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.

Māori Immersion Schools Model Possibilities for Alaska 
By Tiffany Jackson, AASB Board President  
Tiffany Jackson
When is the last time you went on a trip that was truly life changing? The kind of life-changing which has you looking at everything you do, and thinking about how your new view on things is prompting you to consider changes to what you've always done. At the end of February, as a part of the Robert Wood Johnson Global Solutions Partnership, 12 Alaskans from different aspects of education (principals, teachers, school board members, AASB staff) had the opportunity to go one of these life-changing trips to Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Photos: Alaska Delegation Tours New Zealand's Māori Immersion Schools

Cultural Practices Strengthen Student Identity and Community Engagement  
AASB President Tiffany Jackson (left center in white kuspuk), and members of the Alaska delegation pose for a photo with students and staff of Te Kura Māori O Porirua, a mainstream Immersion school serving years 0-13. The school is located in Poriua, an urban area just outside of Wellington, New Zealand. The 11 member delegation included AASB staff, Alaska Native elders, and educators. The Alaska delegation's reciprocal visit was hosted by Muaupoko iwi, who in 2018 sent a group of their students to Alaska to participate in an indigenous cross-cultural Masters research tour.

Māori as a First Language
An example of the indigenous instructional materials that have been created for use in New Zealand's Māori immersion schools.
Immersion Classroom
A teacher offers instruction in Māori language with students at Te Kura-ā-iwi o Whakatupuranga, a Māori immersion school serving years 0-13.
Students Extend Traditional Greeting
Muaupoko iwi (tribe), the Muaupoko Tribal Authority, works with families and children preschool through high school on learning traditional Māori language, song, and dance. The Muaupoko Tribe hosted a community dinner sharing dance, performances and kai (meal) for the Alaska delegation. The tribe began working with students four years ago and has already made significant progress.

Sharing Cultures
Vice Principal Keremihana Here of the Te Kura-ā-iwi o Whakatupuranga immersion school in Otaki, stands with students holding a Tlingit drum gifted to the school by the Alaska delegation during the pōwhiri, a Māori welcoming ceremony involving speeches, dancing, singing, and the hongi.
Traditional Lodging
The Alaska Whānau (family) in front the of the Muaupoko iwi (tribe) marai (tribal house). The delegation was lodged in this tribal house during their visit to Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Why Membership in AASB is Worth Every Penny! 
By Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director 
Timi Tullis
We understand that during these difficult budget times some members may question the value of their membership with AASB. If your board starts those discussions, here are some great responses as to why it is vitally important to remain a member of our statewide organization!
Y-K 'Denaakk'e Songs for Children' Digital Book Receives Recognition 
An interactive Alaska Native language song book by the students of Allakaket School and local elders has gained state and international attention.
Created last year during a two-day Book Slam workshop facilitated by the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB), Denaakk'e Songs for Children is a collaboration between the Yukon-Koyukuk School District, Allakaket School, community members, and AASB. Denaakk'e is a dialect of the Athabascan language spoken by people along the central Koyukuk and Yukon rivers within the district. The book includes Denaakk'e and English language text and songs, original illustrations by students, and many interactive features,  
AASB's Book Slam project has helped support the district's goal of implementing local, culturally responsive activities for all grades that can be incorporated into the curriculum and instructional materials for its schools. Denaakk'e Songs for Children is part of a 30 book collection AASB is helping the Y-K district create over a three year period.  
The book was honored this year by the Alaska Society for Technology in Education (ASTE) with a first place award in their iDidaBook contest "Amaze Us" category. ASTE recognizes the best books created by schools through its annual digital media contest. 
In addition, Book Creator selected Denaakk'e Songs for Children for inclusion in its World Language collection, alongside other international books featuring Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Welsh, Thai, and Batak languages. Book Creator is considered the number one app for creating and publishing digital books online in over 90 countries. It is also Common Sense Education's top pick for innovative classroom learning tools. 
"THIS IS GREAT!," Principal Larry Parker wrote to the Allakaket school staff upon hearing the news. "Now we are entered into the 'World Language Books at Book Creator!"  

"Thank you, everyone!," added YKSD Superintendent Kerry Boyd. "A special thanks to Larry for enlightening us about the AASB Book Slams!" 
Q: How is the Foundation Formula calculated?

A. The best explanation we've seen for calculating the Foundation Formula is a guide produced by the Alaska Legislative Finance Division. It provides a clear and simple overview of K-12 funding in Alaska, with information on the amounts and sources of funding, and the formulas that determine where the funding goes. It does not make policy recommendations on issues such as the appropriate levels of funding from various sources or the distribution of funding to school districts. It is written primarily from the State perspective, but is intended to be useful to all citizens.
Citizen's Guide to K-12 Funding in Alaska >

Partner Spotlight
Distributed Guidance Strategies Underway
in Sitka
New strategies for individualized career and college preparation are being devised and implemented around the state that expand the role of teachers and administrators in sharing this responsibility that is often left to counselors, students, and parents. Learn how the Sitka School District is planning to develop these methods into something that works for their students and schools.
Read More >
Dual Credit Soars
in Hoonah 
For the last three years, Hoonah City School District has offered a unique dual enrollment program for its high school students which has been met with increased participation and success rates.  
Read the full story to see how students from Hoonah are leaving high school with more college credits than ever.

Regional STEPS Partner Meeting
April 29 -30, 2019 in Juneau
at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

In recent months we've held community meetings and work group meetings in key areas: early childhood, trauma informed practices, cultural integration, family engagement, STEM/STEAM, and post-secondary. The work has just started. There is more we can do to keep aligning our work.

Registration Deadline: 4/22
Book Hotel Room >
Guest Columns

By John M. Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
John Sedor
We are currently in the middle of a series of articles for AASB on interactions with people and things outside of the proverbial "school house gates." And we will continue that series next month. In light of all the "interesting happenings" in Juneau, however, we are taking a deviation this month to consider the extent Reduction in Force (RIF) might be a helpful tool in these potentially tough times. 
Follow four fundamental guidelines for successful meetings
By Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, Jurassic Parliament  
Robert's Rules of Order includes four fundamental guidelines that will create successful meetings. They are easy to say but take some effort to apply, since prevailing culture is often very different. Run your meetings according to these guidelines so your meetings-and your organization-will flourish.
Code.org Summer Workshops
Scholarships Available

The Code.org computer science curriculum is aligned with the new state standards No previous experience teaching computer science is needed. The workshops are designed to support middle and high school teachers before and during their first year teaching Computer Science Discoveries or Computer Science Principles.

CS Discoveries Workshops
June 3-7 - Fairbanks (6th-10th grade level)
June 10-14 - Juneau (6th-10th grade level)

CS Principles Workshop

June 3-7 - Anchorage (9th-12th grade level)
  • Free of charge
  • Highest-rated by teachers
  • Your students will love it!
AASB Spring Academy
& Legislative Fly-In

There's still time to register

Join us April 6-9 in Juneau to show that the unity of Alaska's School Boards can lead positive change by:

  • Meet with legislators and other decision makers. They need to hear from you
  • Hear updates from Alaska Department of Education on Early Learning and Chronic Absenteeism
  • Make Sense of Your District's Data
  • Discuss issues & topics influencing education in 2019
Donna Arduin
Director, Office of Management & Budget
Alaska School Newsletters

We think what's going on in schools is worth sharing!

Each month Commentary will highlight school and district newsletters from across Alaska.
The Inside Scoop seeks to honor student achievements, help promote local events and activities, and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of youth in your district.

We're excited to help spread your good news!

Kashunamiut School District

Southeast Island School District

Local Student News

Browse The Inside Scoop Newsletter Collection >
Include your school or district newsletter in The Inside Scoop!    
State Budget News
Statewide reaction to Governor Dunleavy's proposed budget continues as school districts, municipalities, businesses, organizations, and the public assess its potential impacts. News coverage is presented in chronological order as events have unfolded.

March 1 - Katie Kazmierski, KNOM, Nome
  March 1 - Jim Paulin, Bristol Bay Times
March 6 - Steve Quinn, KTVA, Anchorage
March 6 - Isabelle Ross, KDLG, Dillingham / Alaska Public Media  
March 6 - KINY, Juneau
March 6 - Chris Klint, KTVA Anchorage   
March 6 - Mollie Barnes, Juneau Empire
March 7 - Erin McGroarty and Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner   
March 7 - Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner  
March 7 - Juneau Empire
March 7 - Ronald H. Brower, Sr., Bristol Bay Times
March 9 - Deena Bishop, Anchorage Daily News 
March 9 - Becky Bohrer, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
  March 11 - Erin McGroarty, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
March 11 - Scott Gross, KTVA , Anchorage   
March 12 - Alex McCarthy, Juneau Empire 
March 12 - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
March 13 - Ben Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire
March 13 - Elizabeth Earl, Alaska Journal of Commerce
March 14 - Robert Woolsey, KCAW, Sitka 
March 14 - Rebecca Palsha, KTUU, Anchorage   
March 14 - Victoria Petersen, Homer News
March 15 - Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion   
March 15 - Kristen Durand, KTUU, Anchorage
March 15 - The Skagway News 
Opinion: Alaska should stop giving costly oil tax credits
March 15 - Joe Paskvan, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Smaller PFDs, taxes among budget-funding ideas at town hall
March 16 - Dorothy Chomicz, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
March 18 - James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News  
March 19 - Steve Quinn, KTVA, Anchorage
March 19 - Sen. Tom Begich & Sen. Scott Kawasaki, Juneau Empire 
March 20 - Scott Gross, KTVA, Anchorage
March 20 - Kyrie Long, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
March 21 - Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

March 21 -Sen. Scott Kawasaki & Sen. Tom Begich, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Sen. Stevens talks education, PFD at Anchor Point town hall
March 21 - Megan Pacer, Homer News

Potential budget cuts cause UAA campus change in Eagle River
March 22 - Jeff Bridges, KTVA, Anchorage

March 22 - Steve Quinn, KTVA, Anchorage

March 22 - Alex McCarthy, Juneau Empire

March 22 - Katherine Rose, KCAW, Sitka

March 23 - Leila Kheiry, KRBD, Ketchikan
Senate Democrats Offer More Public Venues for Governor Dunleavy's Statewide Town Halls
March 25 - Noah Hanson, Alaska Native News

March 25 - Kirsten Swann, Alaska Public Media

March 25 - Tim Bradner, Anchorage Press

March 25 - Liz Raines, KTVA, Anchorage

March 25 - Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO, Juneau

March 26 - Dermot Cole, Anchorage Press
March 26 - Maria Dudzak, KRBD Ketchikan
March 26 - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Opinion
March 26 - Liz Raines, KTVA, Anchorage

March 26 - Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion
Road shows kick off in Kenai: Dunleavy advocates for budget while House goes own way
March 27 - Elizabeth Earl, Alaska Journal of Commerce

Opposition strong in Dunleavy budget testimony in Bethel
March 27 - Kristi Shallenberger, KYUK, Bethel

March 27 - Michelle Theriault Boots, Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News 
March 27 - Sean Maguire, KTUU Anchorage

March 27 - Scott Gross, KTVA, Anchorage
March 27 - Jim Nordlund, Anchorage Daily News
  March 28 - Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News
Other News 
Lawsuit alleges school officials could have done more to protect Iditarod Elementary students from teacher
By Rebecca Palsha, KTUU 
Former Iditarod Elementary teacher Lukis Nighswonger Photo: KTUU
A former Iditarod Elementary school student and her mother filed a lawsuit in Anchorage this week against the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. The lawsuit says the former student was touched by popular teacher Lukis Nighswonger when he was her fourth grade teacher and again later when he was the girl's coach in sixth grade.
"It involved inappropriate contact that he had with her, inappropriate touching, contact with private parts," said Jeff Barber, the girl's attorney. Prosecutors in Palmer have filed more than a dozen sexual abuse charges against Nighswonger, a former elementary school teacher arrested in late September after parents and students complained about inappropriate touching.
How school districts can keep students safe from abuse
By Zoe Grueskin, KTOO 
Riverbend Elementary School. Photo: Lisa Phu, KTOO
Last month, a Juneau principal was placed on leave when questions were raised about how staff at his former school handled reports of student abuse. A pair of new lawsuits claim that families had brought concerns to the attention of the Wasilla school's leaders years before action was taken.
Principal Scott Nelson's name does not appear in the lawsuits filed last month against his former employer, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. Still, Juneau School District Director of Human Resources Darryl Smith said Nelson's connection to the case was a distraction from student learning at Riverbend Elementary School, where Nelson has worked since the beginning of the school year.
AASB Facilitates Ketchikan Sexual Harassment and Assault Work Session 
By Leila Kheiry, KRBD, Ketchikan 
At the request of interim Superintendent Beth Lougee and the Ketchikan school board, Alaska School Board Association Executive Director Norm Wooten facilitated a sexual harassment and assault work session with the board. The March 12 session focused on board policies related to sexual harassment, ethics, non-discrimination, and public comments and complaints.
Homer Rep. Vance apologizes after criticizing letters from high school students
By Aaron Bolton, KBBI, Homer 
Homer High School senior Jesse Roach asks Rep. Sarah Vance at a recent town hall to oppose cuts to education. Photo: Aaron Bolton, KBBI
A freshman House lawmaker took to social media to criticize local high schoolers that had written her office over proposed education cuts. Homer Rep. Sarah  Vance has since apologized and taken down the video on her Facebook page. Homer Republican Sarah Vance posted a seven-minute video reading letters she'd received from Homer High School students. The student council coordinated the letter writing campaign. In the video, Vance complained that many students didn't apparently address her by her proper title.
"None of them have addressed me as Representative or Representative Vance, not a one," she said. Many of the messages urged Vance to oppose Gov. Mike Dunleavy's proposed cuts to K-12 education.
Middle school student to be disciplined for Instagram post
By Megan Mazurek, KTVA Anchorage
Photo: KTVA
A student from Mirror Lake Middle School is facing disciplinary action for an Instagram post seen over the weekend. The Anchorage School District is calling the post, "a potential non-specific threat." It's not clear what the context of that post was, or what it alluded to, but it was enough for a concerned citizen to bring it to the attention of the principal. "We have to take every one of those situations seriously and investigate every single one to the fullest extent we can," said Catherine Esary, director of communications for the Anchorage School District. "Student safety and our staff safety, we say it all the time, that that is our most important priority, and it is." The Anchorage Police Department did follow-up with the student who posted the message.
Student films premiere at KCHS
By Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion 
Students, parents and teachers gathered to watch dozens of student-made films. Photo: Victoria Petersen
The Kenai Peninsula School District hosted a student film festival. Students, parents and teachers came to the Kenai Central High School auditorium to watch dozens of short films made by students in the district's Quest program.
Despite the films short time limit, students stretched their creativity. Some films featured original student animation, and another was a stop-action style video made with Lego toys. Students attending the film screening were greeted with the red carpet treatment, complete with a photo backdrop opportunity.
Petersburg's Esports team becomes official
By Angela Denning, KFSK
Petersburg High School junior, Jack Byrer is the first coach of the school's Esports team. Photo: Angela Denning/KFSK
It's official. Esports is a sanctioned sport in Alaska. At Petersburg's School Board meeting Tuesday night Activities Director, Jaime Cabral, announced that Esports has been sanctioned by the Alaska School Activities Association.
Esports is video gaming but in school it includes teams that compete against other schools online. Teams use the skill sets of individual players to overcome their opponents.
"We are the only school in Southeast who has it," Cabral said. "There are nine school districts across the state that [have teams]: Mat-Su, Anchorage, Lower Kuskokwim, Peninsula, and so it's been really cool."
Internet services for School Districts
By Senator Lyman Hoffman for the Delta Discovery
Senator Lyman Hoffman
Photo: Alaska Legislature
This week I introduced SB 74, An Act relating to funding for Internet services for school districts, which proposes to increase the minimum broadband requirement for school districts from 10 megabits per second (Mbps) to 25 Mbps.  Districts that qualify for discounted rate for internet services under the Federal Universal Services Program are eligible.  This legislation will help to bring improved broadband services to rural Alaska and help improve services and infrastructure for schools across the state.
Rural Alaska school district buys Anchorage hotel to expand educational opportunities
By Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News
Photo: ASD & LYSD CTE Partnership video
A rural Alaska school district hoping to improve low graduation rates has purchased a $2.7 million Anchorage hotel so its older students can attend technical and college classes in the city, getting opportunities they don't have back home. Under the voluntary program, junior and senior high school students from 10 villages in the Lower Yukon School District will stay nine weeks at a time - about a quarter of a school year - at the former Long House Alaskan Hotel. The Southwest Alaska district purchased the hotel last month, officials said. Among the benefits, students can take medical, electrical, aviation, hospitality and other courses at King Tech High School in a partnership with the Anchorage School District. The program is expected to start next fall.
ANSEP hosts Middle School Academy for 49 Bering Strait School District students
By Alaska Native News 
The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program is hosting 49 students from the Bering Strait School District this month for Middle School Academy at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Throughout the two-week, residential component, students learn about science, technology, engineering and math through various hands-on activities. The program is designed to motivate students and spark an early interest in higher education and STEM careers.
Following a collegiate-style application process, students wrote admission essays for the component. The 49 students from 12 Alaska communities chosen to participate include:
Anchorage School Board candidate Q&A: Public vouchers for private schools. Yes or no?
By Anchorage Daily News 
The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for the April 2 election to the Anchorage School Board to answer a series of questions on issues facing those bodies. We're publishing select responses daily. The answers were fact-checked when facts were cited and edited for spelling, grammar and writing style.
Q: What are your thoughts on school vouchers or public support for private schools?
National Republican group invests in Anchorage School Board races
By Devin Kelly, Anchorage Daily News
Conservative candidates for Anchorage's local races for School Board are drawing an unusually well-financed independent advertising campaign this year, boosted by a national Republican organization focused on building what it calls a "farm team" of candidates for higher office.
An independent political group, Families of the Last Frontier, has spent about $42,000 on radio ads and robocalls supporting Anchorage School Board candidates Kai Binkley Sims and David Nees, campaign finance reports show. Some of the ads and robocalls feature an endorsement from former Anchorage Mayor Rick Mystrom, while others highlight the candidates' backgrounds. Binkley Sims is an engineer and part-owner of several businesses, including the Anchorage Daily News, and Davis Nees is a retired math teacher. The group's top donor is GOPAC, a national Republican group based in Arlington, Virginia. The organization's funders include the beer company Anheuser-Busch and the tobacco company Reynolds American, federal disclosures show.
Former Ketchikan school board president withdraws nomination for judicial conduct commission
By Associated Press, APRN 
Trevor Shaw
Photo: Liz Ruskin, APRN

A former Ketchikan school board president has withdrawn his nomination for a state judicial conduct commission.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy nominated Trevor Shaw for the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct. Shaw faced questioning over his relationship to a former Ketchikan teacher accused of sexual abuse and a recall effort. Shaw said former teacher Doug Edwards was his childhood pastor and officiated his wedding but said he didn't know about any allegations against Edwards until Edwards' arrest. Edwards faces sentencing next month. Shaw resigned from the school board amid what he called a convoluted recall process.
North Slope superintendent announces resignation
By Shady Grove Oliver, The Arctic Sounder 
Stewart McDonald
Photo: NSBSD
North Slope Borough School District Superintendent Stewart McDonald announced his resignation at the board of education's March meeting on Thursday. "I will be retiring at the request of my family," McDonald said, reading from a letter he gave to Board President Roxanne Brower before the meeting. "I have learned many valuable lessons from the people of the North Slope communities. (My family) and I have made lifelong friends. I have met many goals set by the school board." McDonald did not elaborate upon his reason for stepping down after two years with the district. " ... I came up to accept this position and to work with a wonderful team of people to make a difference for our students," he said. "I have enjoyed this work immensely. This has been, easily, one of the most educationally best experiences in my 27 years."
Delta/Greely School Board Appoints New Superintendent of Schools
By Delta Greely School District 
The Delta/Greely Board of Education is very pleased to announce their unanimous choice for a new Superintendent, Mr. Shaun Streyle, beginning July 1, 2019. He made the following statement upon his appointment: " It is a tremendous honor to be selected as Superintendent for the Delta/Greely School District. I look forward to working alongside the community and all stakeholders to build on the great successes already taking place. Thank you for the warm hospitality and kindness you have shown me over the past couple of days. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this community and school district in the future."
Mr. Streyle will be coming to the Delta/Greely School District after having served as a teacher, a principal at both Kenny Lake School and Glennallen School, assistant superintendent, and currently the interim superintendent of the Copper River School District. He brings to the Delta/Greely School district his unique experience in Copper River where there has been a focus on developing personalized learning and innovative techniques designed to make education relevant and successful for each student. Mr. Streyle holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD; a Master of Education from UAS, and a Superintendent Endorsement from UAS.  
Yupiit School Board Appoints Superintendent of Schools
By Yupiit School District
The Yupiit Board of Education is very pleased to announce their unanimous choice for a new Superintendent, Ms. Cassandra Bennett, effective immediately. Ms. Bennett has been serving as interim superintendent since mid-January 2019.
Ms. Bennet made the following statement upon is appointment: "I have worn a number of hats throughout my educational career and been afforded the opportunity to explore a variety of cultures. My educational trails have taken me from North Carolina to the clean air of Alaska, to crystal waters in Aruba to hollers of West Virginia, surfing in the Hawaii Department of Education and a long awaited return to Alaska. Yupiit District has welcomed me with open arms and I am motivated to serve the families and students in our villages. Our mission is to assure all students succeed in every environment and that is what we will do."  
Cassandra Bennett has been serving as interim superintendent since mid-January, 2019. Previously she has served as the principal for the Akiak School since July 2018. Cassandra spent 2 years (2016-2018) as principal of Kamehameha School in Hawaii, she served as an education officer for the Hawaii Department of Education, taught for a year in Fort Yukon School District and served as principal in the Craig City School District. Ms. Bennett holds a B.S. in Early Childhood from Atlantic Christian, an M.S. in Child Development and Family Therapy from East Carolina University, and from Campbell University an M.S. Certificate in School Counseling and Family Therapy, an M.S. in Educational Leadership and a Pastoral Care Master of Divinity.

Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings

Chatham School District
The five-member Board of Education for Chatham School District is conducting a search for a Superintendent. The successful candidate should have outstanding educational leadership experience as an effective education administrator. In addition, he/she should have experience working with diverse communities, have an excellent knowledge of fiscal practices and management of resources and an appreciation and desire for rural living.
Applications must include the following:
  • Current Resume (dates of employment must be included)
  • All applicable transcripts
  • At least 3 letters of employment references (includes contact information)
  • Copy of Alaska Type B Certificate
Search Timetable
Application Deadline: April 15, 2019 (must arrive by midnight)
Employment Begins: July 1, 2019
Send Application Materials To:
(Digital submission of materials is highly desired, preferably as PDF files.)
(Hardcopy) Kevin Frank, Sr., School Board Chair
Chatham School District
P. O. Box 109
Angoon, Ak 99820
If you have any questions, please call: 907-788-3302
Looking for a New Superintendent?
The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting superintendent searches for over 20 years.
Learn about our Search Services >

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