Lon Garrison

AASB Priorities are a priority for Alaska


Jenni Lefing

Board Self-Evaluation: A Key to Successful Board-Superintendent Relationships


Conner Meyer

Youth on Boards: Student Ideas on

Meaningful Youth Leadership


Marie Paul, Southwest Region School Board



Commentary Newsletter Archive

AASB 2023 Legislative Priorities

Your Participation Needed!

There is only one AASB Fly-In this year, so ensuring your district is represented is critical to 2023 legislative advocacy efforts!

Information & Registration

Webinar Topics and Registration

Webinar Topics and Registration

Download Toolkit & Resources



AASB Priorities are a priority for Alaska

Lon Garrison, Executive Director

On January 17th, the 33rd Alaska Legislature began its first session. This officially marks the beginning of AASB’s formal state legislative advocacy season. I am joined once again by Norm Wooten, who will be providing essential support in covering the day-in and day-out coverage of the legislature while also continuing to be the primary contributor to our weekly publication, “The Session.”

As we prepare for our traditional February Advocacy Fly-in for school board members and youth, I thought it appropriate to speak to the importance and impact your voice can have when advocating for AASB’s 2023 Legislative Priorities.

The AASB Board of Directors met the day after our Delegate Assembly last November and voted to put forward three critically important priorities facing school districts across the state. The Board felt that these three issues deserved the greatest level of attention as they affect every district in the state. The priorities are as follows:

  • Sufficient and Sustainable Education Funding
  • Recruitment and Retention of Teachers, Administrators, and Staff
  • Student Wellness and Safety



Board Self-Evaluation: A Key to Successful

Board-Superintendent Relationships

Jenni Lefing, Membership Services Manager

There are two crucial evaluations that are key to a successful board-superintendent relationship. Just like you evaluate your superintendent each year, it is equally important to evaluate the board as a whole. A board self-evaluation is an opportunity for the district governance team to review and consider their effectiveness as a leadership group. 



Youth on Boards: Student Ideas on Meaningful Youth Leadership

Connor Meyer, AASB Community Engagement Educator

In December AASB hosted the inaugural Youth on Boards (YOB), a two-day training for students from across the state to collaborate with their peers and spend time learning ways to be effective advocates as youth board representatives in their school districts. YOB was a unique opportunity for board members to interact with their students in smaller group sessions, and for students to have their voices heard by board members.


Watch the video to hear what students attending the Youth On Boards training had to say!

The video can also be viewed here.

Youth On Boards Student Interviews


Marie Paul (left) hugs fellow board member and dear friend Kay Andrews as they accept the 2022 Outstanding School Board award for Southwest Region School District during the AASB Annual Conference.


Marie Paul

Southwest Region School District

With great sadness, we at AASB note the recent passing of Marie Paul, a longtime Southwest Region School District board member and beloved member of the community of Togiak.


Marie was a committed and dedicated public servant. Her many professional roles included President of Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation (26 years), Bristol Bay Native Corporation Board member (17 years), Togiak City Administrator, Health Aide, UAF Learning Center Coordinator, President of the Traditional Council of Togiak, and Vice President of the Southwest Region School Board.


She was first elected to the Southwest Region School Board in 1992 and served on the board for 26 years, most of that time as Vice President. A passionate education and youth advocate, Marie worked tirelessly to ensure that all students in the district received the best possible education experience.


Marie was a respected leader who will be remembered for her generous spirit, wise counsel, and lasting contributions to the organizations, communities, and region she served. Our deepest condolences to Marie's husband Herman, their children and extended family, and her countless friends and colleagues. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her, and her memory will live on in the hearts of the many lives she touched.

Remembrances of Marie

from Southwest Region School Board colleagues

"My friend, my confidant and peer, words escape me, Marie Paul. You meant more to me each year than I realized. Our terms on the health board, tribal and municipal business, Native corporate structures, and your true love to see the best in our youth and people through education while seeking to preserve Native culture with spirituality and exemplifying faith will be missed at many tables you served. I will miss your support, your words, and prayers as a friend, and leader in education, especially around the table of the Southwest Region School District you endured for 26 years. Your legacy carries on with many, as a friend, confidante, and peer."

- Kay Andrews, President, Southwest Region School Board

"We have those people we lean on when we are experiencing life's greatest challenges for guidance and wisdom. Marie was one of those people for me. For twenty-five years, she was a voice I could call on when things were tough and the path ahead was unclear. I can't count the times she knew what to say or suggested which elder or other person might be the one to call on to help guide me in finding a way to help others. Her counsel always made all the difference in the world, and I will greatly miss her.”

- Steve Noonkesser, Superintendent, Southwest Region School District

(Above L to R) Board President Kay Andrews, Superintendent Steve Noonkesser, and Vice President Marie Paul share a laugh during a Southwest Region school board meeting.


AASB's Leadership Academy & Legislative Fly-in and Youth Advocacy Institute are rapidly approaching! Register today to sharpen your advocacy skills and prepare your talking points around educational legislative priorities for when you meet with legislators and other decision-makers.

As board members, your advocacy is crucial to the success of Alaska’s public education system.

AASB's 2023 Legislative Priorities
 Registration  & Information
Fly-In and YAI Agendas

Fly-In Guest Instructor: Marissa Rathbone

Director of Strategic Advocacy, WA State School Directors Association

Marissa brings a fresh and well-developed set of advocacy skills to share. An educator at heart and a lifetime advocate for public education with over 25 years working in education and state government, she believes public education is the basis of a thriving economy and healthy society and loves working with locally-elected school board members to strengthen this foundation.

AASB recommends that every district send at least two school board members, and a district leader. There is only one AASB Fly-In this year, so ensuring your district is represented is critical to this year's legislative advocacy efforts!

Additional Fly-In Opportunities

Senate Education Committee

and School Board Member Meeting

Monday, February 6, from 1-3 pm

Senate Education Committee Chair Löki Tobin is offering school board members and youth a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with the committee and potentially other senators or house members interested in education. 

We urge you to recognize the importance of this opportunity and ask that you attend this meeting at the capitol if you are not previously engaged.

Be prepared to bring forward your stories and answer questions legislators may have.

Exploring Collaborative,

Culturally Connected Career

& Technical Education (4Cs)

Friday, February 3, from 1-5 pm

A Pre-Conference Workshop co-hosted by AASB & SERRC with Bristol Bay Region CTE. The workshop is focused on fostering collaboration among Southeast school districts, but other school board members and administrators are welcome to join! Please register to join this free workshop.


Find Your Senators and Representatives

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!


Webinar Topics and Dates

  • Feb 21 - The Superintendent: Building a Relationship
  • Feb 28 - School Finance with an Expert!
  • 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

Webinar Topics and Dates

  • Feb 16 - How are our schools doing preparing our students for post-secondary training and education?
  • 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.


Click the button to access a toolkit, certificate template, and other customizable resources to recognize your board's service.

February is School Board Appreciation Month

The goal of School Board Appreciation Month, is to raise awareness and understanding of the vital role elected school boards play in the governance of a representative democracy by building awareness and understanding in your community and schools.



Please Tell Us What’s on Your Mind? – Fine-Tuning Public Comment at School Board Meetings

“Fine Tuning” Episode 6

John M. Sedor, Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

For most of my career, school board meetings were relatively non-controversial affairs. That changed a few years ago. School board meetings have become a focal point for political and cultural differences.

This month’s commentary provides practical considerations to limit the potential for public comment disruptions at your meeting. It also explores potential liability for “content based” restrictions.


Unraveling the mysteries of “second the motion”

Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian

Second the motion—everybody knows how to do that, right? Well, in fact there are some funny ideas floating around about this ordinary act of meeting procedure.

Let’s unravel the mysteries.


Are school districts required to record their board meetings?

Answer: No. Many do to help with the creation of the minutes, however, it’s important to delete the recording after the minutes have been adopted. 

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



New Content Available for Safe Children's Act Curriculum

The Alaska Safe Children’s Act (informally known as Erin’s and Bree’s Law) requires schools to cover the topics of child sexual abuse and teen dating violence. 

In response to legislative action, DEED has created Bree’s Law Education, a curriculum for students in grades 7-12 that meets the full requirements for student training.

If you have questions about the Safe Children’s Act contact

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

Alaska Society for Technology in Education Conference

February 18-21, 2023

Hotel Captain Cook Anchorage

Promoting access to technology, connectivity to information resources, and technology integration for all Alaskan learners. Your district can fund your teachers’ Professional Development through ASTE using grants or federal funding. We would like to help you consider using federal program money to support ASTE 2023, such as Quality Schools Grants, Title II-A, Title II, and Title IV-A: Area 3, 410.

Information & Registration

Minecraft Lincenses Available

for all Alaska K-12 Classrooms

DEED has acquired statewide licensing for Minecraft: Education Edition to be used with Coding in Minecraft.

Coding in Minecraft is a teaches coding on levels that can be suitable for a range of grades from upper elementary through high school.

If you are a teacher and want to incorporate it in your class, visit this link:

Minecraft Coding Information

Questions? Contact Alaska Statewide Coding and Computer Science Career Coordinator Faye Tanner


Alaska Teacher Named Finalist for 

National Teacher of the Year

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced that 2023 Alaska Teacher of the Year Harlee Harvey is one of five finalists for 2023 National Teacher of the Year. Harvey is a first-grade teacher at Tikiġaq School in Point Hope. She has taught in the North Slope Borough School District since graduating from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2014.

Read More


Anchorage – An Anchorage charter school centered around Alaska Native values is searching for a permanent home – Morgan Krakow, ADN

Bering Strait – Polar bear’s fatal attack on young mother and son leaves Northwest Alaska community reeling – Alena Naiden, Arctic Sounder

Fairbanks – Borough mayor makes a pitch for increased school funding, calls for legislative action – Jack Barnwell, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Juneau – City, school district draft legislative priorties – Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire

Kenai – School district feeling effects of plateaued education funding – Riley Board, KDLL Dillingham

Ketchikan – Board looks to budget amid consideration of significant cuts – Sam Stockbridge, Ketchikan Daily News

LKSD - Newtok’s school loses power plant in fire - Chris Klint, Alaska Public Media

Northwest Arctic – Iñupiaq teachers use storytelling for language immersion classes – Alena Naiden, ADN

Wrangell – Wrangell Public Schools begins FY24 budget process with projected deficit – Sage Smiley, KSTK

Yukon-Koyukuk – Students get training alongside welding pros – Haley Lehman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

More Alaska School District News


An education funding bill is expected to be introduced this week – KINY Juneau

Ahead of education-funding bill, supporters of Alaska public schools pitch their case – James Brooks, Alaska Beacon

Lawsuit says Alaska statute allowing public funding to go to private schools is unconstitutional – APRN News

With songs and speeches, Alaskans rally in Juneau for more education funding – Katie Anastas, KTOO Juneau

Legislative priorities include education spending, PFD resolution – Elena Symmes, Alaska’s News Source

State senators hear oil production outlook – Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Dunleavy discusses legislative priorities – Elena Symmes, Alaska’s News Source

UAF adds 1970s audio reels of Aleutian history to digital catalog – Maggie Nelson, KUCB Unalaska

Traditional Games return to Juneau for its 6th year – KINY, Juneau

Once a boarding school, a college now aims to reclaim education for Native people – Stena Sieg, NPR

I moved to a tiny Alaskan village to be a teacher – Taryn Williams, Business Insider

More State and Federal News

Association of Alaska School Boards  |

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