Lon Garrison

The Coming Hostage Crisis -

Accountability or no BSA


Timi Tullis

Why be a Member?


Jenni Lefing

Advocating Together in Juneau!

Connor Meyer

2023 Youth Advocacy Institute Recap


Emily Ferry

New AASB Webinar Series Helps Districts Plan Impactful Postsecondary Strategies



Commentary Newsletter Archive

AASB 2023 Legislative Priorities

Registration Now Open!

Webinar Topics and Registration

Webinar Topics and Registration



The Coming Hostage Crisis - Accountability or no BSA

Lon Garrison, Executive Director, AASB

For several weeks, a positive vibe has been present at the Capitol regarding the possibility of passing a significant increase to the Base Student Allocation (BSA). So far, a Senate bill, SB 52, a $1,000 increase to the BSA, was introduced by Senator Löki Tobin, Chair of the Senate Education Committee. HB 65, calling for a $1250 increase, was introduced to the House Education Committee by Representative Dan Ortiz. SB 52 has garnered broad support from the Senate bipartisan majority and some cautions from Senate Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman. Senator Stedman wisely reminded folks at a Senate Majority press availability that it will still come down to determining how the legislature carves up a limited and uncertain revenue pie. It can be done, but hard choices will have to made. 

There seems to be general support for increased education funding on the House side. Still, some voices cast doubt on the effectiveness of providing the dollars via our current system to educate students. The mantra of “why throw more money at a failing system” is based on student achievement data showing Alaska’s students faring poorly on standardized testing and little success in transitioning students to postsecondary opportunities.


AASB and ACSA Affirm Every Child Counts

AASB and ACSA issued issued a joint statement in response to recent questions posed by an Alaska House of Representatives member during a House Judiciary Committee meeting this past week. The incident brought to light that at least one elected state official was willing to question the value of the lives of abused children versus the perceived economic benefit if those children were to perish and not require state support. 




Why be a Member?

Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director

Recently, while speaking to a current superintendent, he said “AASB is like insurance; when things are going well you may wonder why pay the dues, BUT when there is an issue that involves the Board or policies the district is SO fortunate to have AASB there to assist during those difficult times.” I had never thought of us like that before but I concur. Membership with AASB can help during all times, but especially during challenging circumstances.

During these tough budget times, we know that some districts 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! 



New AASB Webinar Series Helps Districts Plan Impactful Postsecondary Strategies

Emily Ferry, Collective Impact Coordinator

AASB recently launched the How Do You Know Webinar Series by exploring data sources that can help districts take a closer look at how their students are faring after they graduate. Check out the video for a great explanation of how Mount Edgecumbe high school uses data from the National Student Clearinghouse to see if they are on track with their goal of having 70% of students enroll in some sort of postsecondary opportunity within a year of graduating from high school.

Or take a look at the slides to see how you can access postsecondary enrollment rates by reviewing the Report Card for your district from Department of Education and Early Development.


AASB Awarded Grant for Multi-District Partnership to Build Strong School-Community Relationships

AASB has been awarded grant funding through the Department of Education's Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grant. Over the next five years, the award of $14 million will fund the Southeast Alaska Full Service Community Schools project dedicated to meeting Alaska's students' social, emotional, and academic needs.

A full-service community schools model will be used to provide key supports for students, families, and communities to improve schools' kinder transitions, early childhood case management, postsecondary support, language learning and cultural programs.

AASB will partner with Chatham School District, Hydaburg School District, Juneau School District, Yakutat School District, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sealaska Heritage Institute and AWARE- Haa Tóoch Lichéesh, a violence prevention non-profit.

AASB Awarded Funding to Implement Trauma-Engaged Practices in Alaska Schools

The U.S. Department of Education’s Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program awarded AASB $4 million over five years to support a new project called Project Transform: A Trauma-Engaged Approach to Improve Social, Emotional, and Academic Outcomes.

Project Transform is a partnership between AASB and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to improve student academic, behavioral, and social-emotional learning outcomes. The delivery of professional learning and practices will support schools and educators in using a Trauma-Engaged School (TES) approach in the classroom.

The Transforming Schools framework, developed in Alaska with input from more than 200 school staff members, Tribal members, and families, will be used to help build schools’ capacity to implement a TES approach in five school districts: Chatham, Copper River, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Lower Kuskokwim.

RELATED: Grant Roundup: Senator Murkowski Announces Federal Grants Heading to Alaska


Registration Now Open!

Plan to join us for AASB’s Spring Boardsmanship Academy April 15-16 at the Anchorage Hilton. This academy has been developed from input from school board members around the state. We hope you will join us to:

  • Hear updates on the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development Alaska Reads Act.
  • Continue conversations around AASB's Legislative Priorities and How to Continue to Advocate!
  • Build your boardsmanship skills (building a positive board culture, self-evaluation, conduct/ethics).
  • Connect with school board members from around the state!


Friday, April 7 at 5:00 pm

After April 7, districts will incur a late registration fee



Advocating Together in Juneau!

Jenni Lefing, Membership Services Manager

AASB’s February Legislative Fly-In was well-attended this year, with over 150 school board members, students and superintendents from 31 districts. The weekend was focused entirely on learning how to be effective education advocates for AASB's three 2023 legislative priorities: Funding, Students, and Educators.

A highlight of the weekend was guest presenter Marissa Rathbone, Director of Strategic Advocacy at the Washington State School Directors’ Association She brought her experience working in education and state government for over 25 years and shared with attendees a well-developed set of advocacy skills. Here are her key takeaways for being an effective advocate:


Over 150 school board members, superintendents and students gathered in Juneau at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall to hone their advocacy skills and carry their message to lawmakers.

Marissa Rathbone, Director of Strategic Advocacy at the Washington State School Directors Association, led advocacy skill building sessions.

AASB Executive Director Lon Garrison and Advocacy Director Norm Wooten briefed attendees on session context and key education-related bills that have been introduced.

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Löki Tobin provided an overview of the Senate's priorities this session, which include an increase to the BSA.

Fly-In Attendee Testimony Adds Urgency to BSA Discussion

Chair Sen. Löki Tobin scheduled a special meeting of the Senate Education Committee that coincided with AASB's Legislative Fly-In to hear first-hand the challenges districts are facing as a result of years of flat funding and rising inflation. School board members, superintendents, teachers, and students from across the state packed the room to advocate for three primary areas of concern:

  • Sufficient and Sustainable Funding for Public Education
  • Retention and Recruitment of Educators and Staff
  • Student Wellness and Safety

Collectively, the stories and data presented described a statewide public school system in need of immediate attention. Much of the testimony centered on support for two bills: SB 52 - Increase Base Student allocation, and SB 24 - Public Schools: Mental Health Education. Watch the meeting here.

2023 Youth Advocacy Institute Recap

Connor Meyer, Community Engagement Educator

We all are working to support students to be successful, but do we know what they need to be successful? What personal, interpersonal, or community supports or challenges impact them the most. What can school districts, Legislators, and organizations do to support Alaska students?

Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI) is a unique opportunity for students from across Alaska to convene in Juneau once a year to learn advocacy skills, share their views on the building blocks for student success, and learn more about the legislative inner-workings. 

On February 4-7, 55 students exchanged ideas with other students, worked to develop testimony and positions with their school district, and learned about current bills and how to pass a bill.


Students share personal stories of their school experience

Students attending AASB's Youth Advocacy Institute described to the Senate Education Committee how the loss of learning opportunities, extracurricular activities, and teachers is affecting their connection to school and commitment to learning. Here are key excerpts from their testimonies.

Jowielle Corpuz, Juneau

Corpuz said her education opportunities are different than when her older siblings attended high school. As Vice President of the Alaska Association of Student Government and parliamentarian for her school's student council, she hears complaints about programs being cut and underfunded from students statewide. "Students have lost interest in attending a school that doesn’t provide what we all need and want." she said. "Please fund our future better, because what we have is not enough."

Watch Jowielle's testimony (2 mins)

Felix Meyers, Sitka

"Our schools are at a breaking point," Meyers said. "If we don’t do something now we will see the effects for decades." He gave three reasons why public education should not be underfunded:

1) Cutting teachers and programs removes student motivation to come to come to school and engage in things they are passionate about.

2) Alaska's non-competitive retirement system provides no incentive for teachers.

3) Student mental heath issues are causing loss of connection and lives.

Watch Felix's testimony (4 mins)

Ethan Merculieff, Mt. Edgecumbe

As a person with diagnosed depression, Merculieff testified in support of SB 24 - Public Schools: Mental Health Education, with amendments. He said SB 24 is a step in the right direction but is far from what is needed to correct the state and national mental health crisis. Sen. Gray-Jackson, the bill's sponsor, asked to meet with Ethan to discuss amendments that would improve the bill.

Watch Ethan's testimony (2 min)

Mika Bell, Anchorage

"We need to stop viewing this budget crisis with a reductionist mindset," Bell told legislators. Now a sophomore, she said the BSA has been flat funded since she was a fourth grader. "I am a 4.0 student," she said. "Why should I put in all this effort if I’m not supported? I beg you, please believe in us. If you want results, you need to invest in us. If you invest in us, we will return that investment."

Watch Mika's testimony (3 min)

AASB Legislative Fly-In & Youth Advocacy Institute Resources

Many thanks to all who attended the Fly-In and Youth Advocacy Institute! Representing your district is critical to legislative advocacy efforts.

Click the button to access Fly-In resource materials and presentation slides.


NEW! Legislative Testimony Templates

AASB has created two templates for use in submitting written testimony to the legislature. We've included a Legislative Testimony Guide, along with a fillable PDF testimony template and a Microsoft Word testimony template that can be edited to use for your own testimony. Our hope is to make it easier for you to respond to a call-to-action for testimony on a pending bill.

Feel free to share these resources with your staff, students, parents, and community members.

Thanks for your advocacy for Alaska's public schools!

2023 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! Mark your calendar and plan to attend!


Upcoming Webinar Topics

  • Mar 7 - Funding Formula with DEED
  • Mar 14 - The Board and the Budget
  • Mar 21 - Board Policy:Development and Governance
  • Mar 28 - Working with your Board
  • Apr 11 - Working with your Community 
  • Apr 25 - Holding Your Meeting Remotely

Upcoming Webinar Topics

  • Mar 16 - How are our schools doing implementing trauma engaged approaches?
  • Apr 20 - How are our schools doing applying an equity lens?

"How do you know?" Webinar Series

In the “How do you know?” webinar series AASB’s Conditions for Learning team will walk you through easy-to-access data sources and approaches to understanding where you’re at with these types of initiatives and how to move forward for maximum impact.

Cultivating the conditions for learning means ensuring that every student has what they need in order to learn effectively. Research shows that students learn best when they feel safe, supported and engaged. Read more about the conditions for learning in the September Commentary.



Top Five Board Policies that might be out of date 

“Fine Tuning” Episode 7 (Now with Practice Pointers!)

John Ptacin, Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

One of the School Board’s most important duties is to adopt policies for the School District. Your Board Policies set expectations for superintendents, teachers, students, parents, and your communities. 

A good set of Board Policies explain almost every facet of District life. They announce the Board’s vision, establish which processes belong to whom, and how you adjudicate important issues of the day. 

As with any set of rules, policies can become outdated if not reviewed at reasonable intervals. School Boards should schedule a review of at least one section of the policies annually to ensure they reflect your Board’s vision for the District.


Robert’s Rules succeed in high school classroom

Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian

Meetings involve a group in making important decisions. At the student-group level, elected or volunteer student officers run the meeting. Every student has an opportunity to propose actions, talk for or against proposals, and vote on their dispositions—democracy in action.

Meetings are run by the rules of parliamentary procedure or other established procedures, thus ensuring that each person has equal rights and voice. Meetings build skills for decision-making in organizations. Schools now have student councils that make decisions, but few decisions affect the operation of the school.


How does a board determine conflict of interest on a vote?

Answer: For the most part, the Board President can rule on this, though they can be influenced by the board. For example:

 Mr. Jonson, Board Member: I declare I may have a conflict of interest. One of the names on the perspective hire list is my sister. She and I have completely separate households, and separate finances, but do have a familial link. 

Board Chair: Thank you member Jonson. What are the feelings of the board?

Board member 2: I don’t see this link as being a conflict of interest because there is no financial benefit to member Jonson. 

Board member 3: I agree. 

Board Chair: Are there any other comments? (Pause). Hearing none, I rule there is no conflict of interest for member Jonson, and member Jonson may vote 

Should the debate go the other way, the ruling would be to declare there IS a conflict of interest, and member Jonson should recuse themselves from voting. 

Got a question? Email Timi Tullis, Tiffany Jackson, or Jenni Lefing



McClain J. "Mack" Easton Memorial Scholarship

The Alaska Association of Business Officials (ALASBO) and NANA Management Services (NMS) are offering two $1,000 scholarships this year to graduating high school seniors. The applicant must intend to enroll in an accredited 2 or 4-year college or university in a degree related course of study or a vocational education program. The scholarship is named for a former ALASBO member. Information, scholarship guidelines, and application are available at these links: Easton Guidelines ALASBO Easton Scholarship Application Easton Bio [PDF]

Joan Hamilton Memorial Scholarship

The ACLU of Alaska is accepting applications for this year's Joan Hamilton Memorial Scholarship, which offers up to $2,500 per academic year to support three students who wish to pursue a career related to the law, become advocates of Alaska Native rights, and defend the constitutional rights and civil liberties of the peoples of rural Alaska. Joan Hamilton, a Cup'ik Eskimo, was a tireless advocate for rural and Alaska Native rights and was instrumental in the ACLU recognition of Native rights advocates.

We must receive your complete application by Wednesday, March 1, 4 p.m. Questions? Call the ACLU of Alaska at 907-258-0044.

Joan Hamilton

Alaska Reads Act

Implementation Webinars

Focus: District Reading Intervention

Now through May, DEED is hosting weekly hour-long webinars to take a deeper dive into the Alaska Reads Act.

The webinars will focus on each of the four programmatic parts of the Alaska Reads Act, as well teacher certification, data collections, and application to world and Alaska Language programs.

Webinars are scheduled for 3:15-4:15 PM

Schedule & Registration

Join the Conversation!

Help shape the future of reading

for students in Alaska

Calling all teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, parents, board members, and community members. The planning has officially begun for our second annual Alaska Science of Reading Symposium! 

Day 1: Celebrating Success

Day 2: Connecting Knowledge to Application

Day 3: Empowering Educators

Information & Registration


Luke Meinert

Luke Meinert selected as next superintendent

Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Luke Meinert will lead the school district as the next Fairbanks North Star School District Superintendent. The Board of Education made its announcement after three hours of interviews and three hours of executive session. The three finalists included Meinert, Sitka School District Superintendent Frank Hauser, and Ryan Scallon, an assistant superintendent with the School District of Philadelphia.

Read More

Bridget Weiss

Departing Juneau Superintendent tapped to be first-ever liaison for UA program to recruit, train teachers

Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire

Juneau superintendent Bridget Weiss has been named the first-ever liaison for the University of Alaska College of Education Consortium, which works on collaborative efforts between various university programs as well as the state’s public school system. Among her new challenges will be luring more high schoolers to become teachers and motivating them to pursue careers in Alaska. Weiss’ last scheduled day as superintendent is June 30 and she officially begins her new job July 1.

Read More

Bill Hill

Bristol Bay Superintendent Bill Hill reflects on remarkable journey at the school

Isabelle Ross, KUCB

Bristol Bay Borough School District Superintendent Bill Hill said leading the school system in his hometown for a decade came with pros and cons. “The blessing is that you get to work with and for the people you grew up with,” he said, laughing. “And then the curse is that you're also working for and with the people you grew up with.” Hill is stepping down from the job at the end of the year, ready to welcome the new ideas and skill set of his replacement.

Read More

Related: Bristol Bay Borough to consider finalists from near and far for the next superintendent

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.

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Learn More or Contact Us


Anchorage – Anchorage School Board passes a budget that largely relies on savings and one-time funds – Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media

Delta/Greely – Small school packs a big punch for Army families at remote Alaska outpost – Ronald Bailey, DVIDS

Dillingham – Dillingham Elementary School will keep its principal, but concerns about learning persist – Izzy Ross, KDLG

Fairbanks – School board briefly considers retaining a ‘student outcomes’ coach – Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Juneau – Report: Juneau schools see sharp uptick in students experiencing homelessness – Clarise Larson, Juneau Empire

Kenai – School budget debate draws attention to home-school enrollment – Ashlyn O’Hara, Peninsula Clarion

Ketchikan – Bills in Legislature could offer a lifeline as Ketchikan’s school district considers layoffs – Eric Stone, KRBD

Kodiak – KIBSD’s Mika: ‘not where we want to be in reading’ – Caleb Oswel, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Lower Kuskokwim – Newtok school adjusting to new routine after fire – Nolin Ainsworth, Alaska’s News Source

Petersburg – Petersburg Schools concerned about student absences – Rachel Cassandra, KFSK

Yupiit – Tuluksak educators plead for help after a week without running water – Rashah McChesney, KYUK

More Alaska School District News


Rising costs, flat funding hammering school districts, state senators told - Tim Bradner, Frontiersman

Alaska educators voice support for proposed $1,000 funding increase per student – Katie Anastas, KTOO

Alaska senators say $1,000 increase to per student funding is “beginning of a conversation” – Lisa Phu, alaska Beacon

Alaska college scholarship sees record-low acceptance rates – Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News

Catching Up: Researchers Track 6,000 Alaskans’ Paths After Their 2005 High School Graduations – Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon

Senate majority discusses education staffing difficulties – Elena Symmes, Alaska’s News Source

Alaska’s state retirement system shows a benefits gap compared to old pension plan – James Brooks, Alaska Beacon

Most of the US is dealing with a teaching shortage, but the data isn’t so simple – Arthur Jones II, ABC News

In response to labor shortage, Dunleavy removes degree requirement for most state jobs – Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon

In homecoming address to state legislators, Peltola praises the ‘Alaska model’ of bipartisanship – Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

Grant Roundup: Senator Murkowski Announces Federal Grants Heading to Alaska – Senator Lisa Murkowski

More State and Federal News

Association of Alaska School Boards  |

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