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 February Conferences - Register Now!
  • Leadership Institute & Legislative Fly-In
  • Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI)
  • February is School Board Appreciation Month - Resources
  • First-term Board Member Webinar Series - Register Now!
  • SCCS Update!
  • Join Us for Thoughtful Thursdays - Register Now!
  • Maintenance Employees Conference - Resources
  • AASB January Webinar Series - Resources
  • Trauma Engaged Social Media - Resources
  • June Nelson Scholarship Apply Now!
  • John Ptacin - A Free AND Ordered Space
  • Ann Macfarlane - Jurassic Parliament
  • Ask AASB
  • Bulletin Board
  • Federal, State, & District News
Leadership Through Communication
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

The art of effective communication can be hard to master. I know I constantly worry, are my communications with staff, partners, and stakeholders clear and compelling? Am I crafting and presenting my messages with clarity? Am I being responsive and considerate of my audience? Does my communication support the leadership role of my position and that of AASB? I hope it does, but I am sure you will agree, we can always use a little help.

The season of communication leadership is upon us. The next few months will be critical as we advocate for public education needs with our legislature, the Governor, our Congressional delegation, and most importantly, your communities and stakeholders. There are some critical issues the legislature has the opportunity to address. Your voices as locally elected school board members along with parents, community members, local businesses, and others will be crucial in advancing legislation to support and fund public education in Alaska.

Here are a few tips that are a good foundation for creating messages that can help lead others to support our cause, educating Alaska’s students.

February Leadership & Legislative Fly-In – in person!
Jenni Lefing, AASB School Climate and Conference Coordinator

AASB is looking forward to hosting its first in-person Leadership & Legislative Fly-In since 2020, to be held February 12-14 in Juneau. AASB’s fly-ins offer a unique opportunity for education advocates from around the state to come together to learn about what is currently driving the legislature, and how together, school board members can engage legislators in crafting solutions to the challenges districts face.

Saturday’s Leadership Day is focused on different aspects of school board leadership. The day will open with a civil discourse on being a board in challenging times with DEED Commissioner Michael Johnson and attorney John Sedor. This will be followed with sessions on effective meetings and tools to support your board, including setting a board calendar. policies, and superintendent evaluations.

The Legislative Day, Sunday, February 13, will inform you of what’s happening in the legislature this session. Afternoon district forums will then provide opportunities for school boards—and students attending AASB’s Youth Advocacy Institute—to discuss legislative priorities and identify talking points, in order to speak with a unified voice to advocate for education.

We are also thrilled to be able to host our Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI), where high school students develop skills in legislative advocacy while connecting with youth leaders and school boards from across the state.

Alaska Statewide Mentor Project Helps Increase Teacher Effectiveness and Retention
Sue McIntosh, Program Manager
Alaska Statewide Mentor Project

Wouldn’t it be great for Alaska’s early career teachers to have personalized support from a full-release, experienced Alaskan teacher?

Well, there’s terrific news on that front!

Since 2003, the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project (ASMP) has given that gift of non-evaluative support to Alaskan’s early career teachers (ECT). We provide instructional mentoring for each ECT’s first and second year of teaching, based on reflective practice, equity and cultural relevance, high expectations, ongoing inquiry, and collaboration. Over the past 18 years, ASMP mentors have served in 52 of the 54 school districts in Alaska.

The Alaska Statewide Mentor Project exists to lift up and support the profession of teaching in Alaska. The project develops an effective teaching force that is responsive to the diverse academic needs and cultural backgrounds of all students.

Leadership Academy & Legislative Fly-In
Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, Juneau
February 12-14, 2022
$510 per person

Event Details
Leadership Academy
Saturday, February 12

The Unique Position of the Board President
This year’s Leadership Academy day will focus on the unique position of the Board President and aspects of leadership and practice.

Commissioner Michael Johnson and school law attorney John Sedor will join other presenters for a full day of excellent boardsmanship training, and the rollout of the newly developed Board President Handbook.

Legislative Fly-In
Sunday, February 13 – Monday, February 14

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

We encourage in-person attendance for the attendee's greatest benefit. 
However, if you are unable to attend in person, a one-day virtual option is available. Please reach out to AASB at aasb@aasb.org for more information on this option.
Youth Advocacy Institute
Sunday, February 13 – Monday, February 14

The AASB Youth Advocacy Institute is designed for high school students, especially sophomores and juniors, who want to be immersed in the Alaska legislative process.

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

For questions or more details on YAI, reach out to Tyler Breen.
$320 per person
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.
School Board Appreciation Month 2022

The Association of Alaska School Boards Board of Directors has declared February to be School Board Recognition Month. The goal is to build awareness and understanding in your community and schools of the crucial function an elected school board plays in a representative democracy.

As citizen advocates, individual board members face a complex, and often demanding job; yet few people fully understand the scope and far-reaching implications of board members’ responsibilities. All Alaska citizens should recognize the important contributions of these men and women and focus attention on the vital role these public officials play in the education of our children.

The resource materials included below can be downloaded and customized for use in your school district. Please contact AASB if you have any questions. Email Heather Shaw or call 907-463-1660.

Thanks for all you do!

School District Resources

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!

Webinar Series Schedule
Click session titles for information and registration

Completed 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).

Jan 18 - Welcome to the Board and AASB Board Standards - Slides | Video
Jan 25 - School Law Basics - Video
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
Join fellow educators for a viewing of the mini-series on "Skills for Resiliency and Connection," led by Vanessa Meade, LCSW, Assistant Professor from UAA. Each week we will view a short video on developing our skills and leave the remainder of the time for reflection and connection with one another.
Thursdays @ 4pm, February 3rd - February 24th
AASB Maintenance Employees Conference

AASB and Alaska Public Entities Insurance (APEI) teamed up to host the 8th annual Maintenance Employees Conference, January 12-13 at the Lakefront Anchorage. The two-day conference focused on school district maintenance issues and safety procedures.

Click the button below to access slideshows, handouts, and other resource materials.
AASB January Webinar Series

In case you missed any of these informative January webinars hosted by AASB staff, we've got you covered! Click the links below to access slides and video recordings of the entire lunchtime presentation series.
Politics: The Art of Compromise
Norm Wooten, AASB Advocacy Director

Learn how to be an effective advocate for public education and find out what to expect during the 2nd session of the 32nd Alaska State Legislature.

Alaska’s Trauma-Engaged Resources: Transforming Our Schools During the Pandemic and Beyond
Heather Coulehan & Lisa Worl

Explore existing and new tools in Alaska’s Transforming Schools suite of trauma-engaged resources, new milestone guides, and an Alaska-based video library that can help districts shift from “knowing to doing.”

Board Conduct: The Good, The Bad,
& The Ugly
Timi Tullis & Tiffany Jackson

With different personalities, opinions and ways of expressing themselves, boards may sometimes find themselves in difficult meetings, or having to deal with conflict. Learn about tools to handle conflict, identifying your role in maintaining board conduct, more.

Calling all Trauma Engaged School Champions
to Spread the Word!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When A Free AND Ordered Space Is Protected by Ping-Pong Balls
John Ptacin, Member, Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

Commissioner Michael Johnson described a Free and Ordered Space as the tension needed to operate as a society, a school board, or a school. That same tension is at play in our Nation.

We are historically unique in that we have a federal system (with checks and balances) overlaid on 50 states – each with its own sets of checks and balances.
John Ptacin
The checks and balances in the Federal System include, of course, US agencies (under the President) and the courts. We have 12 Circuit Courts each with jurisdictional limitations and each subject to US Supreme Court appeal.

A news-worthy example of the tension at play in our free and ordered space recently unfolded following President Biden’s declaration of the vaccine-or-test rule.

Are your meetings seven hours long?
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
This strange time of COVID-19 is producing some strange situations. We hear reports of local government meetings lasting far into the night, in some cases taking as long as 7 hours. (See this article about San Jose California). Does this happen to you? Are your meetings too long? If yes, what can be done to bring meetings back to a human scale? Here are our suggestions.

Q: Does AASB keep record of the standing committees that each district's board members serve on?

I'm hoping to start a conversation with our board about our committees, with the intention of evaluating our need, establishing committees in response to the need, creating an identified charge for each committee, and setting expectations for each committee that would carry through each election cycle (such as group membership, minimum meeting count, chairmanship, etc). For our discussion, I think it would be helpful to review a quick survey of committees that other school boards felt were necessary to complete the work of the board.
A: AASB doesn't keep a compiled list of all school board standing committees statewide. However, if your district is a subscriber to AASB's Policy Online service, your administration would be allowed to check to see what committees other school board Policy Online subscribers have. If your board requests the information, AASB can easily walk a district's executive admin through a search. 

Here are some examples of standing committees some other Alaska school boards have, the most common ones being Policy and Finance:

  • Education
  • Fiance
  • Public Relations
  • Policy
  • Executive
  • Facilities
  • Personnel
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at Ask AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
Bundle up and get outside even for a short period of time. No matter what the season or the weather, there's always something interesting to explore. Pointing, poking, and asking questions can help spark curiosity and build learning muscles.

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

Don’t miss the next installment of GCI’s Ask Me Anything webinar series on satellite technology for education. From GEOs to LEOs, learn how connectivity can support the schools in your community.
Join us
Thursday, February 3rd, 2022 from 12 to 1 p.m.
for a live ‘Ask Me Anything’ webinar

Learn more about satellite connectivity for education in Alaska!

The discussion will feature:
  • Moderator: Annette “AJ” Jones, GCI’s VP of Healthcare and Education
  • Paloma Hawn, GCI Senior Manager, Complex Delivery Engineering
  • Billy Wailand, GCI Senior VP of Corporate Development
Ask your questions anonymously here before the event, or ask live during the webinar.
ANTHC invites Alaska Native and American Indian students interested in research to apply for our paid internship openings. While working in ANTHC’s Research Services department, interns will gain hands-on research skills and learn more about careers in science, public health, and Tribal health organizations. Interns will work with professional staff on existing projects and be engaged in day-to-day operations in an office environment.

  • Internship openings Intern Level 2 or Level 4 – Research Services.
  • 2022 Internship Dates: May 23 to July 29 (10 weeks).
  • Application period: January 3rd, 2022 – February 25, 2022.
  • Interns are encouraged to attend the Alaska Indigenous Research Program Week 3: Introductory Research from May 16-20, 2022. More information here.
  • Limited travel scholarships are available to selected applicants to travel to and from Anchorage, Alaska.
  • A limited number of shared housing opportunities will be provided by Alaska Pacific University in their campus residence halls.
2022 Summer Internship Zoom Informational Sessions
For more information contact:
Tim Flynn (he/him/his), Internship Coordinator - Research Services
Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
3900 Ambassador Dr., Ste. 201 Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 764-5770 | tjflynn@anthc.org | www.anthc.org
Office of K-12 Outreach, University of Alaska Fairbanks

We are looking for experienced educators with a track record of collaborating with other educators, who display a serious willingness to learn, and are flexible and resourceful. Candidates must also have a working knowledge of virtual communication technology tools and be willing to learn and use online applications as an essential piece of this work.


If this Scope of Work looks like a contracted position you would LOVE to deliver, please complete this application and return all documents digitally to:
uaf-asmp@alaska.edu by February 1, 2022.

To qualify you must
  1. Have a minimum of eight years’ ALASKA teaching experience
  2. Have (and maintain) a current Alaska teaching certificate
  3. Be fully released from school district obligations
  4. Be willing to travel to remote/rural Alaska, i.e.
  5. Able to lift heavy luggage,
  6. Travel by small plane, ATV, snow machine, etc.
  7. Be absent from your home for extended periods of time
  8. Attend monthly online and quarterly online or in-person training (in Anchorage or Fairbanks)

Please submit your Application Packet by February 1, 2022
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
  • Feb 7, 2022 03:00 PM
  • Feb 14, 2022 03:00 PM
  • Feb 28, 2022 03:00 PM
  • Mar 7, 2022 03:00 PM
  • Mar 14, 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.
Who wants to lead America’s school districts? Anyone? Anyone?
Neal Morton and Jackie Valley, The Hechinger Report

Nationally, about 25 percent of superintendents have made the decision to leave their posts in the past year, compared to a typical turnover rate of 14 to 16 percent, according to the American Association of School Administrators. In Alaska, the state’s school administrators association estimated that superintendent turnover is nearing 30 percent.
Members of the Elko County Nevada School Board attend a meeting to discuss the appointment of an interim superintendent
Photo: Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent
As many as 1,500 to 2,000 superintendents have stepped away after delaying their retirement during the first year of the pandemic, estimated Michael Collins, president of Ray and Associates, a national search firm that consults with school boards to find new leaders.

Altogether, the ongoing impact of Covid-19, coupled with political turmoil at the local level, has likely added as many as 3,000 vacancies beyond normal attrition during the last and current school years in the approximately 13,500 public school districts in the U.S., Collins said.

Lon Garrison, who heads the Association of Alaska School Boards, has urged members to try to act more respectfully to each other and to administrators. He said that he recently worked with a school district that had cycled through six different superintendents in just four years.

“In today’s world, anybody can see how you behave,” Garrison said. “And with boards where there’s been a lot of controversy or board members who create some havoc, they have a harder time recruiting those top candidates.”

Department of Education launches dashboard for Alaska K-12 education COVID relief funding
KINY Juneau

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development launched a new webpage and dashboards to show how COVID relief funds for education in Alaska are being utilized.

Beginning with the CARES Act in March 2020, Congress passed three COVID relief bills, which included funds for educational institutions to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, Congress allocated Alaska more than $620 million for education.

The Alaska K-12 Education COVID-19 Federal Relief Funding Dashboard includes information on funding for individual districts, DEED, the Office of the Governor, and non-public schools. Information on the dashboard includes award amounts and expenditures, timelines of funding availability, and project descriptions.

In the state’s largest school districts, families wait for last year’s food assistance
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media Anchorage

Tisha Pike lives in Eagle River with her son, who’s in second grade. Before the pandemic, he got free lunches at his school, Birchwood ABC Elementary. Then, schools went online, and she had to spend more on groceries.

She got reimbursed for those groceries through a federal program called the Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer Program, or P-EBT.
Meena Yang, 4, carries breakfast and lunch from the school bus in Glencaren Court in East Anchorage on Friday, March, 20, 2020. Photo: Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media
Students were eligible for P-EBT if they were enrolled in their school’s free or reduced-price meal program, and if the school closed due to COVID. In the Anchorage School District, nearly 14,000 students — about a third of students in the district — meet the requirements for free and reduced meals.

Anthony Reinert, the SNAP Outreach Manager for the Food Bank of Alaska, said it’s meant to make up for those lost meals "This is not a benefit in the traditional sense — this is a reimbursement,” he said.

President Biden Approves Alaska Disaster Declaration
The White House

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Alaska and ordered Federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, and mudslides from October 29 to November 1, 2021.

Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides, and mudslides in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

New COVID-19 Testing Options
Congressman Don Young


COVID-19 case counts continue to spike nationwide, driven primarily from of the virus's latest variant, Omicron. I have heard from many Alaskans with urgent questions on how to successfully secure a COVID-19 test. Testing kits have been in short supply, but there are two new options to help Alaskans get COVID-19 rapid antigen tests starting this week.

Whether you need to rule out COVID-19 for a school-aged child or simply want to have peace of mind before attending gatherings, keeping rapid tests on hand can help prevent viral transmission and provide clarity for symptomatic individuals considering treatment.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 continues to be the most effective way to help protect yourself from severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Getting vaccinated is your choice, and I encourage you to get vaccinated and/or boosted as I have. Click here to find no-cost vaccination sites in Alaska.

Please read about these options at the link below and share them with your family and friends. As always, should you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.

Gov. Dunleavy delivers election year State of the State address
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media

In his fourth State of the State address on Tuesday evening, Gov. Mike Dunleavy called on the Legislature to pass bills to resolve permanent fund dividends, increase Alaskans’ food security and sell state land.

And he urged lawmakers to prove people wrong who say nothing will get done in an election year.
Gov. Dunleavy delivers his fourth State of the State address before members of the Senate and House, Jan 5, 2022. Photo: Gavel Alaska
“Most Alaskans outside this room don’t plan their lives around an election season,” he said. “They plan their lives around hunting or fishing, construction season or tourism season, but not an election season. Alaskans won’t accept that we can’t get anything done because it’s an election year.”

Dunleavy said he envisioned a state where educational outcomes improve and people feel safer.

He also described different state efforts to increase the number of health care workers in the state, including plans to train more certified nursing assistants and registered nurses, as well as his proposal to increase the number of state-supported medical students from 20 to 30.

Alaska legislative leaders see on-time budget as a priority this year
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media
The leaders of the Alaska Legislature would like to see the state budget pass on time this session. And some of them want to see the Legislature pass a long-term plan for the state’s finances and permanent fund dividends. But they acknowledge there are significant obstacles in both the short and long term.

Higher oil prices, growth in the permanent fund and federal funding are some of the reasons the state has more money this year.
The Alaska House of Representatives meets for the first day of the 2022 legislative session. Photo: Andrew Kitchenman/KTOO and Alaska Public Media
Senate President Peter Micciche, a Soldotna Republican, said it’s a quandary – it could make the annual budget easier, but it also removes some of the pressure to pass a long-term plan. He said a long-term compromise will take lawmakers crossing the divides in both chambers to talk with each other.

Sen. Tom Begich, a Democrat from Anchorage, is the Senate minority caucus leader. Along with work on a fiscal plan, he’s focused on a bill aimed at improving students’ reading skills, which would also expand access to pre-kindergarten education. And he says it’s important that the Legislature pass a plan on how to spend billions of dollars of federal infrastructure and other funding. He also acknowledged that the higher revenue could be a mixed blessing.

Governor proposes sweeping changes to election system
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News
Citing concerns about election security, changes to Alaska’s voting structure and redistricting, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer have proposed an “election integrity” bill to put before the Alaska Legislature.

Among other things, the “Election Integrity Bill” would require people applying for an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend to request voter registration instead of being automatically registered; allows for ballot curing or correcting; and introduces a “more thorough” definition of crimes around election fraud.
Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer speaks during a press conference announcing the administration’s push for changes to the state’s election system. Photo: State of Alaska
It would also include statutory changes to language regarding maintenance of voter lists, the creation of a toll-free “election offense hotline” for voters to use “if they see questionable activity at the polls” and the reinforcement of “the belief that absentee ballot signatures should be witnessed.”

University of Alaska students sue to protect fund for scholarships, medical education
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Public Media

Four University of Alaska students are suing the state government in an attempt to maintain a fund that pays for scholarships. 

The Alaska Higher Education Investment Fund has been under threat of being emptied of more than $400 million as a result of legislative budget fights. It pays for Alaska Performance Scholarships, need-based Alaska Education Grants and the state program for medical students, WWAMI.

The University of Alaska Anchorage campus in August 2020. Photo: Tegan Hanlon/Alaska Public Media
Preserving Aleutian history: collection of 1970s audio reels finds new home online
Maggie Nelson, KUCB Unalaska

A collection of audio reels made in the Aleutian region in the 1970s was digitized and will soon be available online through the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

The recordings were part of a school project that started in 1977 when a group of Unalaska students and their teacher Ray Hudson started collecting texts about the culture, language and history of the Aleutians. They called themselves the “Cuttlefish Class” – a name they picked out together – and they called their project the “Cuttlefish Series.”
A total of 59 audio reels were saved from the Cuttlefish project. On them are things like teachings from elder Bill Tcheripanoff in September of 1977 who was recorded talking to Unalaska students about an ulux̂tax̂, an Unangax̂ skin-on-frame sea kayak. Photo Courtesy Leslie McCartney
The students put together six hefty volumes meant to bring the island community and Unangax̂ culture into the classroom. They contain things like fishing stories, letters, recipes for alodics (an Unangax̂ form of fry bread), as well as memories from Makushin and the other lost villages that were forcibly evacuated during World War II.

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.
Winston-Salem Journal

As more school districts purchase electric school buses, some have questioned their ability to operate in extremely cold weather. A school district in Tok, Alaska put their new electric school bus to the test.
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

The Anchorage School District is searching for a new superintendent, and members of the public have been invited to weigh in. Superintendent Deena Bishop announced in November that she would retire at the end of this school year. She’s led the state’s largest school district since 2016. Now, the district is asking the community for its input on Bishop’s replacement, seeking comment through community surveys and virtual town halls.
Katie Anastas, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

Many kindergarteners, first-graders and second-graders in Anchorage are struggling to catch up on reading skills, according to data the Anchorage School Board shared at a recent meeting. About half of the Anchorage School District kindergarteners, first-graders and second-graders tested were below the benchmark at the start of the year. Of those students, 38% of kindergarteners and 30% of second-graders had “high growth” during the fall. That means while they started out behind, they’re now on target for their grade level. Just 11% of first-graders had high growth. Superintendent Deena Bishop said some teachers and principals think that so many first-graders have fallen behind because they missed out on important skills as kindergarteners. Some students spent the majority of the 2020-21 school year online.
Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School District will continue to require masks in its buildings as the omicron variant rages through the community. In a letter to ASD families, superintendent Deena Bishop wrote that she was extending the school district’s mask requirement, which was set to expire Friday. Given how high COVID-19 case counts are, the rule will stay in place with no end date set for now, according to a district spokeswoman.
Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News

Students and staff with the Anchorage School District who test positive for COVID-19 are now required to stay home for just five days — with some exceptions.
The previous isolation requirement was 10 days after a positive test result or symptom onset, whichever came first. The shortened timeline was announced this week by superintendent Deena Bishop in an email, and is meant to reflect the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a district spokeswoman.
Eric Stone, KRBD Ketchikan

Schools in Craig are open for in-person learning — for now. “We are close to the edge at this point,” Craig’s Superintendent Chris Reitan said in a phone interview. He says the district is struggling with a wave of new infections. “We have about 20% of our students who are out either confirmed positive or out with symptoms. We have about 20% of our staff — and that’s including all staff, not just teachers — but 20% of staff who are out either confirmed positive or with symptoms,” Reitan said.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Covid-19 is spreading fast in public schools with classrooms, sports teams and at least one school mandating face masks, according to the virus dashboard of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District....
Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A majority of residents favor adding Fairbanks North Star sixth graders to middle school, based on a school district survey. A smaller majority also favor repurposing a school building to house alternative...
Rashah McChesney, KTOO Juneau

Two pipes — one in the commons area where kids eat meals, another in the nurse’s office — burst during a cold snap and flooded most of the school. The weekend weather was bad, and no one was in the school when the pipes burst, so they don’t know for how long it was filling with water. On the day Riverbend was supposed to open to students, the school custodian showed up early to shovel snow and found the mess.
KINY Juneau

The Joint Assembly School Board Facility Planning Committee met virtually to take up the status of bond-funded roof projects, review the deferred maintenance list, and discuss major maintenance and renovation projects needed at Marie Drake School and Mendenhall River Elementary School.
Camille Botello, Peninsula Clarion

Even amid a recent statewide COVID-19 spike that has seen the highest case rates of the pandemic so far, most everything is business as usual in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, said KPBSD Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff. “So far, we’ve still been able to keep our lunches being served, our buses running, and classrooms are operating,” she said. According to data from the district’s COVID dashboard, there were 14 staff and 69 students currently self-isolating with the virus.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education gave initial approval Monday to a policy change aimed at prioritizing student comments during its monthly board meetings. Under the change, within the first hour of the meeting students would have up to five minutes each to address the board about any issue. Currently, students are able to offer public comments during the board’s designated time for public comments, when people testifying are limited to three minutes each for an aggregate of 20 minutes. The new policy would designate a section on the board’s meeting agenda for comments from district students.
Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media

One day last November, a group of Nikiski students found themselves standing in a circle around a nearly thousand-pound moose their teacher had just shot. Soon, the class was butchering the massive animal. The scene was part of an effort to instill knowledge in the kids about how to hunt, as well as respect for where their food comes from.
The school’s outdoor exploration class is not unique in Alaska, just as hunting for food is a normal way of life here. But to many readers of the New York Times, which recently published a story about the class’s successful hunt, it was a surprising and unfamiliar topic.
Eric Stone, KRBD Ketchikan

Ketchikan’s school district has put out an appeal for more people to work as substitute teachers. That’s as a shortage of substitutes is pulling other school employees away from their usual tasks and into understaffed classrooms, says Superintendent Melissa Johnson. “We’ve been running on fumes trying to keep schools going,” Johnson said in a phone interview Tuesday. “So if we can get some substitutes, then it will relieve some stress (on) administrators and school staff.” The district reported on Sunday that more than 70 people with ties to Ketchikan’s schools had tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. Nearly 30 had spent time in schools while infectious.
KMXT Kodiak

The Kodiak Island Borough School District is determined to return to in-person learning, but it isn’t proving as easy as was hoped. The school district initially planned to return to having all classes in person, but staff shortfalls have delayed the elementary school’s reopening until next week. The middle school and high school will be returning to in person learning as planned, but superintendent Larry LeDoux acknowledges that the situation is constantly changing.
Greg Kim, KYUK-Yukon Delta

Napakiak is at the top of the state’s list for a new school building. Napakiak was fourth on that list a year ago, but its existing school is within 64 feet of an eroding riverbank. Napakiak made the jump largely thanks to the state legislature, according to Tim Mearig, facilities manager for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. He said that when the legislature approved $3.1 million in September 2021 to demolish the existing K-12 school in Napakiak, that helped bump Napakiak’s replacement school project to the top of the list. That’s because once the state makes an initial investment on a school construction project, that project receives higher priority for future funding.
Greg Kim, KYUK Bethel

The largest surge in COVID-19 cases the Y-K Delta has ever experienced is hitting school staff and students. Bethel school principals reported that they almost shut down their schools at points in January 2022. But so far, the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) has been able to keep classes in session despite staff shortages. At the LKSD board meeting on Jan. 17, two Bethel principals informed the board of near school closures because of a high number of COVID-19 cases in their schools.

“Because of the numbers of staff that have been impacted by COVID, we have had to consider whether or not we could handle school safely,” said Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Principal Joshua Gill. “Last week, I had 50 students on quarantine. At least one day last week, I had to make sure I had enough in attendance for the day to count,” said Bethel Regional High School Principal Alicia Miner.
Greg Kim, KYUK Bethel

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is starting to see the effects of the omicron variant of COVID-19. As LKSD staff returned to the region from their holiday break, a significant number faced travel delays and canceled flights. LKSD Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said about 25 staff had yet to return to the Y-K Delta because their flights were canceled or delayed. She said that several schools in the district are impacted by canceled flights, but only Ayaprun Elitnaurvik elementary in Bethel delayed their start.
Miriam Trujillo, KNOM Nome

Superintendent of Schools Jamie Burgess celebrated the three members of the board, Darlene Trigg, Nancy Mendenhall and Sandy Martinson, who had been given the experienced board membership award by the Association of Alaska School Boards. “We’re very lucky that we have some board members that are very dedicated to, not only just simply serving on the school board, but developing their knowledge and their expertise so that they are the best board members possible,” Burgess said.
Alena Naiden, Anchorage Daily News

A student brought a handgun to Barrow High School on Thursday morning, sending the school into lockdown, according to officials. No one was hurt, and North Slope Borough police apprehended the student. "To the best of our knowledge, no student or staff member was threatened," Barrow High School Principal Mark Jenkins said in a statement.
Alena Naiden, The Arctic Sounder

Kivalina school lost heat and reported an oil spill earlier this month. The discharge could have caused as much as 1,900 gallons of oil to seep into the ground, but no harm to human health or wildlife has been reported, officials said. School employees noticed that the building was out of heat, and the fuel tank, which was filled the day before, was empty. The leaking was along the pipe at a duplex teacher housing, and the teacher living there was relocated. The broken valve was fixed and the heat was restored to the school by the next day.
Angela Denning, KFSK Petersburg

Petersburg School District buildings sustained damage from the heavy snowfall in December and January.
Superintendent Erica Kludt-Painter says most of the damage happened at the middle and high schools. She said it stemmed from ice chunks building up on top of the roofs.
Angela Denning, KFSK Petersburg

The Petersburg School Board, medical staff, and others spent nearly three hours talking about the school district’s COVID mitigation plan. Under consideration is part-time masking at the elementary school, masking breaks for staff, having a threshold for masking at the secondary schools, and having quarantines start with a confirmed positive test result or known exposure, not just when students say their symptoms started. Dr. Mark Tuccillo told the group the omicron variant is one third as deadly as delta but its three or four times more contagious. He said you might think that’s a “wash” but the pandemic is actually the worst it’s been.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB Unalaska

The Unalaska school board decided not to change the district’s mandatory mask rules on Thursday, following nearly three hours of contentious public testimony.
Dozens of community members — including parents, students, teachers and local health officials — crammed into the Unalaska High School Library for the meeting. Some said there is no need for masks in schools. Others argued that with COVID-19 cases soaring, masking is more important than ever.
Sage Smiley, KSTK Wrngell

A group of Wrangell elementary and middle school students – some accompanied by their parents – walked out of class Friday morning to protest the public school district’s requirement that they wear masks indoors.
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2022 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska
Drama, Debate & Forensics (DDF) State Championships
ASAA Activities Calendar

February 17-19, 2022 Bettye Davis East High School in Anchorage. Hosted by ASAA, UAA & Anchorage School District

State DDF Coaches Information
State Championship policies and procedures, deadlines, required forms, resources and more.
2022 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska
World Language Declamation
ASAA Activities Calendar

February 26, 2022 at Dimond High School, Anchorage. Hosted by ASAA & Anchorage School District

State Teacher Information
State Championship policies and procedures, deadlines, required forms, resources and more.
2022 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Nordic Ski State Championships
ASAA Activities Calendar

February 24-26, 2022 at Birch Hill Trails, Fairbanks
Hosted By ASAA and Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks

State Coaches Information
State Championship policies and procedures, deadlines, required forms, resources and more.
Bridget Dowd, KTOO

Juneau’s high school basketball and hockey players no longer have to wear masks while playing the game. Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss granted the exception, saying those athletes can instead participate in increased testing. She said the alternative will be available as long as the district also has enough supplies to maintain its test-to-stay policy.
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK Bethel

The Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) board voted to request that the Bethel City Council exempt the school from the citywide mask mandate. During a special meeting the Bethel City Council is slated to vote on the issue. If the proposal passes, it would temporarily allow varsity basketball players to remove their masks for games.
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