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 Conferences - Recap & Resources
  • Maintenance Employees Conference Registration Open!
  • AASB January Webinar Series Registration Open!
  • AASB February Conferences: Law & Policy Day Version 2.0 & Legislative Fly-In, Youth Leadership Institute
  • SCCS Registration Open!
  • Trauma Engaged Social Media Resources
  • June Nelson Scholarship Apply Now!
  • John Sedor - A Free AND Ordered Space
  • Ann Macfarlane - Jurassic Parliament
  • Ask AASB
  • STEPS Spotlight
  • Bulletin Board
  • Federal, State, & District News
Recommitting to Alaska’s Education Challenge
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

In 2017 I wrote a short Commentary article about the newly minted “Alaska’s Education Challenge.” I just reread that piece and realized that the challenge remains and that while we have made some progress here and there, we still struggle to see outcomes for all of our students improve significantly. Add on top of a pandemic that has fundamentally challenged how our education system works, and I realized that our education challenge for Alaska students remains unsatisfied. 

For some, the lack of significant progress may seem disheartening, but I see that we have made some progress, and more importantly, we have shown we can be resilient. We can learn from the adversity the pandemic has created and amplified. The pandemic has shown us all that a successful and responsive education system depends on all of us. In whatever role we play, we are crucial to meeting the challenge and providing an excellent education for every student every day. We must recommit ourselves to taking up this challenge.

Engaging Your Community in the Policy Process
Tiffany Jackson, AASB Director of Membership Services

If you have ever been in a workshop or session with me, you've heard me say the School Board’s role is in governance, and one of the key ways the school board governs is through policy. But, does that mean developing policies should only involve school board members? No! If you want the best possible policy to govern your school district, you should be involving your school community: The Superintendent, staff, content experts, and families and other COMMUNITY members.

You may be thinking; how do we involve community in the policy process? If your district utilizes AASB’s model policies, the Board Bylaw 9310 in AASB’s Model Policy Manual reads in part, “The School Board has pledged to consider the will and needs of the community.” So how do you do this?

Here are just some of the ways the School Board can go about learning the will and needs of the community:

Elevating Youth Voice: Tips for Getting Student Input
Tyler Breen, AASB Community Engagement Educator

Whether you are a school board member, superintendent, teacher, or a caring adult to youth, we all have the goal of supporting our students to become their best selves. Connecting with students and incorporating their perspectives is an important step in providing that support.

However, currently only 35% of students in Alaska reported that they are involved in helping to solve school problems (School Climate and Connectedness Survey, 2021 student responses).

As districts look for new, imaginative, and innovative ways to get youth input, AASB is here to help support you in elevating youth voice. Here are some questions and ideas for getting started.

End of Year Conferences Recap
Jenni Lefing, AASB School Climate and Conference Coordinator

Over 70 Executive Administrative Assistants, School Board Members, and Superintendents attended this month’s School Law/Policy & Equity Day or Executive Administrative Assistants Training at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage.

Each training offered two days of learning and networking opportunities.
Monica Southworth of NEA-Alaska presented at School Law & Policy Day
on Virtual Communications Outside the School House Gates
School Law & Policy Day
Attorney John Sedor hosted this year’s School Law & Policy Day, focused on “A Free and Ordered Space.” 

As Sedor noted in a recent AASB Commentary newsletter, “Schools bring together an incredibly diverse group of people, each of whom want and expect the freedom to express themselves. On the other hand, schools must have sufficient order in the school community to be able to effectively and successfully deliver the level of education the next generation requires and deserves.”
Attorney John Sedor, Anchorage Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop, and Wrangell Superintendent Bill Burr presented on Board/Superintendent Relationships during School Law & Policy Day.
Commissioner Michael Johnson opened the day by explaining what is meant by “A Free and Ordered Space.” A diverse group of presenters delved further into this topic by exploring various facets:

  • District Staff & Virtual Communications Outside the School House Gates with Monica Southworth of NEA-Alaska.
  • Student Freedom and Its Impact on School Order and the Delivery of Quality Education with Luke Almon, Principal, Anchorage School District 
  • Freedom to Interact and Boundaries that Cannot Be Crossed with Attorney Clint Campion 
  • A Free and Ordered School Board Meeting: 1) Public Comment and, 2) Disciplining Board Member Who Overstep Their Bounds with John Sedor 
  • A Free and Ordered Space in the Board/Superintendent Relationship with Timi Tullis, AASB and Dr. Deena Bishop, Anchorage School District.

One attendee stated that their biggest takeaway from the School Law & Policy Day was, “All the information given about examples of actual problems that principals are facing these days, [and] staying current with the changing of time.”
School Law Day attendees watch a presentation by South High School Principal
Luke Almon on The Balance of Freedom and Order in Schools.
Equity Day
Sunday’s Equity Day was an opportunity for boards to think about equity within their schools. Equity Day began as a result of AASB’s long range plan goal around equity, and is modeled on similar trainings at other state associations.

This year’s Equity Day was focused on teacher recruitment and retention, student engagement, policy, and superintendent evaluations, and how to look at these areas with an equity lens.

The day began with attendees writing down what equity means to them. Their responses included: 

  • “All individuals have what they need to reach a determined goal."
  • “Opportunity.”
  • “Equity means to me that we are fair and consistent, but to also be impartial.
  • “The extra boost to create equality.”
  • “All children receiving education.” 
  • “Individual supports/resources based on individual student needs and abilities.” 

All of these are reflected in the National School Board Association (NSBA) equity statement that defines “Educational equity [as] the intentional allocation of resources, instruction, and opportunities according to need, requiring that discriminatory practices, prejudices, and beliefs be identified and eradicated,” that was shared during the Laying the Groundwork opening session with Tiffany Jackson.
Barbara Adams presented on teacher recruitment & retention at Saturday’s Equity Day.
Barbara Adams, with Adams Analytic Solutions then presented the most recent findings from the Governors’ Teacher Recruitment and Retention (TRR) Working Group. This group has been reviewing the root causes of Alaska’s teacher retention and recruitment issues and in turn propose solutions to better attract and retain great teachers. 

At the end of the presentation, members had an opportunity to identify strategies that could fall under the six essential areas identified through the survey to address:

  • Strengthening Working Conditions
  • Developing Leadership 
  • Reconstructing Retirement Option
  • Enhancing Recruitment Efforts and Opportunities 
  • Creating Paraprofessional Pathways 
  • Streamlined Certification and Recertification 

These insights will be shared with the full TRR Working Group. 
Executive Administrative Assistants Training 

Sessions attended by Executive Administrative Assistants included exploring their role in Being a Board Clerk, Meeting Minutes, Human Resources, Robert’s Rules of Order, Learning about New Laws and Regulations, and Mindfulness: Taking Care of Yourself; while throughout all these tasks. 
 Carleen Mitchell presenting on Human Resources at the Executive Administrative Assistants Training
One critical responsibility for all Executive Administrative Assistants is serving as the school board clerk. This entails staying on top of changes in policies and regulation and maintaining accurate meeting minutes and records for the school board.  

The key takeaway from the meeting minutes session is that, “The purpose of minutes is to record the actions taken by the body. Minutes record what is DONE, not what is SAID.”  

Attendees shared how they take, record and process meeting minutes. At the end of the session one attendee noted that the “self care [session] was very calming and useful, which we lack and forget about at work on stressful days.” 

The day included Timi Tullis leading the group through a “mindful minute,” where you close your eyes, sit quietly and breathe, listen and see for a full minute, an exercise anyone can do! 
What's Coming Up Next?

We hope to see many of you at our next in-person conference February 12-14, 2022
in Juneau for AASB's Law and Policy Day Version 2.0 & Legislative Fly-In and Youth Advocacy Institute. Registration will open in January.

Meanwhile, we welcome you to explore resources from this month’s conferences by clicking the button below.
AASB Maintenance Employees Conference

AASB and Alaska Public Entities Insurance (APEI) have teamed up to bring you the 8th annual Maintenance Employees Conference, January 12-13 at the Lakefront Anchorage.

This 2-day conference will focus on providing content centered on school district maintenance issues and safety.
The event will be a great way to learn from experts and your peers, and network with other maintenance folks from across the state.

Topics that may be covered:

  • Maintenance Employee Certification and Professional Development
  • Security Systems – dealing with vandalism
  • Bulk fuel tank management
  • Refinishing Gym Floors
  • Sprinkler Inspections and Fire Alarms
  • Disinfection Protocols and sanitizers
  • Creating a culture of safety
  • Reports and updates from DEED
  • Professional Boundaries with staff and students
AASB January Webinar Series

This webinar series will feature the three breakout sessions from AASB's Annual conference that were postponed. These sessions are available to all 2021 Annual Conference Registrants, and will be recorded!

Each session you attend, your name will be entered into a drawing for a prize at the end of the series! The three sessions and details are listed below, please click the zoom registration links to sign up!
Politics: The Art of Compromise
Norm Wooten, AASB Advocacy Director
January 13, Noon – 1:00 pm

There is much frustration among the public on the operation of government and how citizens can make a difference. In this session, you will learn how to be an effective advocate for public education. Additionally, we will take a look at what to expect in the 2nd session of the 32nd Alaska State Legislature.
Alaska’s Trauma-Engaged Resources: Transforming Our Schools During the Pandemic and Beyond
Heather Coulehan & Lisa Worl, AASB
January 20, Noon – 1:00 pm

The pandemic has highlighted the impact of trauma and stress on learning. 96% of school staff in Alaska participating in the 2021 School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) responded favorably to the statement, “I understand how experiences of trauma can affect a person’s coping skills and behaviors.” How can districts move from understanding trauma’s impact to putting this awareness into action by changing their practice? We’ll explore existing and new tools in Alaska’s Transforming Schools suite of trauma-engaged resources. New milestone guides and an Alaska-based video library help districts shift from “knowing to doing.” Wherever you are in your Transforming Schools journey – from just starting to experienced – please join us for good conversation and to fill your basket with new resources.
Board Conduct: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Timi Tullis & Tiffany Jackson, AASB
January 27, Noon – 1:00 pm

Being on the school board means working with other people as a part of a team. Sometimes, with different personalities, different opinions and different ways of expressing themselves, boards may find themselves in difficult meetings, or having to deal with conflict. This section will give you tools to handle conflict, help you identify what your role is in maintaining board conduct, and more.
Registration will open in January!
Law & Policy Day Version 2.0
February 12 (Sat)
Co-Hosted with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development 

Join us for an in depth discussion on
Education Funding: How Money Works
facilitated by Attorney John Sedor

Participants will:
  • Focus on how Education Funding Works and Learning that How Money is Allocated Impacts Results.
  • Learn why struggling with the nitty gritty details of school funding is governance, not micromanagement.
  • Learn how not to make assumptions about school funding.

The day will also feature a Civil Discourse on this critical and consequential topic that will include:
  • Senator Tom Begich
  • Commissioner Michael Johnson
  • Chad Aldeman, Policy Director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University
Legislative Fly-In
February 13 & 14 (Sun - Mon)
After the Law & Policy Day Version 2.0,
stay for the Legislative Fly-In!

A virtual attendance option will be available for Sunday, February 13.

Participants will:
  • Discuss and learn about key legislative issues influencing education this year.
  • Meet in like-size district forums to identify legislation that can be supported by AASB and develop talking points for legislative priorities. 
  • Meet with legislators and other decision makers.
Registration Fees

AASB Members (Sat – Mon)
$510 full weekend

Non-Members (Sat only)
$350 one day rate

AASB Members – Virtual (Sun only)
To Be Determined
Special Registration Offer for this year: 

When a district registers two school board members and Superintendent, a fourth person can register for free! This offer is made possible through a grant from Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.
Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI)
February 12 (Sat) – February 14 (Mon)
YAI is designed for high school students, especially sophomores and juniors, who want to be immersed in the Alaska legislative process.

Participants will:
  • Learn how a bill becomes a law.
  • Discuss key legislative issues influencing education this year.
  • Participate in mock testimony, and advocate for legislation (alongside their school board) that affects them and their communities, all for public education.

Registration Fee: $320 for Students & Chaperones 

For questions or more details on YAI, reach out to Tyler Breen to learn more.
AASB 2022 School Climate
& Connectedness Survey (SCCS) Registration Open!
Each year, the majority of Alaska school districts collect and use school climate data to improve and strengthen school environments, relationships, and connections between students, staff, & families.
SCCS is a research-backed survey that collects valid and reliable perception data to better understand and build a positive school climate in your school district.

This year districts choose a five-week window between January 17- March 26 for students and staff to take the survey.

SCCS’s interactive survey platform through Panorama Education makes survey administration, reporting, and analysis interactive and user-friendly. Participating districts also receive:
  • Free webinars and ongoing training support to oversee survey administration, and how to use the interactive platform.
  • Support on how to use survey results that includes on-site workshops or virtual conferences led by AASB staff.
For more information, please reach out to Jenni Lefing.
Calling all Trauma Engaged School Champions
to Spread the Word!

AASB, in partnership with the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (DEED) and the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, is proud to launch Trauma Engaged Schools social media resources.

Through these 23 simple, visually appealing messages we strive to build awareness and support for Trauma Engaged best practices among Alaskan educators and schools.

Download and share these messages:
  • On your social media page
  • On your schools message board
  • In direct messages to those you work with

Check out other Trauma Engaged Schools Resources:
AASB also provides a suite of Transforming Schools resources to help Alaska schools and communities integrate trauma-engaged practices and policies into their everyday activities. Transforming Schools offers a framework, toolkit, video library, e-modules, and milestone guides.
Recruitment Announcement:
Community Dialogue/Family Partnerships Coordinator

The Association of Alaska School Boards is seeking a full-time staff person to fill the Community Dialogue/Family Coordinator (CFC) position.

This CFC is dedicated to supporting families, schools, and communities. A Juneau applicant is preferred, but applicants residing in other communities in Alaska will be considered. Please provide a cover letter explaining your interest and experience and a resume to lmiller@aasb.org.

For additional information please contact lgrassgreen@aasb.org. Applicants will be reviewed on a rotating basis, but applications should be submitted by January 6.
For the full description click here.

Attention High School Seniors!

Apply for AASB’s 31st Annual June Nelson Scholarship Competition 

Winners receive a
$1,500 scholarship!

The Association of Alaska School Boards is proud to announce its 31st Annual Scholarship Award Competition! The June Nelson Memorial Scholarship is named in honor of the late June Nelson, a longtime school board member from Kotzebue. June contributed much to the cause of education and is remembered for her outstanding service on behalf of Alaska’s children.

This 2021-2022 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 college institution.

Application Deadline: Friday, April 1, 2022 at 11:59 pm
A Free AND Ordered Space: The Tension Between What You Can Do and What You Should Do
John Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
On December 10, AASB hosted the latest edition of Law & Policy Day which was an in-person in depth focus on “A Free and Ordered Space.” What was interesting and enlightening to me was to listen to the speakers provide their unique perspectives on not only what A Free and Ordered Space means to them, but how it actually impacts their view of and work in public education.

John Sedor
When and how do you pass the gavel?
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
The term “pass the gavel” refers to a situation where the chair of a meeting (the presider, the person running the meeting) temporarily gives up the position of chair (the authority to run the meeting) to allow another person to preside over the meeting.

Q: What requirements are there to serve on the School Board?
A: Alaska Statute 14.12.080 states to be eligible to be a member of a school board, a person must have the same qualifications as are necessary to be a municipal voter in the school district. 

Your school district may also have a Board Bylaw specifically laying out Qualifications of school board members. 
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at Ask AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
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.
Winter Reading and Videos

If you use this time of year to catch up on reading or watching videos, please check out these resources:

  • Trauma Engaged Video Library - These 5-10 minute video resources are intended to provide practitioners with actionable tools for incorporating trauma engaged practices into their work.
  • Practice a little Self-Care using the Transforming Schools Toolkit Resources.
  • Racial Equity Dialogue Host - January 17 & 18. An opportunity to work on practicing general dialogue hosting skills and to prepare for specific dialogues you may host on racial equity, youth leadership, family conversations, community priorities or education-centered dialogues. Location: Juneau Yacht Club. For more information contact Konrad Frank or Emily Ferry.
In the words of the late Chatham Superintendent Bruce Houck in his letter to students and family on November 25, 2021:

“During this time of giving thanks, I want to share just a few of the things we are grateful for: We are thankful for our students who come to school every day ready to learn. They are a constant reminder of what is important to us all.

The most important thing is that we are grateful for the parents that have continued to place their trust in us. Sharing the most valuable possessions they have with us and working hard to be a partner in the education, safety, and well-being of their children. ...I hope you all have a healthy and relaxing holiday!” 

Wishing you and your families health and happiness in 2022.
Bruce Houck
To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
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 as a chance to model how to stay calm and try again.

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

Nomination Deadline: December 31st!
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.
REAA Reapportionment Finalized, Will Result in Recast of Seat Assignments in 10 Districts
Alaska Department of Education and Early Development

Ten Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA) school districts will see a recasting of their school board seats as a result of the reapportionment process Alaska statute requires after every decennial census.

DEED, in consultation with the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED), finalized the REAA school board seat assignments after considering public comments.              
An REAA is an educational area that is established in an unorganized borough of the state. There are 19 REAAs in Alaska.
In accordance with AS 14.08.051(c), within 90 days of the Federal decennial census, the Commissioner of DEED, in consultation with DCCED and local communities, must review the school board apportionment structure of each REAA to determine if it meets the statutory standards contained at AS 14.08.051(a). The standard is that each school board member represent “as nearly as practicable, an equal number of persons.” Where the standard is not met, options are proposed to the public.
The report, which contains the notices, maps, public comment, options, and decisional documents, can be found on DCCED’s Division of Community and Regional Affairs website at https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/dcra/News.aspx.
Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program) is a temporary federal program that launched on May 12, 2021 to help eligible households pay for internet service during the pandemic.

For students whose families are struggling to afford their monthly internet service, this program may be able to help. The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) administers the EBB Program under the direction of the FCC.

For more information visit GetEmergencyBroadband.org.
Broadband Grants and Public Virtual Listening Sessions with Stakeholders
U.S. Department of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will host broadband grant program public virtual listening sessions in connection with the five new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

  • Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program
  • Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program and Digital Equity Act Programs, which include:
  • State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program
  • State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program
  • Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides grants that will be available to school districts, non-profits, and other entities for purposes of digital equity and planning, as well as broadband deployment. Further, the law cites schools among entities designated as eligible community anchor institutions.

The public virtual listening sessions are designed to collect stakeholder input to help inform program development and implementation.

Task force on Broadband Internet in Alaska releases report
KINY Juneau

Governor Dunleavy's 14-member Task Force on Broadband released a report with recommendations, the vision of the report focuses on the state facilitating access to the benefits of broadband internet. The Broadband Task Force has been meeting since July. The Task Force consisted of Alaska Native leaders, local government officials, urban and rural business leaders, State legislators, rural healthcare representatives, a rural school district superintendent, the telecommunications industry, the Commissioner of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, and several other participants.
The report's list of recommendations includes a focus on bringing every Alaskan’s home internet bandwidth to at least 100 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speeds, and to create an Office of Broadband within the State of Alaska, focused on the deployment of broadband infrastructure funding to build out Alaska’s networks and ensure broadband access and digital equity.

$20 Million in American Rescue Plan Grants to Promote American Indian Resilience in Education for Native Communities During Pandemic
U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced approximately $20 million in grants to Tribal Educational Agencies (TEAs) to meet the urgent needs of students in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan Act’s American Indian Resilience in Education (AIRE) grant program will fund culturally relevant projects—that include at least one of the activities from section 6121(c) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965—designed to assist and encourage Native American children and youth to enter, remain in, or reenter school at any grade level from Pre-K through grade 12. These activities include a broad range of direct education, health, and workforce preparation services for Native students, their teachers, and their families.

“The Department of Education is committed to advancing equity and excellence for Native American students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “The ARP AIRE funds will be critical in helping Tribal Educational Agencies bring students back to engaging and culturally responsive in-person learning. These resources will support the efforts of Tribal leaders to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for Native children and youth; honor Tribal traditions, cultures and languages; and elevate the deep reserves of knowledge and expertise in these communities.”

Bill would draw funds for Alaska schools from Permanent Fund earnings, along with PFD
Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO Juneau

The state’s annual draw from the Permanent Fund is a lot of money — currently more than $3 billion.

For some lawmakers, the primary way that money should be used is clear: to pay PFDs. But other lawmakers say the fund can help settle one of the state issues that’s been debated even longer than the PFD: how to pay for public education.

While state public school funding has been flat the past five years, its value has been eroded by rising prices. And some teachers have received pink slips while waiting for the Legislature to pass the budget. Anchorage Democratic Rep. Ivy Spohnholz said the uncertainty is hurting schools.
Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage currently chairs the House Special Committee on Ways and Means, which introduced a bill to designate that a share of the state’s annual draw from permanent fund earnings be used to support public education. Photo: Skip Gray/360 North
“If you ask any business if unstable revenue will drive performance, they’ll tell you, ‘No,’” she said. “The same thing is true for public education. Sustainable funding actually helps to drive reform and outcomes and performance.”

Redistricting has shifted Alaska's political landscape, with control of the state House and Senate at stake
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News

Alaska's politicians are beginning to adjust to a new political map defined by the state's redistricting board, even as dissatisfied governments and groups file lawsuits and seek to change the board's work.

If the new redistricting map survives legal challenge, observers say it will not radically change the number of seats controlled by Republicans and Democrats. But because the Alaska House is so closely divided, even a small change may determine whether the House is controlled by Republicans or a predominantly Democratic coalition. A district changing from a moderate Republican to one further right could have a similar impact.
The final version of the Alaska Redistricting Board's Interactive 2021 Redistricting Map can be accessed here.
In the state Senate, Republicans are poised to represent liberal-leaning portions of northeast Anchorage after a contentious redistricting process marred by accusations of political gerrymandering. The Senate's 13-member Republican majority has been split between center-right and solid-right Republicans, and the change could send more moderate Republicans to the Senate, altering that balance.

Governor Announces Alaska Marine Highway System Infrastructure Plan
Alaska Native News / State of Alaska

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and Transportation Commissioner Ryan Anderson have announced their plan to re-energize the Alaska Marine Highway System. Among the significant capital investments is a new ocean-class vessel to replace the 57-year-old Tustumena ferry.
“The Tusty has been plying rough seas for nearly 60 years and is approaching the end of its service life. Annual repairs for the vessel now reach $2 million,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I’ve asked DOT to replace this key piece of infrastructure to ensure connectivity for our coastal communities for another 50 years.”

The replacement vessel is estimated to cost $200 million to $250 million and will be competitively bid. The new ship is expected to begin service in 2027. The new ship’s vehicle and passenger capacity would increase by 40 percent over the Tustumena, from 34 to 52 vehicles and from 160 to 250 passengers.

The marine highway serves 35 communities in Alaska and transports goods, vehicles and passengers between communities. The ocean highway also links coastal communities to Alaska’s highway and rail network.

The Alaska Native Success Initiative
University of Alaska Southeast

An installment of the University of Alaska Southeast’s fall lecture series podcast, Evening at Egan.

In this discussion, you’ll learn about the Alaska Native Success Initiative (ANSI), led by Dr. Pearl Brower and Ronalda Cadiente Brown - UA Senior Advisor for Alaska Native Success, Institutional Diversity, and Student Engagement, and UAS Associate Vice Chancellor for Alaska Native Programs.
Dr. Brower and Ms. Cadiente Brown illustrate the principal priorities of ANSI, seeking to improve the participation and success of Alaska Natives through educational achievement statewide, as well as Alaska Native representation and success throughout the University of Alaska system. Working with leaders from Alaska Native corporations, tribal entities, and other southeast organizations, Pearl and Ronalda strive to create spaces where Alaska Native and indigenous students, faculty, and staff feel welcome and heard.

‘Molly of Denali’ episodes getting translated and dubbed in the Gwich’in and Koyukon languages

“Molly of Denali,” the show about a 10-year-old Interior Alaskan girl and her friends, has been airing in English since 2019. Now, the Doyon Foundation is working to dub two episodes of the show into the Gwich’in and Koyukon languages.

The language revitalization program of Doyon Foundation put out a call for actors who can speak two of the languages of the region. The Foundation is working with WGBH Boston, which produces the fictional PBS Kids’ cartoon, to create episodes representing all the real Mollys out there.
Nanibaa’ Frommherz (left) and Isadora Kizer participated in a voice acting workshop led by creators of “Molly of Denali,” organized by the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. Photo: Zoe Grueskin/KTOO
The “Molly of Denali” project is just one effort of Doyon Foundation’s language revitalization program, which works to preserve the ancestral languages of the Doyon region.

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.
Corinne Smith, KHNS Haines

The Superintendent of the Chatham School District Bruce Houck died suddenly on Tuesday. The rural school district covers four village schools in Southeast Alaska, including Klukwan. An Alaska State Trooper traveled to Angoon on Wednesday to investigate the death, according to troopers spokesperson Tim DeSpain. He said the investigation revealed that the 61-year-old died of natural causes alone in his sleep. No foul play is suspected and the State Medical Examiner’s Office released the body to his family. Houck lived in Angoon, and was the head administrator for the district which included Angoon, Gustavus, Tenakee Springs and Klukwan.

Bruce Houck
Dylan Simard, KMXT Kodiak

Kodiak Island Borough School District superintendent Larry LeDoux has announced he’ll step down at the end of the school year after 44 years in education. He says he feels his legacy will be borne out in positive student outcomes, and the quality of staff at district schools. “I addressed the entire staff, invited them to be immortal, and that is to be the teacher that affects the lives of kids so that when their kids have kids, they tell them about those incredible teachers and support staff members who really changed their lives and help give them direction and purpose,” LeDoux said.
Larry LeDoux
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News

As the Anchorage School Board gets ready to begin budget discussions, officials with the district are warning it faces an estimated $67 million operational shortfall next year, though federal pandemic aid could offer one way to plug the gap.
Still, that aid is expected to run out within two years, the officials say, raising questions about what must change in order to maintain balanced budgets.
Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media

After several hours of debate and discussion at its November 23 meeting, the Anchorage Assembly unanimously passed the city’s operating budget. The budget restores money for early education, police officers in schools and a roving team of crisis mental health providers. The school board had argued that the mayor’s budget proposal put additional financial stress on the school district, which has seen budget crunches due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stagnant state funding. “The proposed budget will shift more than $2 million onto the shoulders of the district and disrupt an already fragile school environment,” the school board wrote in a letter to the Assembly. The Assembly ultimately sided with the school board, and amended the mayor’s budget to fund school resource officers through the end of the school year, at a cost of around $1.2 million.
Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News

Starting in January, the Anchorage School District will no longer require universal masking among students, instead leaving it up to parents to decide whether their children should wear face coverings at school. Superintendent Deena Bishop said COVID-19 numbers at the moment indicate lower virus spread and case counts in the city and district that are trending down. The numbers, combined with other protective actions like vaccines and quick-turn testing in schools, made way for the change.
Corinne Smith, KHNS Haines
The Chatham School District has been awarded $1,104,917 in federal COVID relief funding, most recently $706,428 in American Rescue Plan funding, according to the state’s education website. The federal relief money has not been mentioned in nearly three months of highly emotional and often tense public negotiations between the district’s board of education and Klukwan leadership over the future of its school. Klukwan’s enrollment dropped to six students this October, below the threshold of 10 – the minimum to receive state funding.
Margaret Bauman, The Cordova Times

Cordova School Board officials will consider updates on COVID-19 mitigation measures when the board convenes its next meeting, said Alex Russin, the city’s superintendent of schools. Russin issued a letter to parents, the community, staff and students reminding them that the school district has been working with the community’s medical response team and encouraging increasing vaccinations, including those now available for younger children. “We look forward to hearing perspectives and guidance related to our mitigation strategies, including universal masking,” he said.
Margaret Bauman, The Cordova Times

Masking in Cordova’s public schools will be optional starting in 2022, under updated guidelines unanimously approved by the school board, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread for a third year in Alaska. The Cordova School Board voted Dec. 8 to adjust its universal making requirement as part of its mitigation plan at the start of the new semester on Jan. 3. Masking will be optional in the schools, including the district’s some 335 students, “but if we have a serious outbreak, we may pull back on that,” Superintendent Alex Russin said.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A task force is calling for three elementary schools — Joy, Nordale and Anderson — to be closed and for the sixth grade to be shifted to middle schools to help address declining enrollment and a budget deficit.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Face masks become optional in public school buildings, including charter schools, starting Jan. 3 after a 4-3 vote of the Board of Education late Tuesday. The vote comes as Covid-19 cases among staff and students have dropped to the lowest number – 15 cases last week and eight cases so far this week – since school began on August 18. School Board Chair Jennifer Luke said some of the rationale for adopting mandatory face masks inside school buildings three months ago was that young children could not be vaccinated.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Four charter schools are requesting face mask policy autonomy from the Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education, which is holding a special meeting, including a public hearing, at 6 p.m. Thursday. The requests from Boreal Sun Charter School, Chinook Montessori Charter School, Effie Kokrine Charter School and Watershed Charter School.
Kris Capps, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Local students have a new way to acquire a public library card.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Public Libraries announced a new partnership with Fairbanks North Star Borough public schools.
KINY Juneau

There was reaction from City and Borough of Juneau Manager Rorie Watt while a guest on Action Line to Governor Dunleavy's proposal in his budget for next fiscal year that provides one hundred percent funding for the school bond debt reimbursement program. "I'm glad the state is meeting its obligations to provide assistance to education to Alaska. That's straight out of the constitution. These are projects that were previously approved by our voters in the state program and am glad the Governor included that in the budget." For the last couple of years Watt said they have budgeted based on receiving fifty percent of that state obligation.
Dana Zigmund, Juneau Empire

Christmas came early for parents who use the RALLY child care program as school officials announced a substantial price reduction that started this month. Short for Relationships and Leadership, Learning for Youth, RALLY provides before- and after-school care to families with school-age children and has long been a fixture of child care in Juneau. For a combination of reasons — including labor costs, sagging enrollment after the pandemic and debt from prior years — monthly rates soared to as high as $999 a month per child earlier this year.
Bridget Dowd, KTOO Juneau

These are the first oral narrative standards to be developed for Lingít language to be taught to school children. The literacy program is available to kindergartners through fifth graders in the Juneau School District. It requires an application and acceptance through a lottery process. The school district has been working with community partners like Sealaska Heritage Institute, the Douglas Indian Association, and Goldbelt Heritage Foundation to foster the revitalization of Lingít language.
Michael S. Lockett, Juneau Empire

The Juneau Police Department was called on Monday afternoon after a student made a comment about shooting a local school.
The incident was resolved in-house without charges being issued, said Lt. Krag Campbell. “A student was upset about a phone being taken away and made an offhand comment about shooting up the school. JPD responded and investigated,” Campbell said in an email. “After speaking with everyone involved, there are no criminal charges and it is being handled within the school.”
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

The Kenai Peninsula’s state legislative delegation joined the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education on Monday for a frank and sometimes charged discussion about issues the district would like to see lawmakers prioritize in the upcoming legislative session. The board in October identified as priorities maintaining a robust public education system; providing a timely and sustainable education funding plan; reconsideration of the state’s bond reimbursement moratorium; and supporting a positive school climate, including social and emotional learning.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District staff and students identified as close contacts of someone who test positive for COVID-19 may have the option to return to school immediately under new protocols implemented by the district. Prior to Nov. 29, people identified as close contacts followed different protocols depending on whether or not they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or had been positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
Camille Botello, Peninsula Clarion

Holiday gifts for at-risk youth were presented to representatives from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District during the annual awards ceremony of the Kenai Peninsula Association of Realtors on Thursday. The association filled 20 duffel bags with holiday presents for kids enrolled in the district’s Students in Transition program.
Posted by Eric Stone
Ketchikan Daily News

Ketchikan’s school board is set to consider resuming its search for a new superintendent. The recruiting effort has been on hold since July. That’s when the board said it couldn’t agree on three qualified finalists from the dozen applications submitted this summer. Board members said at the time they’d resume the search in the fall. The school board on Wednesday will consider a roughly $7,300 agreement with the Association of Alaska School Boards to keep looking.
Ketchikan Daily News

All Ketchikan School District schools will operate at the high risk level of the KSD Start Strong COVID-19 mitigation plans through Sunday, the district announced on its website. The risk level was set at high due to the number of cases reported as active as of Ketchikan Public Health's latest update to the community information dashboard on Friday. At that time, 110 cases were active — above the 49-case threshold for moving down to the substantial risk level of the Start Strong plan.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

An $832,000 grant from the Afognak Native Corp. will help pay for a number of Kodiak Island Borough School District purchases, following the Board of Education’s action Monday night. The grant comes from the native corporation’s share of original CARES Act funding signed by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, according to a staff report from Damon Hargraves, the district’s director of federal programs.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak Island Borough School District’s effort to further develop its career technical education (CTE) program got a slight bump thanks to the school board accepting a competitive grant at a recent regular meeting. The grant, worth just under $25,000, will be used to develop two goals: that CTE programs are industry-informed and responsive to workforce needs and CTE programs are data-informed and responsive to student achievement.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

The Kodiak Island Borough School District in July announced it would be spending some of its $3.7 million in COVID-19 federal relief funding to do a deep overhaul of its health curriculum with the goal to focus on the “whole student’s needs.” The overhaul, to be overseen by Director of Curriculum Katrina Stewart and newly-hired health care curriculum coordinator Theresa Miller, will also need committee members, according to a letter released Wednesday by Superintendent Larry LeDoux. The committee would draw in members of the public, parents, health officials, district staff and teachers to work together, according to Miller.
The North Wind

Northern Michigan University’s Career Services will be collaborating with the Lower Kuskokwim School District to host an information session about teaching in the “bush” of Alaska. The information session will go over important details on living and working in the “bush.” Common questions involve how cold the area gets, how expensive it is to live in the “bush,” what healthcare is provided, and more. In addition to the information session, time will be provided for attendees to ask their own questions. The LKSD does roughly 70 job fairs per year in the lower 48 states in order to meet their need for educators. Alaska only produces about 18% of the educators needed in the state.
Greg Kim, KYUK Bethel

This story originally appeared in the Washington Post Magazine. It aimed to bring the issue of existential environmental threats, which Napakiak and many other communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta face, to a national audience.

On the first day of school in August, Principal Sally Benedict gathered her 22 high school students to explain why they had moved from their K-12 school into a detached portable unit next door. “Technically, you guys are called displaced children,” Benedict said. “We’re doing this because of the erosion.” The William Miller Memorial School in Napakiak, a Yup’ik village on a small island in Western Alaska, is tucked in a bend of the longest free-flowing river in the United States: the Kuskokwim. The river provides the lifeblood for Napakiak’s 370 residents, but now also threatens their existence.
Greg Kim, KYUK Bethel

It’s been six years since the Kilbuck school burnt down in Bethel. Since then, the students of Ayaprun Elitnaurvik, the Yup’ik immersion school, have been learning in what used to be a grocery store. The school district is planning on finally beginning construction of a new school in summer 2022, but COVID-19 may get in the way. After the Kilbuck school burned down in Bethel in 2015, a legal battle ensued between the Lower Kuskokwim School District and its insurance companies. The disagreement lasted years and included a lawsuit, all the while delaying construction of a replacement school. Last fall, the district finally came to a settlement with its insurers.
Greg Kim, KYUK Bethel

Nearly all school-age children are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. The Lower Kuskokwim School District is working with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation to offer the vaccines in schools. The student vaccination effort is underway while COVID-19 is still disrupting classrooms in a big way. Several months into the school year, Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins says that students are rotating in and out of school. “We have averaged between 5% and 8.5% of our total student population, on any given week, being out of school for quarantine,” Hankins said.
Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News

Three more families are claiming that a former Wasilla elementary school teacher inappropriately touched their children and school officials did nothing to act on their concerns prior to his arrest. A civil complaint filed in Palmer Superior Court also identifies a second school official accused of discouraging one parent from pursuing their concerns and not alerting authorities as required.
Angela Denning, KFSK Petersburg

The Petersburg School Board will be meeting in regular session Tuesday at 6 p.m. and there is a very light agenda. The meeting will focus on reports from the superintendent, school principals, and the activities director. The school board will also see a presentation from the middle school robotics team. The 7th and 8th graders competed in a regional tournament this past weekend and won an award for “innovative project”.In a written report prepared for the meeting, Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter said the school district will continue with current COVID protocols moving into the holidays. That will include universal masking.
Katherine Rose, KCAW Sitka

Dozens of parents spoke out against masks in Sitka’s public schools Wednesday (12-1-21) during a meeting of the Sitka School Board. The school district requires masks unless the community’s coronavirus alert level is ‘low’, But so far Sitka’s case count has been high enough to warrant masks all year. Some parents questioned the efficacy and the safety of masks and asked that the district let families decide whether their children donned masks in the classroom.
Mike Swasey, KHNS Haines

Skagway’s school will relax its mask policy in the new year following a recent school board meeting. Superintendent Josh Coughran says the board’s decision allows mask rules to be eased for some fully vaccinated students and teachers.
Mike Swasey, KHNS Haines

The Skagway School has a new librarian this year, Katie Kollasch. During her brief tenure, she’s noticed plenty of books on the library shelves that need to be replaced. Instead of asking the school for more money out of the budget, however, she’s decided to team up with the company that supplies the resource catalog software for her library. They have a fundraising arm called Titlewish.
Sage Smiley, KSTK Wrangell

With the coming new year comes the need to begin drafting a new budget, and Wrangell’s school district has been without a permanent business manager to oversee the process. The school board recently moved to hire a business manager who lives off-island. Since last year, Wrangell schools’ business manager position has been filled first by a business manager intern, and then an interim manager. Wrangell’s superintendent Bill Burr says that in an ideal world, the district would have a business manager on campus.
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Anchorage Daily News

Daishen Nix, who was born and raised in Alaska, entered the game for the Houston Rockets on Monday, adding one more name to the very short list of players with Alaska roots to reach the NBA. Nix, a shooting guard, was called up from NBA G League’s Rio Grande Valley for the game in Houston against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Juneau Bears football team, an all-star roster from the Juneau Youth Football League senior division, had the biggest test of their young careers last week at the National Youth Football Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Unfortunately we got classed into the wrong division,” head coach Josh Mahle said. “We were playing against kids in high school.” The Juneau Bears range in age from 13-14 and had one 12-year old and one 15-year old on their roster. Playing up a bracket meant they played against rosters of high school freshmen ages 15-16. The Bears fell to Colorado 41-0 on Thursday and lost to California 30-0 on Saturday.

While they came close to qualifying, the Unalaska girls volleyball team won’t be heading to the state tournament this year. They finished up their season at Lumen Christi High School in Anchorage last weekend, after coming in third place against five other teams at regionals. With just one teammate who has ever traveled to the regional tournament, Head Coach Rachel Peter said she’s proud of the athletes for making it as far as they did.
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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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

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