Voices of Alaska Education
Newsletter of the Association of Alaska School Boards
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

Norm Wooten
AASB Executive Director
. .
Lori Grassgreen
Alaska ICE Director
What It Means to Be a School Board Member
February is School Board Recognition Month. The Governor typically issues a proclamation recognizing school boards for their service. But perhaps its time to delve deeper.
AASB 2018 Legislative Priorities
The AASB Board of Directors has chosen the following six priority areas for its 2018 legislative advocacy focus.  
Funding Award Supports "Cradle to Career" Collaboration in SE
AASB, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and 20+ district and community partners will work to achieve ten key results for  Southeast communities.
TV Announcements Highlight Innovative District Projects
To illustrate how school districts are working to create transformational change and address fiscal challenges, the Association of Alaska School Boards, the Alaska Superintendents Association, 11 districts, and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development  partnered to produce a series of nine 30 second television announcements that are airing statewide on Gavel Alaska TV during the 2018 Legislative session.
Alaska's Education Challenge: A Shared Vision for Meaningful Change  
DEED Commissioner Michael Johnson speaks at Alaska's Education Challenge press conference, January 30, 2018
Flanked by Governor Walker, Lt. Governor Mallott, legislators, members of the State Board of Education, school board members, district superintendents, and members of numerous education and cultural organizations, DEED Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson called upon school boards, tribes, educators, communities, and parents to build upon Alaska's Education Challenge and work together to implement meaningful change to the state's education system.
Support Alaska's Education Challenge - Pass a Board Resolution
To build unity and support around Alaska's Education Challenge, AASB is encouraging school districts to pass a resolution supporting the following three Commitments:
  • Increase Student Success
  • Cultivate Safety and Well-Being
  • Support Responsible and Reflective Learners
We've provided a sample resolution to use as a template for drafting your own.
Wrangell Public School District Board Member and City Accounting Generalist/Deputy Clerk 
Aleisha Mollen
Each month Commentary will feature a different board member's story, as told in their own words. Many dedicated Alaskans from all walks of life have chosen to support their communities and youth by serving on a local school board. There is inspiration and fellowship in learning how a person's culture, life events, personal philosophies, influential teachers, or career choices have motivated them to serve. This month we profile Aleisha Mollen from Wrangell Public School District.  
Guest Columns
Leaders Help Shape the Path   
By Zaretta Hammond, Teacher, Educator, Author of culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain  
Zaretta Hammond
There's a quote that says, "For things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently." The operative word in this quote is "act."  
To become a culturally responsive school district, school board members and district leaders need to be the catalyst to get people to do new things.
3 Minute Read >
We Need to Honor Indigenous Teachers  
By Kent Fielding, Skagway High School English and History teacher, Finalist for 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year  
Kent Fielding
Many of my former students from Mt. Edgecumbe are either teachers, work in schools, or sit on school boards, and so I asked them: "How do we honor educators in Rural Areas?" The answers I received were not just about honoring teachers but also about respecting culture and empowering local communities. As I'm not an Indigenous Alaskan, I'd like to present some voices from rural Alaska.
"Can we start our school board meetings with a prayer?"
By Clint Campion of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC 
Clint Campion
Part Four of a four part review of the Freedom of Expression in Schools.
In this installment, we focus on freedom of expression for school board members. Does a school board violate the Constitution if it opens its meetings with a prayer? What if the prayer does not suggest a particular faith?
Read the entire series: 
Part three: Free Speech Rights of School Employees by Allen Clendaniel 
School Health Profiles Survey - A Spotlight on School Health Policies and Practices  
By Wendy Hamilton, School Health Program Manager /Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Alaska Division of Public Health 
Wendy Hamilton
Ever wondered how many secondary schools sell candy in vending machines, school stores or snack bars? Or how many schools require grade 6-12 students to take a health education course? These important indicators of school health, and many more, are surveyed in the biennial School Health Profiles surveys conducted in Alaska every even year since 1996 by the Department of Education and Early Development and the Department of Health and Social Services. 
AASB Events
Mark your calendar! Registration information coming soon!

Senate Education Chairman Wants Budget by April 1
By Naomi Klouda, Alaska Journal of Commerce  
Senator Gary Stevens
April 1 would become a new self-imposed deadline for the Alaska Legislature to pass the education budget if Senate Bill 131 by Sen. Gary Stevens becomes law.
School districts may favor such an idea after three years of not knowing their budgets until well after their school years ended. State law requires layoff notices in two tiers - one for tenured and one for regular teachers - prior to the end of the school year, which is generally the third week of May.
4 Minute Read > 
School Board Lists Requests, Priorities Ahead of Legislative Session
By Alex McCarthy, Juneau Empire
Mark Miller
Juneau Superintendent
Juneau board members approved seven Capitol priorities, including their pledge of support for Senate Bill 131 proposed by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak. School districts are required to submit their budgets by a certain deadline, often earlier than when the Legislature passes its state budget. This gap creates great uncertainty among school districts as they put together their budgets and go through contract negotiations with teachers and staff. Passing SB 131, the board agreed, could make each school district's budget process a little less stressful.
3 Minute Read >
Alaska Legislator Introduces Net Neutrality Bill
By  Erin Granger, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 
Rep. Scott Kawasaki
Alaska lawmakers are taking the issue of net neutrality into their own hands. Fairbanks Democratic Rep. Scott Kawasaki introduced a bill, House Bill 277, earlier this week that would protect net neutrality rules for Alaskan internet users. Now two senators are planning to introduce a joint resolution intended to send a message to Congress that Alaska does not support the repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules. If passed, the bill would allow the state to be able to regulate as if it were the federal government when it comes to broadband internet service providers within the state's borders. [Sen. Murkowski] said the repeal of net neutrality rules has the potential to greatly affect Alaska in a number of areas including education and tele-health.
PEAKS Test Adds Writing Analysis Portion
By Kat Sorensen, Peninsula Clarion 
The Performance Evaluation for Alaska's Schools, or PEAKS, test will feature a new prompt in the English language arts section for grades four through nine this spring. The Text-Dependent Analysis, or TDA, is a written question based on a passage, or multiple passages, read by the students, according to a release from the Alaska Department of Education. 
2 Minute Read >
Feds: Ravn Ramp Agents Stole More Than 300 Computers Destined for Rural Schools
By Anchorage Daily News    
In a large-scale case of mail theft, at least six Ravn airline ramp agents stole more than 300 Apple computers meant for rural schools between 2015 and 2017, according to a federal indictment handed up Tuesday. Their thefts totaled more than $489,000, the indictment said. The six have been charged with conspiring to steal mail.
1 Minute Read >
King Career Center to Transform into High School If Board Approves
King Career Center student Matt Cronquist competes for Culinary Arts judges in the 2017 Alaska State Skills USA championships.
A new technical vocational high school planned for Anchorage could involve hundreds of new partnership opportunities for local businesses to help shape an emerging workforce. Plans for the King Career Center, to be expanded and renamed the Martin Luther King Jr. Technical High School, are set to launch in August if approved Jan. 22 by the Anchorage School Board.
The move could give businesses a greater investment in increasing Alaska's high school graduation rates. Currently, Anchorage is at 81.4 percent, up from 2016's 79.7 percent.  
UPDATE: King Tech High was officially approved by Anchorage school board Jan. 22.
School District Seeks Public Input on Technical Education
By Julia Laude, Webcenter11.com
Daniel Domke
CTE Director
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is looking for the public's help in building the future of Alaska's Career and Technical Education. CTE classes can range from focus in the Medical field, to culinary arts, to computer programming. Each high school in the district has its own set of classes, with over 100 provided throughout the borough - and some classes even offer college credit after completion.    
Watch 1:30 Report >
Mat-Su School Board Approves New Contract for Superintendent  
By Tim Rockey, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
Dr. Monica Goyette,
Mat-Su Superintendent
The Mat-Su Borough School District met for the first time in 2018 with a variety of topics from student safety to new classes and a new contract for the superintendent. Dr. Monica Goyette's contract as superintendent was unanimously approved by the Mat-Su School Board to keep her on until June 30, 2021.
New Principal/Teacher Steps into Midyear Vacancy at Ekwok School 
Monica Turrentine,
Ekwok School Principal
Ekwok "Sonny Nelson" School has a new principal and teacher. Monica Turrentine stepped into the role at the beginning of December, two weeks before the winter break began. The previous principal and only certified teacher resigned and moved out of state in November due to an unforeseen family situation. For about a month, substitutes took on the teaching and administration responsibilities. The school has 15 students, ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade. 
1 Minute Read >
Dzantik'I Heeni Assistant Principal Wins Statewide Award 
By Juneau Empire 
The Juneau School Board and the Alaska Council of School Administrators present Kristy Germain with Assistant Principal of the Year award.
After an increase of activities available to Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School Students in recent years, a statewide organization recognized the efforts of the school's assistant principal.  
The Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) recently selected DHMS Assistant Principal Kristy Germain as the Region V Assistant Principal of the Year. Specifically, the association honored Germain for her success in creating opportunities for her students. 
1 Minute Read >
Fairbanks School Bus Routes at Full Strength  
By Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 
Photo: Eric Engman
School bus routes will be at full strength on Monday, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has announced. That means some children will have a new time that they catch the bus and a new bus number starting Monday. A school bus driver shortage caused the district to reduce service and combine some routes in September. The situation has been remedied, according to Lisa Pearce, the district's chief financial officer. 
2 Minute Read >
Anchorage School District and teachers union reach tentative contract - again
By Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News    
Anchorage educators silently cheer during Board meeting.
The Anchorage School District and the local teachers union have reached another tentative one-year contract agreement, after teachers rejected an earlier version of the proposal, the district announced Friday. The Anchorage School Board and the teachers themselves still must ratify the tentative agreement before it takes effect. The newest contract proposal is largely similar to the one the teachers union shot down in November.
3 Minute Read >
James Harris: Final Farewell to 2017 Teacher of the Year
By Caitlin Weaver, YourAlaskaLink.com 
James Harris,  
2017 Teacher of the Year
Soldotna English teacher, James Harris was recognized on the 50 yard line of the college football championships - just one of the spectacular things he's done in his year. But for Harris, this journey hasn't been about travels or adventures - it's about advocating. Education is constantly a debate state and nationwide - what the best practices are, what topics need to be covered, and who should teach it. He also expressed that he truly believes Alaska's education system is slowly but surely headed in the right direction. 
Watch 2:19 Report >
3rd Annual PLAAY Summit - A Conference for Leaders of Youth
February 23rd and 24th, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage 
The PLAAY Summit provides teachers, parents, nurses, coaches, administrators and other leaders of youth with a conference to address the many areas of adolescent health. The PLAAY Summit will emphasize the importance of physical activity as a means to improving teenage health.
Native languages in danger of extinction by 2100
By Shady Grove Oliver, Arctic Sounder

Alaska Native Languages
Map from alaskool.org
Alaska's Native languages are in crisis and it's up to the state and its residents to preserve, restore and rejuvenate them. That's the message of the Alaska Native Language Preservation and Advisory Council's 2018 biennial report. According to the council's research, if the rate of decline of indigenous language speakers continues as it has since the 1970s, every single one may lose its last fluent speaker by the end of this century.
New Superintendent's/Principal's Toolkit on Using National Service to Strengthen Schools and Student Success 
Toolkit shows how to leverage National Service resources
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and national service programs like AmeriCorps and Senior Corps want to help your district or school - together we can improve academic achievement, student attendance, and on-time graduation rates.  With federal funding from CNCS, schools across the country are using this proven source of human capital to help students succeed in school and in life.  
3 Minute Read >
Twenty-Five Apply to Be Haines' School Superintendent
Haines School
Applications to be Haines' new school superintendent are in - and more than two dozen people are hoping to be chosen. Applicants run the gamut from a current school employee, to a school psychologist in Wisconsin, to a principal from Glennallen. They include current superintendents across Alaska and the Lower 48. Interim Superintendent Rich Carlson says the response was better than he'd expected.
2 Minute Read >
What's Happening In Your District? 
Include Your News in Commentary! 
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings
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