sitka Fine Arts Camp: Values in Arts Education
By Kenley Jackson, Program Director, Sitka Fine Arts Camp
Kenley Jackson
It may seem like summer is far away, but at Sitka Fine Arts Camp, summer registration is right around the corner. On January 1st, kids from around the state stay up until midnight to secure their spot at camp. Last year over 350 kids registered on January 1st. Why is camp so popular with students? Here are some of the values that resonate:
Empower students to learn and lead with Alaska Close Up
By Jeff Smith, Alaska Close Up Coordinator, SERRC
Jeff Smith
Today's students are tomorrow's leaders and we don't have to wait until they're old enough to run for office or be appointed to a commission - or even vote - to send them to our Capital City. Alaska Close Up introduces students to their state government and their own duties as citizens "close up" when it really counts, when they're learning who they are and who they can become.There are opportunities for students in seventh through 12th grade to visit Juneau for a week long session to learn and gain hands-on experience through lessons based on local practices and issues, meetings with officials and mock hearings.
Don't leave students' career success to chance
By Karragh Arndt, Career Connections Coordinator, SERRC
Career Connections students get a taste of the nursing field at UAS
What do you want to be when you grow up? Some of us know from a young age exactly where we're headed, but most of us spend our young lives (or sometimes longer) learning what the right path might be. What we imagine for ourselves is often based on what we experience. Some children see astronauts on television and dream of going to space. Some children see the work their parents do and follow in their footsteps. Then there are the countless people who discover their path some other way - by chance or by design. Why leave it to chance?
Events



AASB 2019 Leadership Fly-In
& Youth Advocacy Institute

Join us for our first 2019 Fly-In to show that the unity of Alaska's School Boards can lead positive change by:
  • Build Boardsmanship Skills
  • Discuss key legislative issues
  • Meet with legislators
  • Learn how new legislation will affect your district.
Register students to attend 2019 Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) so they can:
  • Come together and learn from their peers
  • Build relationships with policymakers,
  • Gain advocacy skills
February 9-12, 2019
Juneau

 
AASB 28th Annual June Nelson  
Scholarship Competition

The Association of Alaska School Boards is proud to announce its 28th Annual Scholarship Award Competition.

This 2018-2019 school year, AASB will award fifteen $1,500 scholarships to apply toward post-secondary education. Thirteen of these scholarships are available for graduating seniors, and two may be awarded to returning college sophomores. The scholarship may be applied toward the student's choice of a business, trade, or a college institution.

Attention High School Seniors:
Don't Wait! Apply Now!

Application Deadline:
Midnight, March 25, 2019

Winners Announced:
Saturday, April 6, 2019
 
News
Dunleavy names two new Cabinet members, keeps education commissioner
By Erin McGroarty, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner  
Michael Johnson
Governor-elect Mike Dunleavy named two new Cabinet members Thursday, while making the choice Wednesday to retain current Education Commissioner Michael Johnson.
Dunleavy said he met with Johnson before making the decision. "We had a healthy discussion about needed improvements and shifting our focus to getting better results for students," Dunleavy said. "In the end, our priorities aligned, and we decided we could work together on changing how we deliver education in this state."
Copper River Superintendent Tamara Van Wyhe Accepts DEED Director Position 
Tamara Van Wyhe
Photo: CRSD
The CRSD Board of Education issued this special announcement: The Copper River School District Board of Education (BOE) would like to congratulate Superintendent Tamara Van Wyhe on accepting a director-level position with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, effective January 2, 2019. Mrs. Van Wyhe has served CRSD schools and students for 22 years as a teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, principal, district-level director, and superintendent. While we wish her the best in the new job, we are also sad to see her leave our district. Her excellent leadership will help benefit education statewide. The BOE will meet on December 10, 2018, to appoint an Interim Superintendent (effective early January 2019) and to discuss the process for a superintendent search.
Bessie Weston Appointed To LKSD Board
By Christine Trudeau, KYUK  
Bessie Weston of Mekoryuk has been appointed to the Lower Kuskokwim School District Board. Weston will fill Seat B, which was occupied by the late Jonathan Lewis of Chefornak. Lewis died this past October. In a recent meeting, the board reviewed several candidates and deliberated in a special executive session before appointing Weston and continuing with the meeting's agenda of reports and action items.
Anchorage School District releases school damage status list
By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News 
Damage at King Tech High School. Photo: Anne Raup, ADN
The Anchorage School District has released a list of the earthquake damage status of each of its 92 schools and facilities. School Superintendent Deena Bishop announced Sunday that school would be canceled for the week as the district continued the monumental task of cleaning up earthquake damage that touched nearly every facility in the district, ranging from spilled books and materials to flooding, fallen ceilings and structural damage. The color-coded list released Monday has three categories: green means the school is ready for staff to re-enter, yellow means the school is damaged and cleaning or repairs are in progress, and red means the school is seriously damaged and unsafe to enter.
Anchorage School Board votes to close one of three JBER elementary schools
By Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News 
Mt. Spurr Elementary School
Photo: Bill Roth
The Anchorage School Board voted Monday night to shutter Mount Spurr Elementary School, over the objections of parents who say the school on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is a treasured part of the military community.
The board voted 5-2 to close Mount Spurr at the end of this school year. Students from the school will attend either Orion or Aurora, both on the Elmendorf side of the base. About 250 students were enrolled at Mount Spurr as of late September.
Napakiak Erosion Part III: The School District
By Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK 
W. Miller Memorial School in Napakiak. Photo: Katie Basile
Napakiak needs a new school. The Kuskokwim River is less than 200 feet from the current building and the question is when, not if, the water will overtake the ground beneath it. The current school is too big and too old to move. When asked why the river is as close as it is to the school without any funding in place to design or build a replacement facility, Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Dan Walker said, "I think it comes down to priorities across the board." Those priorities, he says, belong to both the school district and to the state government.
2 Minute Read >

Enrollment drop pushes Sitka's schools into $100,000 deficit
By Robert Woolsey, KCAW
KCAW file photo
After an unanticipated enrollment drop this school year, the Sitka School Board will be forced to make a significant budget adjustment in January. District superintendent Mary Wegner told the school board at its regular December meeting (12-5-18), that the latest dip in enrollment coincided with the arrival of the Permanent Fund Dividend. "We have seen an exodus since the PFD checks have come out," Wegner said. "We are currently at 1204.5. It's not uncommon to see that exodus and it usually balances out a little bit."
1,204 students is 49 fewer than were in school in Sitka last April, and 38 fewer than the district's projections.
 2 Minute Read >
Fairbanks public school dress code under scrutiny 
By Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 
Spaghetti straps, lounge wear, hats and leggings without a dress or tunic are some of the clothing items prohibited under the school district's dress code. A spokeswoman for the district said the rules are under review. The dress code came up at the Nov. 6 school board meeting when two girls from North Pole Middle School testified. They said the dress code is outdated - leggings have become increasingly popular as pants these days - and that girls are flagged for dress code violations more often than boys. The student member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education, Alden Jerome, said the dress code is one of the top issues students bring to him.
3 Minute Read >
What's behind a wave of threats in Anchorage schools?
By Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media 
For weeks, Anchorage schools have been grappling with a wave of violent threats. Officials stress that while none of them have posed a real risk to public safety, they're being taken seriously. But there has been little offered about why the cluster of messages is happening all at once. Since early November, school threats have been in the news in Anchorage, trickling out in articles, segments and social media posts. "We don't have any information that these are linked, we're all treating these as separate investigations," said MJ Thim, communications director for the Anchorage Police Department.
Some Anchorage parents concerned about voting in schools
By Rebecca Palsha, KTUU Channel 2  
Photo: KTUU
At 9:05 a.m. the doors to most elementary schools in Anchorage lock. No one can get inside unless they are a parent, or the front desk buzzes a person through. That is, of course, unless it's Election Day. "This is one day of the year when we just have the doors flung wide open and anybody can wander," Lea Filippi, a Government Hill elementary parent, said. "My additional concern relates to just the use of the library. That means for a quarter, or a third of our students, that's just a week when they don't have access to their library time and that means they're not getting the instruction they would normally receive." After a series of threatening messages at Anchorage high schools, school security is a big topic among parents.
3 Minute Read >
Y-K Delta Boarding School Discovers Cheating On Math Program
By Christine Trudeau, KYUK 
Kuskokwim Learning Academy.
Photo: Dean Swope, KYUK
Students enrolled at the Kuskokwim Learning Academy, a Bethel-area alternative boarding school, were found to be cheating on their computer-based math curriculum. The problem was discovered after many students were tested in the fall and found to be below the pre-algebra level.
The school's new site administrator, Walt Betz, says that September's test scores were terrible. "We thought 'well, maybe the kids just weren't testing well,' but then we looked at other kids' scores over a long term period and noticed that students would come into our school with higher math scores than after they'd been here for a year," Betz said. "It was commonplace for kids, when they got something they didn't understand, that they would just Google it, and then it would show the answer, and then they would put the correct answer in the ALEKS question. And I think that was pretty widespread," said Betz.
Former hockey coach sentenced to 62 years in sex abuse case
By Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion 
Kenai Courthouse 
Photo: Peninsula Clarion
A Sterling resident and former Soldotna High School hockey coach was sentenced to more than 60 years in prison for sexual abuse of six minors and possession child pornography. Bradley Elliott, 57, pleaded guilty to 15 charges, including six charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one charge of possession of child pornography and eight charges of indecent photography, according to Kenai District Attorney Scot Leaders. 
Ketchikan School District teacher contract approved
By Leila Kheiry, KRBD 
Ketchikan teachers have a new three-year contract, about a year and a half after their previous contract expired.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School Board voted unanimously Thursday to ratify a tentative agreement reached in mid-November. The 6-0 vote did not include Board Vice President Kim Hodne, who resigned on Wednesday, citing his disagreement with the proposed contract. Before Thursday's vote, only two people spoke during public comment. Ketchikan Education Association President Meredith Lundamo thanked the board, and said she's proud of everyone involved in the negotiated agreement. "Ratification of this new contract will help us achieve our shared goal of attracting and retaining quality educators to KGBSD, which will ultimately enhance education for the 2,200 students in this district," she said.
LKSD's Eisen recognized with rural water system award
By The Delta Discovery 
Lower Kuskokwim School District
The Alaska Rural Water Association held its 20th Annual Training Conference from October 29 - November 1 at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel in Anchorage. A highlight of this event is the recognition of rural water systems, wastewater systems, and their operators for outstanding achievements. Award winners for 2018 include Ben Eisen with the Lower Kuskokwim School District. Eisen and LKSD were honored with the Wastewater Operator of the Year - Under 1,000 Population.
2 Minute Read >
Articulation agreement between APU and Iļisaġvik College grows educational opportunities in Alaska
By Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium    
Photo: Alaska Native  
Tribal Health Consortium
In a move that will expand educational opportunities in our state, Alaska Pacific University (APU) has renewed its articulation agreement with Iļisaġvik College. This collaboration will allow for students to complete coursework at either school and transfer to the other. Building on the strategic partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, APU recently reported record enrollment of Alaska Native and American Indian students for its Fall 2018 semester . Currently, Iļisaġvik College is the only federally recognized Tribal college in Alaska.
 
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings

Superintendent/CEO/COO/CFO
Copper River School District 
 
The Board of Education of the Copper River School District is conducting a search for a CEO/CFO/Superintendent.
Applicants who will stand out are those with successful managerial experience and those that truly care about all students. The leader need not have work experience in education but must bring a passion for students and learning. The board is especially interested in a leader with high integrity who has proven experience as a manager, team leader, as well as someone who has experience in budget development, human resources and will put students first in all decisions. A successful candidate should be creative, honest, motivated, energetic, and understand that the classroom of the future look vastly different than those of the past, and is willing to do things differently so to reach all students.
 
The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is facilitating the search.
 
Search Timetable:
All applications will be acknowledged. The Board will review all applications and select a limited number of candidates to interview. Interviews for finalists will be conducted in the district the week of February 18, 2019.
  • Job announcement: December 17, 2018
  • Application deadline: January 25, 2019
  • Selection of finalists: February 4, 2019
  • Interviews with the board in the district: Week of Feb. 18, 2019
  • Employment begins: July 1, 2019
The following items must accompany all applications:
  • Confidential placement file including academic transcripts
  • Confidential AASB reference forms (available online)
  • Current resume
  • Superintendent Endorsement certificate copy or the willingness to obtain one
Application Materials should be sent to:
Association of Alaska School Boards
1111 W. 9th St., Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 463-1660  
Email:   khultengren@aasb.org 
 
More Information: 
 
Please visit the Association's website at aasb.org for additional information about this search and required application materials.  
 
Lon Garrison ( lgarrison@aasb.org  ) and Timi Tullis ( ttullis@aasb.org  ) will serve as the AASB consultants for the Copper River School District superintendent search.


Superintendent
Yupiit School District 
 
The Yupiit Board of Education desires a superintendent that understands, appreciates and will be involved in our local Yup'ik culture. The Board seeks a superintendent that will work to build trusting, positive relationships with employees, regional board members, local advisory board members, and all stakeholders in the three villages of the district (Akiachak, Akiak, and Tuluksak).
 
The applicant will recognize and have experience with the uniquely important role of village school principals and their associated local advisory boards and work to support their success in effectively educating Yupiit students who are connected to their local culture and traditions. The Board is seeking an individual that has demonstrated experience with effective and uniquely appropriate ways of measuring student growth and proficiency that recognizes the learning styles and cultural qualities of indigenous people.
 
The ideal candidate will be adept and experienced in working with federal, state and local agencies including our tribal governments in a collaborative fashion that promotes meeting the needs of Yupiit student success and academic achievement.
 
The Board is willing to offer a competitive salary in the $120,000 - $130,000 range (DOE) for a 260-day contract. A comprehensive benefits package with 30 days of paid vacation, family medical insurance, life insurance, and a relocation package are available.

The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is facilitating the search.   
 
Search Timetable:
  • Application deadline: January 28, 2019
  • Selection of Finalists: February 8, 2019
  • Interviews in Akiachak: Feb 18 - 20, 2019
  • Employment begins: July 1, 2019 
Application Materials should be sent to:
Association of Alaska School Boards
1111 W. 9th St., Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 463-1660  
Email:   khultengren@aasb.org 
 
More Information: 
 
Please visit the Association's website at aasb.org for additional information about this search and required application materials.
 
Lon Garrison ( lgarrison@aasb.org  ) and Timi Tullis ( ttullis@aasb.org  ) will serve as the AASB consultants for the Yupiit School District superintendent search.


Superintendent
Delta/Greely School District 
 
The Board of Education of the Delta/Greely  School District is conducting a search for a Superintendent. The successful candidate will be community oriented and willing to become an active and integral part of the Delta/Greely communities. S/he will keep the success of all students in the forefront of all decisions. The successful individual will have a strong background in fiscal management as well as familiarity of special educational best practices.  Candidates with demonstrated ability to lead a veteran team and board are highly desirable.   
 
The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is facilitating the search.   

Projected Search Timetable  
All applications will be acknowledged. The Board will review all applications and select a limited number of candidates to interview onsite. 
  • Closing date for all application material: January 31, 2019.  
  • Interviews for finalists conducted in the district: Week of March 4, 2019 
  • New superintendent begins work: July 1, 2019. 
The following items must accompany all applications:
  • Confidential placement file including academic transcripts
  • Confidential AASB reference forms (available online)
  • Cover letter 
  • Current resume
  • Copy of Alaska Type B Certificate with a superintendent endorsement OR verification that the candidate has the necessary credentials to obtain such certification
Application Materials should be sent to:
Association of Alaska School Boards
1111 W. 9th St., Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 463-1660  
Email:   khultengren@aasb.org 
 
More Information:
 
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 >
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