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.
December 2020
Moving Forward, AASB and Post Pandemic Education
Lon Garrison, Incoming AASB Executive Director
It is almost the new year, and I think we can all agree that we are ready to see 2020 move into the history books. It has undoubtedly been one of the most tumultuous years Alaskans have ever seen, let alone the rest of the country. However, with the change of the new year, we have hope, and we have a chance to do better.
Lon Garrison
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit nearly every aspect of our lives in some way, but one of the hardest-hit systems has been education. Overnight, it forced us to move to remote learning as a primary delivery technique. We quickly learned that some of our districts were more prepared and capable of doing this than others for various reasons. We learned more about the tremendous inequities in access for distance learning and not just in rural Alaska, where connectivity is so limited, but also within our larger, more urban communities. We learned that many children are not served appropriately without in-person contact and that it is impossible to replace that human connection. We learned there is no single "right" answer to address every child's educational needs in our state. Most importantly, we learned how vital and necessary public education is to our society, our economy, and our personal well-being.

As I prepare to become the next executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, I will look to our past, especially 2020, as a pivot point for Alaska public education. 

‘Life Lesson’ Movies to Stimulate Healthy Family and Classroom Discussions
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director
During a breakout room at the Fall Academy, one group was discussing how cooking, hunting, fixing a 4 runner or car have all become ‘classroom lessons’ for their kids/youth. School board members said that as the weather is turning and the days are getting shorter they wondered what movies might be good to watch that might have a lesson. I told them I would dig into the topic and try to come up with a list worth sharing.
Timi Tullis
I took the opportunity to ask friends near and far what movies they would suggest watching that include some life lessons, and that would allow for good, healthy discussions and an opportunity to use movies for teachable moments. Boy did I get some ideas! 125 of the movie suggestions I received are listed at the following link.

May Your (Modified) Seasonal Traditions Continue

Like all other "previously in-person" AASB events this year, the pandemic did not prevent our annual holiday party from going on anyway, although in virtual form. Timi delivered goodies and sparkling cider to the doorsteps of the entire staff, each of us donated fun (and funny) items for an online version of our traditional "white elephant" gift exchange, and Zoom brought us all together for some much-needed mirth and merriment in the midst of a very challenging 2020.

It has been a time of abrupt transitions, radical adaptations, and creative solutions. Our sincere thanks to board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, school staff, and community members for rallying to support the students and families of your district. We hope you will be able to take some well-earned down time to recharge in preparation for the work still ahead. May your seasonal traditions continue—even if in a modified style—and your time spent connecting with family, friends, and loved ones be meaningful.

The AASB office will be closed from December 24 thru January 2, 2021. Following this brief respite, we'll be back refreshed, energized, and ready to continue assisting school districts in serving Alaska's students. Stay safe and have an enjoyable winter break.
20 Minutes of Christmas Cheer!

Speaking of adapting seasonal traditions, please enjoy this video of the Wrangell Public School District K-12 students performing music for their Annual Christmas Concert. Due to COVID-19 they went digital this year, and these young musicians rose to the occasion to deliver a big dose of virtual holiday joy!

Thanks to Superintendent Dr. Debbe Lancaster for sharing this video, and to the elementary, middle, and high school students and their music teacher Tasha Morse for providing a great example of resiliency during a challenging year! 
Cooking with kids can be a great time to talk, laugh, and teach new skills. And when things don't go as planned? Use it a chance to model how to stay calm and try again.

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

'Rain or Shine' messaging campaign supports families, caregivers with
early childhood best practices
Emily Ferry, AASB Collective Impact Coordinator
Being “ready for school” is one of the most significant predictors of later school success. But how do we help young children prepare?

The good news is that a child’s brain is wired to learn. Even better news; parents and other adults in a child’s life can help foster neural connections and the development of strong social and emotional skills like persistence, curiosity, and self-regulation that help form the foundation for future learning.
Emily Ferry
But it’s not always apparent to parents and other adults how they can help a child develop these skills. As every new parent quickly discovers, their little ones don’t come with a user’s manual.

Attention High School Seniors:

Apply Now for the
June Nelson Scholarship!
The Association of Alaska School Boards is proud to announce its 30th Annual Scholarship Award Competition!
The June Nelson Memorial Scholarship is named in honor of the late June Nelson, longtime school board member from Kotzebue. June contributed much to the cause of education and will be remembered for her outstanding service on behalf of Alaska's children.

This 2020-2021 school year, AASB will award fifteen graduating seniors each with a $1,500 scholarship to apply toward their post-secondary education. The scholarship may be applied toward the student's choice of a business, trade or a college institution.

Transforming Education Through Connections was AASB's Annual Conference theme this year. In 2020, social distancing and school closures have made person-to-person connections difficult. How has your education been transformed and how have you, and those around you, adapted to maintain personal connections that support your learning?
Monday, March 8, 2021 at 11:59 pm
Annual Conference Resources

If you missed a session or weren’t able to attend the conference, all slideshows and other public resources are available on the AASB website.
Registered attendees can also access recorded video of conference sessions, including keynote addresses by Kameron Perez-Verdia and William Parrett, though January 31, 2021. Use the password in the email you received post-conference to access the video recordings. If you need assistance locating the password, email AASB or call 907-463-1660.
School Law & Policy Day
The Pandemic for Which There is No Vaccine
Understanding the Parameters of
Sexual Boundary Violations in Schools
Attorney John Sedor of Sedor Wendlandt Evans & Filippi facilitated a day of presentations by experts in the legal and psychological aspects of child sexual abuse, and proactive steps school boards can take to prevent its occurrence in schools.

One presenter noted that while Alaska has the highest rates of child sexual abuse in the nation, the problem is even more pervasive than usually believed. Incidents often go unreported, leading to long lasting damage to the victims.
Another point made was that the stereotype of a “stranger in a trench coat on a playground” is often a myth. Offenders are oftentimes difficult to detect, and most of them you would never suspect. They oftentimes do not act impulsively but instead “groom” their victims over time to develop trust and dependence before abuse occurs.

In the majority of cases, the offender is known to the victim, and is someone who has had regular and repeated access to the child.
John Sedor
Offenders seek work in places of high status that give them access to victims. Districts must be aware of how abusers groom their victims because teachers, coaches, and other school staff have the most access to children and are in positions of authority and mentorship.
Board members have an obligation to be aware of the risks of school-based sexual boundary violations, have clear policies and staff professional development opportunities in place to create a school culture that is safe for students, and know how to respond effectively if an incident of abuse does occur.
Throughout the day, presenters addressed four primary components for understanding and combatting child sexual abuse:
•          How a victim’s boundaries are invaded by grooming.
•          How to report boundary concerns.
•          What boundary investigations look like.
•          Identifying and closing structural gaps in your organization.
School Law & Policy Day
The Shapes and Sizes of Boundaries: Part 1 - Grooming
Dr. Michelle Yep-Martin
Psychologist Dr. Michelle Yep-Martin began the day by explaining how a sex offender works to weaken and eliminate the boundaries of their victims through a grooming process. Abusers frequently target students who don’t have adequate support or are emotionally vulnerable.
Dr. Michelle Yep-Martin
Grooming methods include becoming a confidant, giving extra time to a student to make them feel special, giving gifts, complimenting a student to appeal to their lack of self-esteem, grooming parents to avoid suspicion, and introducing non-threatening touch.

The Shapes and Sizes of Boundaries: Part 2 - Boundary Violations that Require Reporting
Betsy Bull, Alaska Assistant District Attorney
State of Alaska Assistant District Attorney Betsy Bull has prosecuted dozens of child sexual abuse cases. Sex abuse is wildly under reported, she said, and Alaska school districts are on the front lines of combating it.
Betsy Bull
The median age of female victims statewide is 17 years old (most common age: 15), and male victims 12 (most common age: 4). This means most sex abuse victims are in the school system. Sex offenders often don’t stand out, so districts need to be acutely aware of what to look for. The best tool is reporting what you observe.

Don’t step on my toes:
Boundary Investigations
Allen Clendaniel, of Sedor Wendlandt Evans & Filippi
Allen Clendaniel delved into the mechanics of how a child sexual abuse investigation should be conducted, and who conducts it. Once a boundary incident is suspected, the following steps should be taken:
Allen Clendaniel
  1. Report it to law enforcement and OCS. 
  2. Notify the district’s insurance carrier.
  3. Place the suspect on administrative leave with pay.

That Would Never Happen to Us: Structural and Organizational Gaps that Can Create Boundary Claims
Clinton Campion, of Sedor Wendlandt Evans & Filippi
Clinton Campion focused his presentation on three primary areas: sexual abuse civil lawsuits that have been filed in Alaska and nationally, the elements of a civil lawsuit against a school district, and recommendations on how to close structural and organizational gaps within your district.
Clinton Campion
Mr. Campion began by citing recent sexual abuse lawsuits involving teachers and students in Alaska school districts, as well as case studies involving in-state and national organizations that covered up child abuse. He said many school districts across the country face lawsuits for failing to respond and showing reckless indifference to sexual abuse claims.

Policies are Necessary, But Not Sufficient
Lon Garrison, AASB and John Sedor, of Sedor Wendlandt Evans & Filippi
Lon Garrison urged board members to develop a clear understanding of school-based sexual boundary violations and implement policy to address it, to protect children and the district. AASB has worked on policy addressing Professional Boundaries of Staff with Students that is now available, and has already been adopted by some districts.

Attorney John Sedor said that adopting AASB policies is necessary, but that’s not all that needs to happen. Recurring training is also essential.
John Sedor and Lon Garrison
Board members are by definition a “lay board,” meaning they don’t have to be experts. However, just because you don’t have to know about something, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know. The more you know, the better you will be able to ask the right questions.

Equity and Policy
Lon Garrison and Lisa X’unyéil Worl, AASB
Lisa Worl began the presentation with a definition of what equity is not: deficit thinking. The key to improving academic outcomes is not fixing the student, she said, but fixing the system so it provides an opportunity for the student to succeed. To illustrate this point, she shared a quote from Zaretta Hammond, author of Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain:

“When operating from a deficit thinking paradigm, educators and policy makers believe that culturally and linguistically diverse students fail in school because of their own deficiencies or because their families don’t value education, not because of social inequalities, unfair school policies, or differential treatment in the classroom.”

Lisa X’unyéil Worl and Lon Garrison
School Law & Policy Day
Free Professional Boundaries Policy

AASB has worked closely with the Professional Boundaries Task force to develop a Professional Boundaries of Staff with Students policy, Administrative Regulation, and support materials. It has already been adopted by some districts.

To help protect your students, families, and district,
we urge your board to adopt this free Professional Boundaries policy:

AASB has also partnered with APEI to develop professional boundaries training opportunities for both school staff and board members that will be available soon.
For more information on the policy or training opportunities, contact Lon Garrison.
Report Child Abuse & Neglect

Child Abuse Hotline
Fax: 907-269-3939
Mandatory Reporting App
The Office of Children's Services Mandatory Reporting App provides mandatory reporters with contact information for the specific law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction at any given location within Alaska.
Slideshows & Videos

If you missed a session or weren’t able to attend the School Law & Policy Day, all slideshows, video recordings, and other resources are available on the AASB website.
Executive Administrative Assistants Training
Executive Administrative Assistants Training

Nearly 30 participants from districts across the state gathered virtually for this year’s Executive Administrative Assistants Training December 10, to connect, learn, and share ideas with colleagues.
The group included a few board members and superintendents looking to pick up new efficiencies to implement in their districts. Administrative assistant attendees ranged from 30 years to 4 days of service, and the sessions included something for every experience level.
The day’s presentations focused on five topics:
•      Human Resources
•      School Board Elections
•      Keeping Track of Board Policy
•      Parliamentary Procedures
•      Recording and Keeping Track of Minutes

During each of these sessions, executive admins shared how they did each of these tasks and compared notes.

The day concluded with a Sharing/Solution Room where attendees gathered in small groups to discuss issues that were on top of their mind. "The sharing and being able to ask questions was the most useful,” one attendee noted.
To strengthen connections between Executive Administrative Assistants, ongoing check-ins/meet-ups will be scheduled in the new year.
Executive Administrative Assistants Training
Recruitment and Selection of Employees, Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Carleen Mitchell, PHR, SHRMCP, Deputy Director, Alaska Public Entity Insurance
Ms. Mitchell began her two-part presentation by discussing the human resource challenges involved with filling a job position in a small community. It is important to have a clear policy and a process for recruitment and selection, she said. If the policy is followed consistently, it will make the process easier.
Carleen Mitchell
She also provided an overview of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA ), which requires school districts to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Act is set to expire at the end of December, but it may be reauthorized and extended.

School Board Elections, Keeping Track of Board Policy
Lon Garrison, AASB
In a two-part presentation, Lon Garrison explained the mechanics of school board elections and process of filling a vacancy, and the purposes of board policy.
Lon Garrison
Using AASB's Policy Online service as a guide, he walked through the qualifications for school board candidacy, which include:
  • US citizen
  • 18 years of age or older
  • registered voter
  • resident of a district for 30 days
  • no felony convictions or a court finding of incompetency

The second part of his presentation focused on the purpose of policy, the process by which it is developed, how AASB can support district policy making, and helping Executive Administrative Assistants understand their roles in relation to policy.

Parliamentary Procedures
Timi Tullis, AASB
In her presentation on Robert’s Rules survival tips, Timi Tullis covered some parliamentary procedure basics, as well as a few mistakes commonly made when using it. Topics included the roles and responsibilities of the board chair, steps for handling a motion, and actions that can be taken on a main motion.
Timi Tullis
Parliamentary procedure is designed to facilitate business, she said, not complicate it. The rules were originally designed for governing the English Parliament, and were informally used in early American societies. In 1876, Henry M. Robert compiled the basic rules in a “pocket manual” that became known as Robert’s Rules.

Taking and Recording Minutes
Jenni Lefing, AASB & Sharon Waldo, Delta Greely School District
The presenters began by asking the administrative assistants in attendance to answer a question: What two people who must be present to hold a valid meeting? The answer, they said, is the board chair and the board secretary to take the meeting minutes.

Attendees were then asked, why take meeting minutes? Their answers included, to document history, to capture an official record of action taken, and for legal protection if needed, and that it is required by state law.
Jenni Lefing & Sharon Waldo
According to Robert’s Rules, the purpose of meeting minutes to record the actions taken by the body. Meeting minutes should record what is DONE, not what is SAID.

Executive Administrative Assistants Training
If you missed a session or weren’t able to attend the Executive Administrative Assistants Training session, all slideshows, video recordings, and other resources are available on the AASB website.
Upcoming Events
Get ready for the new year!
Attend these FREE webinars on key topics for 2021
January 14, 6:30-7:30 pm
Effective Advocacy with the 32nd Alaska State Legislature
Norm Wooten, AASB & Dr. Lisa Parady, ASA
The upcoming legislative session will bring a considerable number of changes. Education advocates must understand the process and be prepared to advocate for their students. This session will help prepare you for the 32nd legislature.

January 19, 6:30-7:30 pm
New Laws & Regulations In Alaska
Michael Caulfield, JDO, Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens, P.C.
Michael Caulfield is a lifelong Alaskan and an education attorney at the law firm of Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens. Each year, his firm prepares revisions to AASB’s model policies to keep them up to date with current education law. Michael’s presentation will cover the new laws and regulations that have been adopted during 2020 at both the state and federal level, and provide a preview of what AASB’s 2021 yearly policy update will include.

January 26, 6:30-7:30 pm
Stronger Together: Linking Learning to Family, Community and Place
Lori Grassgreen, AASB
Now more than ever families are a foundation for children's learning. Family partnership becomes an equity issue and a necessity. Covid-19 provides an opportunity for families and schools to redefine roles and to more effectively link learning to both families and place. Families can help ignite and reinforce learning. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss how educators and school staff incorporate these principles into their practice.

2021 Alaska SCCS
Schools are looking quite different this year. But no matter what shape learning is happening your district- on-line, in -person, or blended, it is essential for students, staff and families to feel safe and connected.
We invite your district to join the over 30 school districts that participate each year in the School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS). This survey is an opportunity to collect and use school climate data to improve and strengthen school environments, relationships, and connections between students, staff and families. This year’s statewide survey window is January 19 - March 26.

For the 2021 school year, additional questions are being added to better understand the needs of students, staff, and families during COVID-19.

For more information and to register, click here:
Contact Jenni Lefing with any questions.
AASB Virtual Leadership & Legislative Academy
and Youth Advocacy Institute

February 6-7, 2021
The leadership day will be focused on providing crucial training on being a school board leader during these times

The legislative day will inform you of what's happening in the legislature this session, and provide opportunities for school boards to develop talking points for this year’s legislative priorities to speak with a unified voice to advocate for public education. 
This year’s Youth Advocacy Institute will be an opportunity for  students to connect with peers from across the state, and their School Boards. Students will build and use their skills to advocate during this year’s Alaska State Legislature. 

Registration will open in January. For more information and updates, visit aasb.org
NSBA is pleased to announce the transformation of its in-person NSBA 2021 Annual Conference & Exposition to the NSBA 2021 Online Experience. This experience will bring world-class programming, inspirational keynotes, top education solution providers, and plentiful networking opportunities. Join us on April 8-10, 2021, for a fully transformed and memorable event!
Table, Postpone, or Postpone Indefinitely
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
The motion “To Lay on the Table” is commonly shortened to “Table.” This is a motion that is often misused.
The correct use of this motion is to put a Main Motion aside for a short while because some other more urgent business has arisen. It can only be made once a Main Motion is actually under consideration, and you can’t table a whole class of business.

The motion is commonly stated like this:

Ask AASB: What is the difference between Tabling, Postponing, Reconsidering and Rescinding a motion?
  • Table is for temporary delay (same meeting) If the tabled item is not brought back before the close of the following meeting, technically it dies.— 
  • Postpone is for delaying to a future meeting—
  • Reconsider has to be done within 24 hours—
  • Rescind anytime if no action has taken place
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at ASK AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Lon Garrison.
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.
UAA Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Bruce Schultz will serve as the university’s interim chancellor, Alaska’s university system president announced Wednesday.

Schultz, selected by Interim UA President Pat Pitney, will take the helm as UAA’s interim chancellor beginning January 4.
Bruce Schultz
Photo courtesy UAA
The pandemic’s economic impact is playing out in Alaska’s schools this year as fewer high school seniors are applying for college financial aid. Just 11.5% of the state’s 2021 senior class had applied as of Dec. 4 — a rate that is the lowest of any state in the nation.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, opened for submission in October. Seniors typically apply in the fall and winter months ahead of submitting college applications. FAFSA opens access for students to federal and state grants, state- and college-specific scholarships and federal loans.
Next fall, Noorvik’s own Wilfried Zibell will head to the University of Oxford in England to study colonization and its economic impacts on subsistence economies in rural Alaska.

Zibell was recently selected to be a Rhodes Scholar from nearly 1,000 applicants across the United States. The Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most selective in the world, is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford.
Wilfried Kuugauraq Zibell,
Harvard University Class of 2021
Photo: Kris Snibbe
A senior at Harvard University, Zibell grew up in the roughly 650-person town of Noorvik. Though not Iñupiaq, he was raised hunting, trapping and fishing alongside his community members.
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School in the Sitka School District and Knik Elementary from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District have been named National ESEA Distinguished Schools by the Department of Education and Early Development, Alaska Education Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson announced.
Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary was recognized for exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years. Knik Elementary was recognized for excellence in serving special populations of students.
This piece is part of “Dear Adult Leaders: Listen to Youth,” a produced in collaboration with America’s Promise Alliance to elevate student voices in the national conversation as schools and districts navigate how to educate our country’s youth in a global pandemic.
Nyché Tyme Andrew.
Photo courtesy Nyché Tyme Andrew
Dear school board members of the Anchorage School District,

The Anchorage School District must stop pressuring families and students to return to school during a pandemic. I am currently a senior and have always dreamt of the day I get to graduate high school, making my family proud as I take this next step in my life. I cannot have that if our community is too hasty to succumb to the allure of normalcy. Instead, ASD must focus on providing every student the materials they need to be successful this year as well as include the wisdom of our teachers, principals and staff when making decisions that come at the cost of lives.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday proposed a budget that would cut state spending on government services, but would also pay out nearly $5,000 in Permanent Fund dividends.
The proposal relies on drawing from the Alaska Permanent Fund’s earnings to pay for most of state government and to pay two PFD payouts. The total draw of $6.3 billion is more than twice the amount allowed under state law.
Gov. Dunleavy
In his budget proposal unveiled on Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy allotted about $51 million to run state ferries. It’s actually slightly more than he initially proposed last year. But it’s much less than historically appropriated to the fleet.

Lawmakers weren’t comfortable with Dunleavy’s budget last year. They added about 25% more to the budget to reduce service gaps. But the governor erased most of the extra funds with a stroke of his veto pen.

Now, he’s proposing to run the ferries with $2.4 million less than he ultimately signed off on last year.
The state ferry Columbia in 2018. Photo: Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News
The Alaska State Troopers are suspending the search for two Haines residents who went missing after a massive landslide destroyed their home on Beach Road.

Local business leader David Simmons and his tenant, Jenae Larson, a kindergarten teacher in town, have been missing since the landslide on Beach Road.
Jenae Larson and David Simmons. Photos courtesy families of David Simmons and Jenae Larson
Alaska State Trooper Nick Zito said the weather has been a huge impediment to the search. Teams have been able to fly over the debris pile and comb the beaches, but the slide has been too unstable to search on foot.
The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the Arctic Education Alliance, a new education partnership between organizations and universities in the United States and Greenland. The Alliance will build vocational education programs that support training in sustainable tourism, hospitality, and land and fisheries management in Greenland.
Photo: US Department of State
The Department will support the Alliance by providing approximately $1.8 million through a cooperative agreement awarded to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which was chosen after a competitive selection process.
On a tiny speck of a frozen runway on the north bank of the Yukon River, nearly a hundred miles northwest of Fairbanks, Christmas was delivered in a most unusual way.An Alaska National Guard helicopter descended through a rotor-whipped cloud of snow in Stevens Village, a tiny community of about 30 people.

Townspeople rushed to the airstrip on their snowmobiles after seeing the helicopter land and then watched as Guardsmen wearing flight helmets unloaded boxes containing wrapped gifts for just about everyone in the community.
Sgt. Caleb Henry, Alaska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk Crew Chief, serves as an elf to deliver packages as a part of the 65th annual tradition of Operation Santa Claus. Photo: U.S. Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
Then they flew off.

This year’s edition of Operation Santa Claus didn’t have the pomp and grandeur of previous incarnations, but the mission of delivering gifts here and two other largely Alaska Native villages was completed with COVID-19 safety precautions in place.
An Alaska-based theater company is putting a Tlingit twist on a holiday classic. From the opening carol, viewers will notice a particular Southeast Alaska flavor to “A Tlingit Christmas Carol.”

The production is five roughly 20-minute episodes, or “staves,” livestreamed through Perseverance Theatre’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, each Friday until Christmas Day, Dec. 25. It will remain available to stream until Russian Orthodox Christmas in January 7.
A screen shot from the first stave of “A Tlingit Christmas Carol” highlights a mostly Indigenous cast, including (left) Erin Tripp (Tlingit) playing Roberta Cratchit, (top) Isabelle Star Leblank (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota) as Freda, and Ed Littlefield (Tlingit), as E.B. Scrooge. (Perseverance Theatre)
Alaska School District 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.
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School District is projecting a $28 million budget shortfall for the upcoming 2021-22 school year, partly because so many students have left the district after schools shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a large enough gap that a shrunken budget and job cuts will be on the table as the school board begins the budgeting process in January.
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School Board on Tuesday passed a memorandum that directs the superintendent not to postpone current plans to begin reopening schools in January. It also passed a resolution asking the city to prioritize the superintendent’s plan to phase students back into schools before it relaxes current COVID-19 restrictions. Both the resolution and the memorandum aim to address the fact that public schools have largely remained closed to in-person learning during the pandemic while the rest of the community, including businesses, day cares and private schools, have continued to function.
Eric Stone, KRBD, Ketchikan

The school board for the community of Craig dramatically raised the number of COVID-19 cases it would take to trigger a move to distance learning on Wednesday. Some teachers in the rural Prince of Wales Island community say the decision is arbitrary and unnecessarily puts them at risk. Craig’s school board got an earful at its most recent meeting. Residents told the board they weren’t happy with the district’s move to all-distance education as COVID-19 cases spiked on the island.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

All students who wish to learn in a classroom with their teachers will be back in school by February 1 under a plan approved by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education.
Peter Segall, Juneau Empire

The Juneau School District released a schedule Tuesday for when students can return to in-person learning in January.
The district returns from winter break January 7, and under the new schedule kindergarten and first grade would return to classrooms on January 11. That is also when students in sixth through 12th grade would resume in-person learning. Second and third grades would return Jan. 19, and fourth and fifth grades would resume in-person learning on Jan. 25,
Sabine Poux, KDLL, Dillingham

Half the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will be back in schools five days a week as early as January 19. It’s something many parents in the district have been pushing for since classes went remote in October. But representatives said teachers and support staff are split on bringing thousands of students back as the virus intensifies locally.
Eric Stone, KRBD, Ketchikan

Schools on Prince of Wales Island are moving to partial or full distance learning as cases on the island rise. That’s in contrast to some Ketchikan schools, which are preparing to resume full-capacity classes.
Andrew Kenneson, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s newly released proposed budget for the coming fiscal year has good news and bad news for Kodiak. The good news is that Dunleavy included some level of school bond debt reimbursement instead of none at all.
Greg Kim, KYUK

There are no longer any public school students attending in-person classes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Kuspuk was the last school district to move all of its schools to remote learning. The district will re-evaluate whether it can reopen schools on February 6, according to the Facebook page of the Auntie Mary Nicoli Elementary School in Aniak.
Greg Kim, KYUK

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is continuing to adapt to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Bethel. To avoid crowds, the school district will deliver meals directly to students’ homes. Previously, LKSD was delivering meals at several bus stop locations in Bethel, where children and their families could come pick up the food.
Robert Woolsey, KCAW

Mt. Edgecumbe High School successfully contained an early outbreak of coronavirus, and is holding classes in person, despite the fact that Sitka — and most of the state — remains at “high.” The Alaska Board of Education heard a favorable report about the state-owned boarding school’s efforts to mitigate the virus, during its quarterly meeting.
Robert Woolsey, KCAW

The Sitka School Board will consider acknowledging Tlingit lands when it formally opens its meetings, if a proposal introduced gets traction. The so-called “land acknowledgement” is a sign of respect toward Alaska’s Indigenous populations, and many government bodies are adopting a statement of gratitude as policy.
Hope McKenney, KUCB

Unalaska's classrooms will be closed from Tuesday, earlier this week, as the district moves to distance learning. That's after city officials on Monday confirmed at least one more COVID-19 case from community spread. The city will also be moving to the "high risk" threshold under the island's multi-agency Unified Command guidelines.
Sage Smiley, KSTK

Wrangell’s school board approved spending around $11,000 to aid in its search for its next district superintendent. Wrangell public schools’ superintendent Debbe Lancaster is leaving at the end of the school year. She submitted a letter of resignation in October. The board met in a special meeting to discuss a contract with the Association of Alaska School Boards to help in the search.
Alaska School Sports News
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Bruce Cech, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Alaska Schools Activities Association is looking at the possibility of two separate high school hockey seasons: some “old time hockey” in Fairbanks and “spring time hockey” in Anchorage.
Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage teams plan to hibernate until mid-March and Fairbanks teams are considering playing outdoors in order to salvage their high school hockey seasons.
Jeff Helminiak, Homer News

According to an email from Soldotna High School Athletic Director Kyle McFall, high schools will be able to start ski practice. Cross-country skiing is the only sport the Alaska School Activities Association is allowing right now. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has not been allowing skiing due to high numbers of COVID-19 cases in the area.
Greg Kim, KYUK

The Lower Kuskokwim School District, like most school districts in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, will be in high-risk mode with remote learning through the end of the semester. This action comes at the recommendation of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.
Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News

Alaska will have no college basketball and no college hockey this winter. The University of Alaska Fairbanks on Friday announced it won’t compete in hockey, men’s basketball and women’s basketball this school year.
AASB Webinars
. WEBINAR . Welcome to the Board!
Presenters: AASB staff and Katie Oliver, AASB President-elect.
Were you just elected to your board? Do you have questions? We have answers!
. 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.
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