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.
  • AASB 2022-25 Pathways Long-Range Plan - NEW!
  • Guest Column: Joel Isaac, DEED - Tribal Compacting
  • Spring Boardsmanship & Legislative Fly-In - Register Now!
  • First-term Board Member Webinar Series - Register Now!
  • SCCS Update
  • June Nelson Scholarship Apply Now!
  • Leadership Academy & Legislative Fly-In - Highlights & Resources
  • Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) - Highlights & Resources
  • Lea Filippi - A Free AND Ordered Space
  • Ann Macfarlane - Jurassic Parliament
  • Ask AASB
  • Bulletin Board
  • Federal, State, & District News
Making Your Case
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

The legislative advocacy season is in full swing, and education, as always, is one of the most significant issues the legislature wrestles with. The K-12 education budget comprises about a quarter of the annual state budget. It is only surpassed by the HSS budget. Thus education funding continues to be one of the most debated elements of the state budget.

It is important to remember that Alaska Constitution, Article 7, Section 1 requires the legislature’s fiscal support, and they have done that every year. That support, however, has not always been enough to support the system properly.

As this second session of the 32nd legislature proceeds, there is one question I frequently hear, “Why should we give you more money? We don’t see better results.” It is an easy question to ask, and it seems like the answer should be simple. However, anyone involved in education knows that it is not that simple.

Public education is complex, and forces outside educators’ control can easily affect student outcomes. I see this question as “the opportunity” to tell your story about why funding is so important. It is the perfect time to convey the challenges that you must grapple with as a locally elected state official. Allocating the scarce resources you have to provide an education to each student that walks through your doors or signs on to your virtual classes is not easy nor inexpensive. But don’t just tell them one side, the deficit story; tell them of your successes, innovations, and focus on student outcomes. That is proof that resources matter.

This is not the time to be timid in your advocacy. In Alaska, you are elected by the same constituents that elect our representatives and senators. Your purpose is to fulfill the constitutional responsibility to provide public education locally. You can make decisions that can provide the best opportunities for your students.

AASB Membership: What's in it for you?
A Lot!
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director

During difficult budget times some may question the value of their membership with AASB. If your board ever gets to that point, here are some great responses as to why it is vitally important to remain a member of our statewide organization!

AASB Pathways 2022-25 Long Range Plan

The new Long-Range Plan continues the journey AASB began 31 years ago to chart the way for progress and change, keeping a focus on serving school boards and school districts with the goal of improving the outcomes and success of Alaska’s students.

Through a continuous improvement model that reexamines the goals on a recurring 3-year cycle, the Board and staff continue to give due diligence to the direction of AASB. We believe the plan befits an organization striving to be responsive to the needs of the membership and the Alaska K-12 Public Education system.

What is Tribal Compacting of Education?
Joel Isaac, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development

The conversation around State Tribal Education Compacting has been ongoing for decades in Alaska. At its core Compacting is simple, a government-to-government agreement. However, Compacting provides for a dynamic way to work in partnership to realize shared educational goals and student outcomes. 

While many students do find success through our current education system, far too many do not. Recently the need for State Tribal Education Compacting was brought to light through Alaska’s Education Challenge. Following Alaska’s Education Challenge, the Alaska State Board of Education adopted the priority to create the option for self-governance compacting for the delivery of education between the State of Alaska and Tribes or tribally-empowered Alaska Native organizations. 

Creating the option for State Tribal Education Compacting recognizes that there is a need to address systemic change in a manner that allows Alaska’s hard-working educators and students to achieve success. 

March 19-22, 2022
Attendees will:
  • Get a better understanding of your role as a leader on your board and in your district.
  • Discuss issues influencing education in 2022.
  • Meet with legislators and other decision makers.
  • Learn how new legislation will affect your district.
  • Show that the unity of Alaska’s School Boards can lead positive change.

COVID-19 Safety Information

Registration requirements for AASB’s February conferences will require one of the three items listed below:

  • Proof of a COVID vaccination (presentation of your actual vaccination card or a legible photo) or:
  • Proof of a negative COVID test (PCR) within three (3) days of the start of the AASB event or:
  • A health care provider’s documentation that you have had COVID within the last 90-days and are free from symptoms, including no fever within 24 hours of fever-reducing medications, has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, and are not contagious for the virus but may test positive. If you cannot produce the proof listed above, you will not be admitted until the documentation is provided to AASB staff.

In addition, all attendees are required to follow AASB’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, which includes wearing a mask throughout the conference. You can review the mitigation plan here: AASB Covid Mitigation Plan.

2022 AASB First-term Board Member Webinar Series

Whether you’re just getting started on your board, or want to brush up on the basics, AASB’s First Term Board Member Webinar Series is for you!

Live Webinar Series Schedule
Click session titles for information and registration

Recorded Webinars

Missed a session? Slides, video recordings, and other resources for completed webinars in the 2022 First-term Board Members series are available. (Member password required to access video content).

Feb 22 - School Finance with an Expert! Slides | Video
Feb 8 - The Superintendent – Building a Relationship Slides | Video
Feb 1 - Conducting Effective Meetings & Roberts Rules of Order Basics Slides | Video
Jan 25 - School Law Basics Video
Jan 18 - Welcome to the Board and AASB Board Standard Slides | Video

Please Note: Member password is required to access videos. Contact Tiffany Jackson.
AASB 2022 SCCS Update!

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’s School Climate & Connectedness Survey window has opened statewide. 31 districts have signed up to measure how students, staff, and families feel about their school’s climate and how connected they are to adults and peers – factors that impact student’s motivation to learn and the ability of school staff to create positive conditions for learning.

New this Year!
To gain a better understanding on what students need this year to feel supported academically, socially and emotionally, a new Learning Recovery topic has been included in this year’s survey. Questions center around reflections on learning from the past year, and perceptions of readiness for this school year. 

For example, students are asked “How confident are you in learning what you need to learn this school year?” and “How much did you learn last school year compared to other years?” 

For more information on SCCS reach out to sccs@aasb.org
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
February Conferences

This year’s Leadership Academy Day focused on the School Board Members’ Role in Leadership. Commissioner Michael Johnson and school law attorney John Sedor joined other presenters for a full day of excellent boardsmanship training, and the rollout of the newly developed Board President Handbook.

During the two-day Legislative Fly-In participants discussed and learned about key legislative issues influencing education this year, met in like-size district forums to identify legislation that can be supported by AASB, developed talking points for legislative priorities, and met with legislators and other decision makers.

Students from across the state attended AASB's Youth Advocacy Institute, held concurrently with the Leadership Academy and Legislative Fly-In. 29 students from 12 districts gathered in Juneau to practice leadership skills and discuss issues facing their communities with legislators and state officials.

Browse slideshows, video and other resources from AASB's Leadership Conference, Legislative Fly-In, and Youth Advocacy Institute by clicking the button below.
Attorney John Sedor discussed ways school districts can save on legal fees and answered school law questions.
DEED Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson encouraged the use of civil discourse
during challenging times.
Leadership Academy
Jenni Lefing, AASB Conference Coordinator
Commissioner Michael Johnson and Attorney John Sedor opened the Leadership Day by discussing the concept of Civil Discourse, and how to use it to “Lead Your Board with Grace During These Challenging Times.”

Commissioner Johnson began by conveying that as a school board member, it is crucial to “have the same expectations for yourself as you have for your students.”

Regardless of how others are behaving, as a school board member, you should be a role model, demonstrating to students the importance of being able to have a civil discourse. 

He compared the make-up of a school board to the “personalities on a playground at school recess.” Both are made up of distinctive individuals with unique perspectives. Rather than focusing on the differences and jumping to how to win an argument, he encouraged attendees to pause and celebrate the differences on their board by:
  • Valuing free exchange of ideas, even if you disagree,
  • Showing respect for others, 
  • Not engaging in inappropriate behaviors (such as heckling, whispering, facial expressions).

Commissioner Johnson noted that all of these recommendations are likely laid out in elementary school handbooks. “Your best training manual for elevating voice and civil discourse is your students’ handbooks.” 
So, what can you do to bring more civility into your boardroom? Suggestions include boards looking at their data on a regular basis, ensuring you are following the Open Meeting Act, and allowing for respectful public comment .  

Timi Tullis and Tiffany Jackson expanded on this through sharing tips and ideas on how to have effective board meetings. This includes how board members are seated at meetings, how the board addresses public participation, how the board discusses issues, and how the board role models behaviors. 

In the afternoon, Attorney John Sedor discussed how school districts can save on legal fees. His first recommendations were to contact your attorney early on, as “early advice is often cheaper than when you are well into the forest,” and understanding your insurance.  

Lon Garrison ended the day by reviewing the importance of the school board calendar, and key items to include, such as Superintendent Evaluations, Board Self-Evaluations, Updating Policies, and providing board development opportunities for school boards.

The next opportunity to spend a day working on boardsmanship skills will be Saturday March 18 during AASB’s Spring Boardsmanship Academy. More information and registration can be found HERE.

OMB Director Neil Steininger provided an overview of the Administration's FY23 Budget.
Rep. Andi Story introduced two bills this session to increase the Base Student Allocation
Setting the Stage - Our Purpose
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

Lon Garrison began the day by welcoming attendees and stressing the urgency of their voices being heard this legislative session. 

"In your role as school board members it is incredibly important to educate legislators not only about what your districts need, but also what public education in Alaska needs,” he said. "When I was a board member in Sitka we had our local challenges and successes, but we also had a commonality with all other Alaska districts in making sure education was a priority for the legislature.” 

Referencing the previous day’s discussion about civil discourse, Garrison reminded attendees that they may be asked by legislators why education should be prioritized over other needs. "Be prepared to answer that question,” he said. “In my mind, there’s no question. The constitution says it has to happen, and we know that children are one of the most important resources we have as a state. So, darn right it’s a priority, and, we have to speak about it in a civil, respectful way,” he said.

Garrison pointed out several opportunities during this year’s legislature to make history, including funding education through a percent of the market value of the Permanent Fund earnings revenue. This approach would remove education from the broader debate about funding other parts of the state budget, while providing a predictable, reliable source of annual revenue to school districts. "We all know how tough it is to continue programs, and recruit and retain the staff we need when funding is uncertain every year,” he said.

Another opportunity this session is passing legislation that addresses student literacy thru the creation of specialized reading programs. “Reading is important, no matter what your ethnicity may be,” Garrison said. “It’s a basic human right and one of AASB’s legislative priorities."

While acknowledging that each district has unique needs, Garrison said he hopes that board members can have a unanimous voice on some of the big issues. He emphasized that local stories are an important part of crafting solutions that can meet district needs. "As we go forward, think about the story each of you will tell,” he said. "What are the challenges your district faces, and how can each district in Alaska support each other?"

Garrison closed by thanking Fly-In attendees for taking the time—and the risk—to travel to Juneau from across the state to advocate for public education during the pandemic. “We’re learning to live in a new world with the coronavirus, and I think we have a real opportunity to make an impact while you’re here,” he said.

Different Regions, Common Goals
Attendees met in groups to discuss their expectations for the Fly-In. The event provided opportunities for board members from across Alaska to network and meet in like-size district forums to develop talking points for legislative priorities.
Legislative Process & Context 2022
Norm Wooten, AASB Director of Advocacy

AASB’s Director of Advocacy, Norm Wooten, began his presentation by thanking attendees for their advocacy efforts, as well as their interest in the success of Alaska’s children and support of AASB and its mission.

To illustrate the influence school districts can have on legislative decision making, Wooten recounted a recent meeting he had with an Alaska Senator who told him that if his office receives just four contacts about a particular bill or issue, he takes notice.

“Look how many people are here in the room today,” he told the audience. “You have an opportunity to make an educated impact on lawmakers."

Wooten stressed that attendees will encounter legislators who don’t agree with our positions, but they are not our enemies. “It takes two to argue, and if you’re not one of those two, the argument goes away and you can have a civil discourse,” he said. “Advocacy is about building relationships."
AASB is currently tracking 143 education-related bills, a record number. Each legislature has a first and second session. The 32nd legislature is currently in its second session, so any bills that don’t pass will die when this session adjourns. 

It is also an election year. As per Alaska’s Constitution, legislators cannot campaign or accept contributions until the legislature adjourns, so they are highly motivated to get bills passed, adjourn quickly, and begin campaigning. For these reasons it is doubtful there will be any special sessions this year.

The PFD amount has become an overriding issue for the legislature. "The pressure is on to get the PFD issue resolved and off the table so that public policy can once again take the forefront, and we start governing this state about things that matter, including education,” Wooten said.

The pandemic is another distraction the legislature faces, one that has become particularly acrimonious this session. Numerous bills have been introduced that center around abolishing COVID health mandates, vaccine/non-vaccine issues, and personal choice. Rather than debate these issues, Wooten’s advice was to keep discussions focused on education issues, as well as the local control each school district has to determine what is appropriate for their schools and communities. 

The Capitol building is currently open to the public, with legislators and staff undergoing regular testing. Masks are required at all times for everyone entering the building and social distancing must be maintained. Capitol entry rules may be amended at any time, or even suspended, based on changing conditions.

The House has a slim majority of 21 of 40 members, which has created continued gridlock and an inability to pass substantive legislation. Civility among House members continues to be elusive and Speaker Stutes has issued a warning. Redistricting has the potential to alter the makeup of future legislatures. The Alaska Redistricting Board released it’s recommendation, and already four lawsuits have been filed challenging it.

There are seven candidates running in the 2022 gubernatorial race. The outcome could have a profound impact on state policy issues, no matter who wins. This will be the first election in which Alaskans use the new Ranked Voting system. 

Wooten concluded his presentation with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate."

"That’s you,” Wooten said, pointing to the audience. “You have a vote that means more because so many people choose not to participate,” he said. "Children cannot vote, so you vote for them.” 

Representative Andi Story (D-Juneau) addresses Fly-In attendees, as AASB Board President Pete Hoepfner of Cordova looks on.
Legislation Introduced by Rep. Story would Increase the BSA

Juneau Representative Andi Story praised attendees for traveling to the state capital to be a voice for their children, families, and communities. Story said the legislature has been hearing from groups representing fisheries, oil and gas, tourism, mining, and other issues important to the state, but "not many people have been up on the hill talking about 'people power' which starts with our kids, our future workforce," she said.

Story has introduced two bills this session, HB 272 and HB 273, that aim to increase the Base Student Allocation (BSA). She recounted some of the opposing viewpoints school board members may hear when speaking to legislators:

  • We’re throwing money at children. Education is one of our highest costs. Not true, said Story. She said that data prepared by the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division shows that due to high inflation and a flat funded BSA, schools are actually spending less money. She encouraged attendees to read the documents associated with HB 272 - Increase Base Student Allocation for further details.
  • Our schools are failing. "So many wonderful things are happening in schools every day," Story said, "and you can give examples of that.”
  • Fixation on the NAEP scores. "This is one measure, but there are so many other measures that need to be taken into account,” she said. "We are not making proficiency in some areas in our schools, but we’ve got some growth measures going and we’re doing a lot of good things.” 
  • You have so much COVID money. Why should we give you more money now? You need to be ready to respond that COVID money is targeted, and describe what your district is spending those funds on, said Story. "The state needs to honor its constitutional responsibility to maintain our public schools."

She said there are lots of demands on the budget this year, and Alaska is lucky to have $800 million more in projected oil revenues. "If HB 272 passes and we increase the Base Student Allocation this year and next year, it would take 6% of that $800 million,” she said. “I think our students are worth 6% growth."
Update from D.C.
Pete Hoepfner, AASB BOD President, Cordova City School District

AASB Board President Pete Hoepfner provided a briefing regarding AASB’s Advocacy efforts at the Federal level. Each year AASB sends the board president and president-elect to Washington DC for the NSBA Equity & Advocacy Institute, and meetings with Alaska’s congressional delegation. This year Pete Hoepfner, Michael Swain, Lon Garrison, and Norm Wooten were able to attend. 

COVID has affected travel, as well as access to legislative buildings. The Capitol building was closed, and there was strict security at the doors. The AASB delegation could only be admitted to congressional offices by legislative staff they had scheduled meetings with.
Some of the proactive goals of NSBA include a resolutions process similar to AASB’s to identify legislative priorities. NSBA's top five priorities are:
  1. COVID Recovery - COVID is an environment we’re living in and it overlays every part of our lives. 
  2. Full funding of IDEA to free up resources in our districts - currently only receiving 15-17% of the 40% that was promised congressionally.
  3. Recruiting and retaining teachers.
  4. Closing the homework gap - even before COVID a lot of the issues were related to lack of broadband.
  5. Supporting America’s public schools - opposition to vouchers and full funding to public schools. 
2022 AASB delegation attending the NSBA Advocacy Institute in Washington D.C. (L to R) Pete Hoepfner, Michael Swain, Lon Garrison and Norm Wooten.
NSBA American Indian/Alaska Native Council Chair Michael Swain speaks at the Advocacy Institute
Alaska has long had consistent and engaged NSBA representation: 
  • Norm Wooten sat on the NSBA board for 10 years, and served one year as its president. 
  • Tiffany Jackson served on the NSBA Board of Directors. 
  • Michael Swain is currently Chair of the NSBA American Indian/Alaska Native Council. 
  • Pete Hoepfner has served on the NSBA board for the past two years and was recently nominated for another three year seat, in addition to being the current NSBA Pacific Region Representative. 
Hoepfner said that although NSBA has been through some turbulent times lately, things seem to be headed in the right direction. 

AASB Executive Lon Garrison added that there is unanimous support by the AASB Board of Directors for AASB to remain a member of NSBA and continue to be an active participant. "The board felt that AASB absolutely needs a national voice. We can’t do national advocacy work without them. They are our link to that work and an incredibly important partner," he said.

Hoepfner emphasized the need for Alaska school boards to have representation at both the state and national levels. "We all live in far-flung areas of the state and, like having AASB in Juneau with connections to the Alaska legislature, NSBA represents our interests in Washington D.C.” 

He closed by noting that education will be in the spotlight during the upcoming November election cycle and there will be numerous distracting side issues, including a push for vouchers and privatization. In light of these issues, he said, it's important to remember to "captivate with clarity," tell your story, and build relationships.
Norm Wooten discusses legislation with North Slope Borough School District Board President Nancy Rock.
Key Legislative Issues and Bill Review
Norm Wooten, AASB Director of Advocacy

AASB Advocacy Director Norm Wooten provided an overview and analysis of key legislation that is now moving through the committee process.

Of the 143 education-related bills AASB is tracking this session, Wooten focused his remarks on the following thirteen bills that have momentum and may have a chance of passing this session.
  • HB 18 – Teachers: National Board Certification – Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) 
  • HB 19 – Limited Teacher Certificate; Languages – Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka)
  • HB 60 – Public School Mental Health Education – Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage)
  • HB 164 – Early ED Programs; Reading; Virtual Ed – Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage)
  • HB 220 – Retirement Systems; Defined Benefits Option – Rep. Grier Hopkins (D-Fairbanks)
  • HB 259 – PFD’s 25/75 POMV Split – Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage)
  • HB 272 – Increase Base Student Allocation – Rep Andi Story (D-Juneau)
  • HB 273 – Increase Base Student Allocation Inflation – Rep. Andi Story (D-Juneau)
  • SB 34 – State-Tribal Education Compact Schools – Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak)
  • SB 72 – Secondary School Civics Education – Sen. Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak)
  • SB 80 – Public Schools Mental Health Education – Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage)
  • SB 111 – Alaska Academic Improvement and Modernization ACT – Senate Education Committee
  • SB 119 – Oath of Office – Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River)
Click on a bill number above to access each bill’s full text, fiscal notes, amendments, and other information. Click on the links below for additional details and Norm's analysis of each bill.

Please Note: Member password is required to access videos. Contact Jenni Lefing.
OMB Director Steininger explains Governor Dunleavy's FY23 Budget
Fly-In attendees hit the taco bar after a full morning of presentations and discussions.
Sunday Luncheon Keynote
Speaker: Neil Steininger, OMB Director

Office of Management and Budget Director Neil Steininger provided his perspective on Governor Dunleavy’s FY 2023 budget and Alaska’s projected fiscal future during the Sunday luncheon. In addition to school board members, students attending AASB's Youth Advocacy Institute were also present. 

Director Steininger began with an overview of the state’s current fiscal situation. He said in recent years Alaska has faced significant fiscal deficits as a result of constrained revenue. When the Governor took office in 2019 the state was facing a half billion dollar deficit going into the next fiscal year. He said the administration has been trying to work toward cost constraint in the operation of government, while also investing in necessary expenditures to deliver government services.

Between FY19 and FY23, the state budget has been reduced by 5% and revenue has rebounded by 5%, resulting in closing the fiscal gap the state has faced. Based on the most recent state revenue forecast, the FY23 budget has a $27 million surplus.
Steininger highlighted other budget changes over the past four years:

  • Reduced the overall UGF budget 5.1%
  • All state funds (UGF and DGF) down ~7%
  • Reduced agency operating budgets 2.2%
  • Approximately $100m UGF saved in retirement payments
  • Held Medicaid flat – Down $5m UGF
  • Reopened highway maintenance stations
  • Transitioned Alaska Marine Highway to a calendar year budget to provide schedule certainty
  • Made significant investments in public protection

He noted that traditional sources of state revenue have rebounded, such as oil, taxes, corporate income taxes, and investment revenue. The state has also increased its use of money from the Permanent Fund to pay for government operations and PFDs. 

The governor’s FY23 budget is roughly the same as FY22: flat. Savings from core obligations, such as payments into the state retirement system, were used to invest in things like public protection that hadn’t been able to be funded over the last several fiscal years. Now, because of available revenue, we're able to fully fund some of the state's statutory obligations, Steininger said.

Highlights of the Governor’s FY23 Budget:

  • 50/50 PFD without savings draws, deficit, or reductions to core programs
  • Mitigates impacts of the CBR Sweep 
  • Ensures the budget can be passed without a ¾ super-majority vote
  • Use available federal funding to maximize benefit to Alaska
  • Invest in economic development
  • Preserve UGF for future state needs
  • Run a full AMHS schedule
  • Over $30m operating UGF added for public protection
  • Fully fund school bond debt ($79.0m UGF) and REAA ($32.8 UGF)
  • Fund construction of a Napakiak K-12 school replacement
  • ($54.9m)
  • Fund scholarships, education grants, and WWAMI from UGF
  • $2.15 billion all funds capital budget
  • $719.9 million investment in capital projects from state, GO bond, and discretionary funds prepares us for influx of federal infrastructure money.

Steininger said the Administration has structured an FY23 budget that retains the Alaska scholarship Program, Alaska education grants, and the WWAMI medical education program, to make sure those programs are funded and those scholarships paid, regardless of what happens in the wider political discussion about the PFD and use of state funds.

Please Note: Member password is required to access videos. Contact Jenni Lefing.
Virtual Meetings with Legislators

During the week following the Fly-In, AASB hosted virtual meetings for school board members and superintendents to meet with the legislators who represent their districts. The Zoom meetings provided an opportunity for districts to discuss issues and share AASB and local priorities with lawmakers.

Throughout the meetings, legislators expressed gratitude that school board members are speaking with a unified voice on key education bills being decided on this session.
Rep. Sara Hannon told Southeast board members she was more optimistic about a BSA increase being passed in the House this session than in past years. She said HB 272 and HB 273 that would increase and inflation proof the BSA are now being heard by the House Education Committee and could move to House Finance this week. Rep. Hannon praised school board members for providing critical testimony on education bills this session. "You all have been doing a great job calling in," she said. "Keep it up."
Board members from Fairbanks and Yukon Flats met with Senator Myers and Rep. Lebon's staff. Priorities included increasing the BSA, teacher recruitment and retention at local and state levels, and replacement of a water tank in Chalkyitsik that has left the community without water since early January.
Regarding teacher retention, Sen. Myers said the Senate is proceeding with caution to ensure the state isn't stuck with a retirement system it can't pay for. "We want it to be in place 30-40 years from now," he said.
Speaker Stutes requests school board input on key bills

House Speaker Louise Stutes briefed board members from Cordova, Chugach, Kodiak and Kenai on the progress of several education-related bills currently moving through the committee process. "The House majority is definitely focused on education," she said. "You need a shot in the arm, we’re just not sure of the vehicle and dollar amount."

Rep. Stutes said she recognizes the critical need for Pre-K funding, a BSA increase, teacher retention incentives, and school building maintenance support. As legislative budget negotiations intensify, she encouraged school boards to contact her office with information about the impact that bills addressing these issues will have on their districts.

House Speaker's office email: Representative.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov or call
Toll Free 1-800-865-2487 .

Key bills to reference:
  • HB 272 – Increase Base Student Allocation
  • HB 273 – Increase Base Student Allocation Inflation
  • HB 259 – PFD’s 25/75 POMV Split – Rep. Ivy Spohnholz (D-Anchorage)
  • SB 111 – Alaska Academic Improvement and Modernization ACT
  • HB 164 – Early ED Programs; Reading; Virtual Ed
Anchorage board member Kelly Lessens explained ASD's fiscal shortfall to staff members from Senator Revak's and Representatives Spohnholz, Merrick, and Claman's offices. She said the district's budget is facing a $67 million "fiscal cliff" that will be impossible to resolve with cuts alone. COVID has created enrollment issues, and the resulting school closures are impacting the mental health of students and families. In addition, Lessons said federal funds will be needed to avoid teacher staffing issues in FY23. "We don’t have adequate funding to address student needs and need help," she said.
Rep. Dan Ortiz met with school board members and superintendents from six Southeast school districts whose remarks echoed a consistent theme: without legislative support this year for increased stable funding, their districts will be facing unprecedented levels of cuts to teachers, support staff, and programs. They said skyrocketing operational costs combined with inflation and years of flat funding have decreased districts' buying power and competitiveness. Rep. Ortiz said his House majority caucus strongly supports HB 272 & 273 (BSA increase) and HB 259 (25/75 POMV) that would provide consistent education funding.
School board members from North Slope and Western Alaska school districts met with Rep. Zulkosky and Rep. Patkotak to convey their priorities and concerns. Discussion centered on the critical need for a BSA increase, teacher recruitment and retention, reliable broadband, school bond debt reimbursement, major school maintenance projects, culturally responsive education and language revitalization, early childhood education and student menal health.

As a member of the House Education Committee, Rep. Zulkosky said the committee has been considering numerous bills that address many of the issues board members raised, including an increase to the BSA, the Alaska Reads Act, and tribal compacting. She said she has introduced a companion bill to Sen. Stevens' tribal compacting legislation that would pursue tribal compacting demonstration projects. Rep. Patkotak said the Alaska Reads Act has been movingforward, and he is keeping a watchful eye on HB 272 and HB 273 that would increase the BSA.
YAI attendees discussed issues facing students with legislators and state officials
AASB Youth Advocacy Institute organizer Tyler Breen leads students in a group activity.
Youth Advocacy Institute 2022 - Student Input for Positive Change
Tyler Breen, Community Engagement Educator

Between Feb. 12-14, 29 students from 12 districts across the state gathered in Juneau for this year’s Youth Advocacy Institute. Over the course of two days students had the opportunity to speak on issues facing their communities. 

YAI provides an opportunity for students and districts to practice the process of listening to student voice in the legislative process. Boards, districts, and programs benefit from hearing from our students and providing them with opportunities to build up their leadership skills. 

Click here for the full agenda of what students worked on for YAI sessions.
"I enjoyed getting to gather with other students from around the state and communicate on our problems in school.” - YAI Student
Students testifying on legislation for our guest panel (left) and asking questions to Commissioner Johnson (right) during the 2022 Youth Advocacy Institute.
YAI students represented and connected with other students from Anchorage, Copper River, Denali, Juneau, Kashunamiut, Kenai, North Slope, Northwest Arctic, Sitka, Skagway, Yukon Flats, and Yupiit. Together students:

  • Spoke with AK Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Johnson and our panel of legislators about the challenges they identified in their communities. Students asked prepared questions on the issues most important to them.
  • Reviewed HB 272, HB 273, and HB 19. These bills address changes to the Base Students Allocation and limited teacher certificates for teaching Alaska Native Languages. 
  • Students discussed how each bill might affect their communities and peers and provided testimony in front of peers and legislative partners.
  • Joined their board members while discussing legislative priorities for this year. School boards benefit from having student perspectives on policies and students benefit from building their confidence to be agents of change in their communities.

Students’ well thought out questions and our guests thoughtful responses led to a productive dialogue on issues facing students in our state. Students emphasized some of the needs in their school and among their peers. Student priorities include social-emotional learning and mental health, COVID Policies, infrastructure, law enforcement and safety, teacher recruitment and retention, as well as funding. Below you can read the questions that students developed our guests.

Student Questions for Commissioner Johnson and our Legislative Panel:

  • How can students/teachers create a culture of inclusivity? (from Anchorage and Juneau)
  • How can we teach SEL without it feeling forced? (from Copper River, Denali, and Skagway)
  • Is student mental health a priority in schools? (from Anchorage and Juneau)
  • How can we support student mental health, focusing on programs, resources, and accessibility? (from Northwest Arctic and North Slope)
  • How do you propose social and emotional development in schools across the state? (from Kenai and Sitka)
  • What SEL approaches are effective and engaging for school staff/students and are representative of Alaska? (from Copper River, Denali, and Skagway)
  • How can we build student confidence in schools? (from Kashunamiut, Yukon Flats, and Yupiit)
  • Are COVID regulations going to stay district based or state based? (from Anchorage and Juneau)
  • How can we fund and fix school and home water supply? (from Northwest Arctic and North Slope)
  • Alaskan schools are facing water shortages, power outages, and are in general need of repair. What are you doing as Commissioner/a legislator to address this? (from Kashunamiut, Yukon Flats, and Yupiit)
  • What policies or funding could support law enforcement? (from Northwest Arctic and North Slope)
  • How can we support law enforcement and programs for communities with substance abuse issues? (from Northwest Arctic and North Slope)
  • How do you plan to recruit and retain teachers in Alaska? (from Kenai and Sitka)
  • How can we fund more teachers and less technology? (from Copper River, Denali, and Skagway)
  • What is your opinion on the validity of HB272/273? If passed, will it give more learning opportunities and emotional support to students in AK schools? (from Kenai and Sitka)

Many of the issues that students identified to address were the same topics identified by their school boards. The weekend packed a lot of valuable experience and our boards got to hear the experiences and ideas of the people who they are all working to provide meaningful opportunities for - our students!
YAI students close with a group photo outside the Elizabeth Peratrovich Building.
“I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity. I came home with more knowledge on the Alaska legislative process.” - YAI Student
To continue supporting youth voice in your district, consider having a youth representative on your school board. Youth on Boards is a great resource that can help with supporting and uplifting youth voice on our boards. Reach out to Tyler Breen for more information or support for youth leadership programming. 
A Free AND Ordered Space: Soooo….What Should We Talk About? Constructing the Agenda
Lea Filippi of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

In Alaska, local school boards have broad responsibility for providing an educational program for school aged children. AS 14.14.090. Boards do that work through meeting.

Meetings are a quintessential example of the necessity of finding appropriate balance between freedom to speak openly on matters of great importance to the local community and the order necessary to ensure a board is able to meaningfully deliberate and make decisions necessary to fulfilling its important role.
Lea Filippi
State law governs certain aspects of board meetings. For example, boards must keep minutes of their meetings and conduct meetings in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. But many details of how a board conducts its meetings are left to be determined by the board through written bylaws. AS 14.14.100.

This article encourages boards to look closely at the existing bylaws governing the conduct of their meetings and, in particular, to consider whether its bylaws regarding development of an agenda for each meeting should be updated.

How to be objective about subjective comments
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
What can you do when your colleagues on a board or council say things that you find offensive? What if they are making subjective statements that hurt your feelings? We are living in tough times for civility. People feel free to say things during meetings that can be offensive and challenging.

Robert’s Rules of Order offers a simple solution to the problem of subjective, offensive or hurtful remarks during a meeting. It works like this:

Q: If our Board loses a quorum during an Executive Session, can action be taken when we return to the open meeting?

Our Board moved to go into Executive Session, but one person left during the Executive Session and we lost our quorum. When the Board returned to the open meeting, would we have been able to take any action? We didn’t because we weren't sure what to do.

A: Your Board was able to hold an Executive Session, since it had a quorum when it began. However, returning to the open meeting without a quorum meant the board could not vote on any decisions made during the Executive Session. Your board took the correct approach by not taking any action.
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.
Helping students prepare for life
after high school

Since time immemorial, Alaskans have been teaching their children the skills needed to survive and thrive in our unique environments. Those skills may look different in modern society, but research indicates that connecting to culture, family, and community values is a powerful way to motivate students to pursue training and education.

This edition of the STEPS newsletter explores how helping students understand who they are and where they are headed can help build the foundation for a vibrant future.
Photo: Renee Culp
Identity is a critical and often overlooked element of college readiness

By fostering a strong sense of cultural identity - who you are, where you are from, and where you are headed - STEPS partners are helping to create a stronger bridge to postsecondary.

To this end, STEPS partners are working on the Postsecondary Bridging Framework to map and plan how schools, families, and communities can support students transition in a more holistic way.

The Framework outlines a way to systemically support each student in 6th through 12th grade to understand themselves and their goals.

It is grounded in a holistic approach that builds on a range of mentoring, life, and academic experiences to foster the confidence and skills (navigation), sense of self (identity), and preparation (academics) needed to successfully pursue postsecondary opportunities.

If you’d like to get involved with piloting and refining the Bridging Framework, contact Emily Ferry, eferry@aasb.org.
Data shows disconnect between available jobs and Alaskans who are ready for them; it also points to things we can do to help more students get ready

The Alaska Department of Labor predicts that 65% of jobs in Alaska will require a postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. However, only 54% of working age Alaskans and just 39% of people who are Alaska Native have those degrees.

Meanwhile Alaska also has the highest rate of disconnected youth - young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither working nor in school - of any state, according to Measure of America. Alaska is also last in the nation when it comes to the number of high school graduates who enroll, persist and complete college. 

The data on Alaska’s postsecondary outcomes is startling and disheartening. Yet if it can inspire us to take action, it’s important to consider and share.

To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
Engaging in at least an hour of physical activity together each day builds your child's physical skills, confidence in their capabilities,
and a stronger bond with you. 💪

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

Applications Now Being Accepted!

Senator Murkowski's High School Internship Program

All Alaskan high school students in their senior year may apply for the opportunity to spend three to four weeks in Senator Murkowski's Washington, D.C. office. The Senator will select a total of twelve students from all areas of Alaska to participate in two separate, 3-4 week sessions (6 students per session). Housing and transportation will be coordinated by the Senator's office, but interns will be responsible for the cost. Interns will be paid a small stipend.

This internship offers a unique opportunity for graduating Alaska high school seniors to learn about the United States Senate, gain valuable experience in a professional office, and live in one of America’s most historic cities.

Program Dates:
  • First Session: June 6 through June 24, 2022
  • Second Session: July 11 through August 5, 2022

Application Deadline:
Sunday, March 13, 2022
11:59 p.m. Alaska Standard Time

There is no GPA threshold and no requirement of being interested in political science. Senator Murkowski is looking for independent, inquisitive, and mature young Alaskans who want to make the most of this unique experience. Please share this opportunity with your graduating high school seniors. 

March 1-3, 2022; 8:30 AM – 12:00 PM/Each Day
Live on Zoom

Keynote Speakers:
  • Mandy Savitz-Romer, Director, Prevention Science and Practice Program; Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Duane Mayes, Director, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • Rebecca Braun, Consultant; McKinley Research Group

The Alaska Postsecondary Access & Completion Network is thrilled to bring together colleagues and partners from across Alaska for its 8th Annual AlaskaCAN! Conference! 

The overarching mission of AlaskaCAN is to develop strategic partnerships with the goal of increasing the percentage of Alaskans who complete postsecondary education to 65% by 2025, in support of a robust and thriving Alaskan economy.

This year's conference theme, Innovation, Accessibility, & Flexibility in Education: Making It Work will highlight gaps and solutions to help more individuals reach postsecondary success and help build a strong workforce. Reaching our goal of 65% of Alaskans credentialed by 2025 is beneficial to all of our organizations, and good for Alaska! Join us as we discuss how we can work together to make this a reality.  

Full Conference Attendance Scholarships available for Students!
March 3, Noon - 1 p.m.
Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, Juneau

Register for the in-person luncheon event
A livestream will be available at noon at www.alaska.edu/pres/sou.

For more than a century, the University of Alaska system has provided education and resources to build our state. Interim President Pitney will discuss how Alaska’s three universities are expanding access to higher education to:
  • Prepare our future workforce
  • Incubate ideas, support businesses, and generate over one billion dollars in economic activity
  • Provide the skills and scientific knowledge needed to address Alaska’s and the world’s biggest challenges
  • Promote inclusion and success of Alaska’s first peoples, celebrate rich cultural traditions, and incorporate Indigenous knowledge.

Following the event, the recorded video will be available available here

This program is supported in part by the University of Alaska Foundation.

For questions, contact: UA Office of Public Affairs, 907-223-9908 or email cdstalzer@alaska.edu.
School Health ECHO Webinars

The School Health ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for professionals in the education setting (administrators, school-based nurses, etc.) to interface with a team of medical and education experts in Alaska. This series is focused on health considerations, answering questions related to Educational & School settings, and establishing a safe school environment during this critical time.

Weekly sessions will continue to include Covid-19 updates, but have now expanded to include other topics impacting school health, including mental health, chronic illness, violence prevention, substance misuse, and environmental health.

Upcoming Webinar Dates

  • March 7, 2022 03:00 PM
  • March 14, 2022 03:00 PM
  • March 21, 2022 03:00 PM
  • April 4, 2022 03:00 PM
  • April 11, 2022 03:00 PM
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.
OPINION: Learning to read is a human right
Senator Tom Begich

When I came to Juneau when I was first elected to the State Senate, my first goal was to ensure every child in Alaska gained access to high-quality, culturally responsive, locally driven early learning, also known as universal, voluntary pre-kindergarten.

Over the years, my understanding of early learning has expanded.
Senator Tom Begich
Photo: Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
I’ve learned that high-quality pre-kindergarten has the power to improve high school graduation rates, increase lifetime earnings, and improve health outcomes. I’ve learned that students enter school more prepared and ready to learn in the communities where our State has supported pre-kindergarten through annual grants. And, I’ve learned that right now, less than 11% of our children have access to this culturally responsive, locally designed, high-quality pre-K.

The Alaska Reads Act is groundbreaking in its approach. Not only does it affirm a student’s right to learn to read, but it declares in no uncertain terms that reading interventions must be individualized and culturally responsive. We’ve added inclusive definitions of parent/guardian, directed our state’s education department to work with districts to ensure their screening tools work in whatever language their students are learning in, and included funding to strengthen our education system in direct answer to the landmark Moore court decision.

OPINION: Working together to improve Alaska’s educational opportunities and outcomes
Representative Chris Tuck

As a father, former school board member, and state representative, I have always judged public policy by its impacts on families and the future. I am convinced the state of Alaska must do more to support public education, especially early learning. That’s why I accepted the challenge of guiding the Alaska Reads Act through the Alaska House of Representatives.
Representative Chris Tuck.
Photo: James Brooks / ADN
The overarching goal of the Alaska Reads Act is to expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten across the state of Alaska and support all children being able to read proficiently by the end of third grade. This would be done by building upon Alaska’s already successful pre-K grant program and establishing a new evidence-based reading program to support Alaska’s lowest-performing schools. It will also put Alaska in a great place to take advantage of additional federal funding for pre-K and other forms of early education.

I have faith in the committee process, where representatives and senators work to refine, change, and often enhance the policy they are tasked to consider. Despite some recent criticisms, the Alaska Reads Act has been made better through thoughtful amendments in the House Education Committee, where the bill is currently being considered.

Legislative intent language was added to the bill affirming the right of students to learn to read in multiple languages. We made it very clear that nothing in the Alaska Reads Act limits a school district’s ability to focus on literacy education in multiple languages.

OPINION: Alaska can’t move forward if we ignore the state’s future leaders
By Griffin Plush, Genevieve Mina, Jackson Blackwell and 24 other young Alaskans

Sixteen years ago, 55 young Alaskans from across the state joined together for the inaugural Conference of Young Alaskans (COYA), emulating the spirit of Alaska’s 1955 Constitutional Convention to discuss pressing issues facing the state’s future. Last August, we followed in their footsteps for the first COYA focused on the strengths and future of local government.
The flags of Alaska and the United States
fly in front of the Alaska State Capitol.
Photo: Loren Holmes, ADN Archive
Our generation has grown up watching Alaska’s shift from years of cruising easily on the status quo into recent years of unstable education funding, brain drain among our peers, and the ongoing climate crisis. We are tremendously grateful for the work and advocacy of public servants to leave us a brighter world, but their ongoing efforts have not been enough to ameliorate the challenges being passed down to us. Consequential investment in Alaska’s future requires consistently embracing youth voices in decision-making processes.

If your work is in community or politics, create spaces and invite young people to share their vision. To those who have young Alaskans in your life or as part of your organization, you have the power to elevate our voices and help us challenge the failing status quo.

Students appeal Superior Court ruling on higher education funds
Peter Segall, Juneau Empire

University of Alaska students on Friday appealed a decision from an Anchorage Superior Court judge that sided with Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s decision to subject higher education scholarship funding to a state accounting mechanism known as “the sweep,” which annually empties state accounts. Students argued the decision to subject the Higher Education Investment Fund to the sweep violated state law.
University of Alaska Southeast campus.
Photo: Peter Segall, Juneau Empire
The sweep moves funds to the Constitutional Budget Reserve and requires a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to reverse, a vote recent Legislatures haven’t been able to achieve because of political divisions.

The suit stems from a decision by former Attorney General Kevin Clarkson and former Office of Management and Budget Director Donna Arduin to subject the Higher Education Investment Fund to the sweep, a position not taken by previous administrations.

Congressman Don Young introduces legislation to provide support for homeless and foster students
KINY, Juneau

Alaska Congressman Don Young along with other congressional leaders introduced the Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act to remove barriers and provide support to help students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care access and succeed in higher education.
Congressman Don Young. Photo: KINY
The Higher Education Access and Success for Homeless and Foster Youth Act asks colleges and universities to work with the federal government to improve outreach to and resources for students experiencing homelessness and students in foster care, including helping students access housing options between terms, and designating liaisons to help provide services for these vulnerable students.

Alaska congressional delegation details benefits of federal infrastructure law to state lawmakers
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media

Alaska’s congressional delegation told state lawmakers that the state has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the recently passed federal infrastructure law.

Rep. Don Young defended the law against Republican critics. He said it will send Alaska $6,000 per resident for transportation infrastructure, the most of any state. He proposed that legislators work with the delegation in a joint oversight committee to ensure that Alaska projects are funded and built in a timely manner.
Members of the House Labor and Commerce Committee listen to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sen. Dan Sullivan, and Rep. Don Young speak via teleconference about the new federal infrastructure law. Photo: Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO / Alaska Public Media
Sen. Lisa Murkowski said it was unique for the delegation to speak to a state legislative committee, and it showed how unprecedented the law is. She was part of a small bipartisan group of senators who spent last year working on the bill. She said it included benefits for each state, including the Alaska Marine Highway System, and the state government must seize the opportunity provided by the bill.

Sen. Dan Sullivan said he opposed pieces of the bill but said it would help Alaska. He said the state will receive 34% more money for its highways than in the last federal highway bill, and the estimated $1.5 billion in broadband funding for Alaska is significant.

AFN President Kitka Testifies in Support of State-Tribal Education Compacting Before Senate Education Committee
AFN / Alaska Native News

Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) President Julie Kitka testified before the Alaska State Senate Committee on Education in support of legislation that will authorize the Commissioner of Education and Early Development to establish a demonstration project for the creation of state-tribal compact schools.
AFN President Julie Kitka testifies in front of Alaska State Senate Committee on Education. Image-Gavel Alaska video screenshot
Working in partnership with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development AFN, Alaska’s largest statewide Native organization, has been working to investigate and identify legal and practical pathways toward a state-tribal compact with Alaska Natives to operate and run schools in their local communities.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is for Alaska’s tribes and tribally empowered Alaska Native organizations to have the opportunity to partner with the state of Alaska to carry out educational programs, functions, services, and activities to better meet the education needs of Alaska Native students. SB 34 by Senator Gary Stevens would provide the authorization necessary for the demonstration project to move forward.

Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program’s Acceleration Academy concludes successful first semester in Bethel
Alaska Native News

The Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program’s full-time Acceleration Academy (Bethel) completed a successful first semester with 20 students from the Lower Kuskokwim School District earning a total of 216 college credits.
Image: ANSEP
Introduced in fall 2021, this component gives students the unique opportunity to get their high school diploma while simultaneously earning free college credits toward a bachelor’s degree in any field of study they choose.

What first started as a summer opportunity has blossomed into one of ANSEP’s most successful and impactful components, now available in Anchorage, Bethel and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. Across all three campuses, just last semester 95 students earned 840 college credits. The success of ANSEP’s full-time Acceleration Academy component in Bethel semester shows the component’s scalability to other communities both in and outside of Alaska.

When the Bully Is an Adult
Cynthia Kleinheksel & Richard Geisel

When we think of the word bully, do we automatically envision a student in our schools? What if the bully is actually an adult?

An online survey was completed by 324 Michigan K-12 educators and staff from over 100 school districts and public school academies throughout the state.

In it, over 27% of respondents indicated they felt bullied in their K-12 workplace by another adult during the first seven months of the school year. Also, 41% indicated one or more adults in their buildings were being bullied by another adult.
Is adult-on-adult bullying in the workplace happening in your district? What does a school leader do with that information?

Nonprofit foundation looks to raise scholarship funds in name of Anchorage’s first Black teacher and principal
Lauren Maxwell, Alaska's News Source

Dr. Etheldra Davis was a pioneer in Anchorage. In 1959, Davis became the first Black teacher hired by the Anchorage School District. Davis taught at a number of Anchorage elementary schools before being hired as the district’s first Black principal at Fairview Elementary in 1969.
Dr. Etheldra Davis graduating from UAF
Image: KTUU
She retired from the district in 1980 and died in 2020. In September 2021, the Anchorage School Board voted to rename Fairview Elementary to Dr. Etheldra Davis Fairview Elementary School in her honor. Andrea Davis-Antoine attended Fairview Elementary as a child when her mother was the principal there.

“Finding out that she was the first Black principal hired, that was kind of unique because I don’t think that really set in until I was a little older,” Davis-Antoine said.
But as Davis-Antoine grew, she realized what a force her mother was in the community, volunteering, sitting on boards and always working with youth.

“Every child can learn, that was her main thing,” said Davis-Antoine. “And so she felt that any child, whether they had other obstacles in their life, that they could always learn and be taught and succeed in life.”

Get to know your Capitol: Explore the building’s over 100 years of history
Peter Segall, Juneau Empire

The Alaska State Capitol is located in downtown Juneau and is one of 11 capitol buildings in the U.S. without a domed roof. Construction on the building began in 1929 and was originally called the Federal and Territorial Building, according to a history of the building by the Legislative Affairs Agency. It was dedicated on Feb. 14, 1931.
Senate Finance located on the 5th floor
The marble found in the columns in front of the building and through the Capitol was taken from quarries on Prince of Wales Island. The House of Representatives, Senate and governor all have offices in the building, and several buildings around the Capitol house additional legislative staff and offices.

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.
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media

The Anchorage School District’s preliminary budget for next year would use federal money to fill a $67 million gap to avoid cutting jobs and increasing class sizes. The Anchorage School Board will vote on the district’s preliminary budget later this month. School District Superintendent Deena Bishop told the board that inflation, lower enrollment and a lack of state funding led to the projected budget gap for the 2022-23 school year. State legislators haven’t increased the base student allocation — the amount of money per student a district receives — since 2017. The state provided one-time funds in fiscal years 2019 and 2020, but did not in 2021 or 2022. The funding the district is proposing to use is federal COVID relief money.
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media

The Anchorage School Board on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a three-year contract for teachers. School board member Dave Donley was the only no vote. He said there were several changes he wanted to see in the contract, including longer school days.

Board member Andy Holleman said approving the contract would help show teachers that they’re appreciated.
“Whatever the board does, whatever the administration does, every morning on a weekday it falls on teachers to make it work,” he said at the board Tuesday evening meeting. “I think at times we forget that. We just have to give more credit to what has to be done in the classroom to make it happen every day.”

The Anchorage Education Association teachers union voted last week to ratify the contract. It includes salary increases and more opportunities for teachers to move across the pay scale. On average, salaries will increase about 2% each year. It also changes how teachers are compensated for covering other classes, and allows more teachers to contribute to a supplemental retirement plan.
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News

Candidates for Anchorage Assembly and school board are revving up their campaigns as the April 5 municipal election approaches, and a large amount of money is flowing toward several of them. Year-start reports were due to the state Friday, showing campaign donations and expenses up to Feb. 1, 2022.
Megan Pacer, Alaska's News Source

Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop announced Friday that the school district will transition away from requiring masking and make it optional for students and staff later this month. In a letter sent out to families Friday afternoon, Bishop said the district-wide change will take place on Feb. 28.
“As a career educator, I understand how critical it is to focus the District’s energy on student learning,” Bishop wrote in the letter. “I believe that continued mandatory mask wearing is counter-productive and negatively impacts our students’ education, intellectual development, and emotional well-being.”
Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District administrators briefly highlighted potential layoffs during a board of education regular meeting. The “reduction in force” plan calls for the potential layoff of 47 full-time elementary teachers, 21 full-time secondary school teachers, and a career and technical education teacher. The plan, according to Chief School Administrator Karen Melin, is part of the annual budget process required under Alaska state statute.
Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A handful of concerned Fairbanks residents sounded off about contract negotiations during public testimony at Tuesday’s board of education meeting.Concerns ranged from elimination of key clauses in the district’s initial offer to the unions, a lack of salary increases, and what some considered a step back in health care benefits.
Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District officials gave a detailed preview on what new school boundaries will look like following the approved closures of Joy and Nordale Elementary schools during a board of education work session. Karen Melin, the district’s chief school administrator, said the district wants to get information out as soon as possible given the sensitive nature of school boundaries. The decision to close the three schools, and repurpose the Nordale building, is part of an effort to save $3 million a year.
KINY Juneau

Members of the Juneau School Board were updated on the repairs at Riverbend Elementry school, which was inundated with water last month after a pipe burst. Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss said they are addressing the damage. "What's going to happen at Riverbend is we will be putting down some temporary flooring, the drywall will be replaced, there's a lot of cabinetry damage. Unfortunately, the replacement of the cabinetry isn't going to be available due to supply issues until the following summer, not this summer but next summer. So this is going to be a long-term project no matter what," she said.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

Hundreds of teaching contracts were approved Monday by the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education in a move that came earlier in the year than expected and is meant to offer a sense of stability to district staff. Union representatives and board members were among those who praised early approval of contracts during the board’s Monday night meeting, but concern remained about the long-term ability of the district to recruit and retain quality staff. Those concerns have been present throughout the school year
Sabine Poux, KDLL Kenai

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education greenlit an update to its policy for dealing with discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality, including clearer guidelines about what constitutes discrimination and a training requirement so staff know how to recognize and respond to it. Title IX is a federal policy that sets standards for dealing with discrimination in schools. Historically, the 1972 policy has been used to protect female students from discrimination in sports and the classroom. Today, Title IX covers discrimination both on the basis of gender and sexuality, meaning students and staff on the LGBTQ+ spectrum are also protected.
Eric Stone, KRBD Ketchikan

Ketchikan’s school board has selected the principal of a rural school in Southwest Alaska as the district’s next superintendent of schools. Michael Robbins is the principal of a K-12 school in Toksook Bay, a coastal community of roughly 550 more than 100 miles southwest of Bethel in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Before that, he was a principal and special services director in Syracuse, New York. He says he has more than 25 years of experience in education. Robbins was one of three candidates interviewed for the job. He told the board that in his roughly three years in Toksook Bay, the school’s graduation rate has climbed from roughly 40% to 90%.
Alex Appel, Kodiak Daily Mirror

The second time’s a charm for Cyndy Mika. She was one of the top three contenders for superintendent of the Kodiak Island Borough School District in 2017. On Tuesday, she finally got the job. “It's exciting,” Mika said. “There's something about Kodiak that just pulled on my heart strings. I felt like I could be a part of the community, and it was someplace where I could raise my son.”
Dylan Simard, KMXT Kodiak

Larry LeDoux, the superintendent for KIBSD, recently announced that he plans to retire. That’s a problem for him- it represents yet another position he needs to fill. “We have an assistant superintendent position open. We have a director of facilities open, we have a high school principal position open. And it’s possible we could have others as the year progresses, you never know,” LeDoux said. The lack of staff has been exacerbated by the pandemic. District schools closed intermittently in January due to teacher illness and administrative staff were pulled to teach classes. LeDoux says Alaska doesn’t attract teachers like it used to. Salaries aren’t particularly high compared to other states, according to LeDoux, and the state’s retirement package isn’t competitive either. The prospect of living in Alaska, especially on an island, is a barrier to many.
Alex Appel, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Even though COVID cases are dropping, the mandatory masking policy will remain in Kodiak Island Borough schools for the time being, according to Superintendent Larry LeDoux. On Wednesday, the Emergency Operations Center reported 167 known, active cases of COVID. This is 11% more than the number of cases the EOC reported on Monday but 34% less than the number of cases reported on Feb. 2. Kodiak is still at a high risk level based on the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ standards.
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK Bethel

This school year, over half of the Kuspuk School District’s entire teaching staff is from the Philippines. And nearly all of them are new to the U.S. Rovan Agad teaches math and coaches junior varsity basketball at the Aniak high school. He’s happy to be here, finally connecting with his students in person. He arrived from the Philippines in October 2021.
Alena Naiden, Arctic Sounder

A former principal at Point Lay's school Brett Stirling made a coaster with controversial engravings that prompted a heated discussion in the community and led to his termination. Stirling said he was printing the coaster at Point Lay's Kali School on the evening of Jan. 26 when one of the school custodians saw him and took a photo of the coaster design. The coaster had a North Slope Borough School District logo in the center - three children in traditional Alaska Native attire - surrounded by phrases "Striving for excrement," "New stupid behaviors started daily" and "Congratulations! You survived the NSBSD. Time for a f-king drink."
Robert Woolsey, KCAW Sitka

The Sitka School District will have to wrestle down a $2 million dollar deficit next year, and it’s looking for the city’s help. Starting the annual budget process in the hole is not unusual for the district – in fact, it’s usually the case – but it always prompts hard conversations about how to make ends meet. The Sitka School Board and the Sitka Assembly met in special session to take a look at school finances, which are the single largest expense of city government.
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Patrick Enslow, Alaska's News Source

The buzz around the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics is high for the Service High School Partners club as they look forward to cheering on U.S. cross-country skier Gus Schumacher. The Special Olympics partners club pairs students, with and without intellectual disabilities, through unified sports. Before Schumacher was chasing Olympic gold, he was a member of the Service partners club.
Austin Sjong, Alaska's News Source

The No. 1 seeded Dimond Lynx boys hockey team has been disqualified from the Cook Inlet Conference hockey tournament after playing an academically ineligible player in the regular season. The Alaska School Activities Association has a set criteria for academic eligibility. Student athletes have to maintain a 2.0 GPA and pass five classes in a semester to remain eligible.
Raegan Miller, Ketchikan Daily News

Six Ketchikan students spent about an hour on Thursday evening on the Ketchikan High School auditorium stage, vying for the top spot as the Ketchikan School District's Scripps spelling bee winner, with Houghtaling Elementary School sixth-grader Thierry Oyedeji emerging from 15 rounds of spelling as the district's winner for the fourth consecutive year. Oyedeji will now advance to the state-level competition, held virtually next month, for a chance to go on to nationals.
Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News

Members of Ketchikan High School’s pep club apologized for “cultural insensitivity” after dressing up as cowboys for a high school boys basketball game against Metlakatla last weekend. The pep club’s decision to dress in a “country” theme for Saturday’s game in Ketchikan was widely seen as an affront to players and parents from Metlakatla, an Indigenous community in Southeast Alaska that is the state’s only Native American reserve.
Klas Stolpe, KINY Juneau

Athletes from Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé circulated a petition in the school commons over their lunch period seeking to have the upcoming Region V basketball tournament moved from Ketchikan following allegations of racism raised during a recent game between Ketchikan and Metlakatla. JDHS girls basketball team captain Rebekah Grube said she was concerned that lessons had not been learned following that game.
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
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