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.
March 2021
  • In Memory of Ignatius “Iggy” Chayalkun
  • Guest Column - Creating REAAs and Settling Molly Hootch by Marshall Lind
  • 2021 June Nelson Memorial Scholarship winning essays
  • AASB Legislative Academy - Advocacy session summaries
  • Can Schools Discipline Students for Off-Campus Social Media Posts?
  • Jurassic Parliament - Using Robert’s Rules to Alter a Prior Action
  • NSBA 2021 Online Conference - Registration Specials
Navigating Uncharted Waters
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director
I have been reflecting recently on what unusual and uncertain times we are in. At this time last year, we were all just beginning to comprehend the immensity and potential severity of the pandemic that was progressing through our state and the country.

Alaska weathered the first portion of the pandemic storm reasonably well and I think many of us were hopeful that we might get by with minimal impact.
Lon Garrison
We know now that, like the rest of the world, we did see dramatic impacts and effects, especially on our education system. I observed that each community and each school district had to handle the pandemic in ways that made sense for them, i.e., local control. These decisions were not easy and often created controversy.

So here we are today, having sailed through some terrible storms and now we are coming out of the mist and into a new time that has both challenges and promise in front of us. We have real hope that some things can now return to a more normal pattern, yet we know it will never really be the same.

The key to making the best choices to navigate this new course will lie in your ability as school board members, superintendents, staff, students, and stakeholders to help each other.

Board Self Assessments Boost Effectiveness
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director

Dysfunctional Boards hurt the district, slow progress, and sadly most often hurts students and their achievement. If you have been on a board a while, I am sure you have experienced some dysfunction at the board table.

The most effective boards are the ones who ask, "How can we do better?"
Timi Tullis
So, how can a board go about becoming a more functioning board? A first and essential start to becoming a better board is to conduct an annual board self-assessment.

Is your board ready for a self-assessment?
Timi and Tiffany’s schedules fill up fast!

Reach out now to secure a Summer or Fall date
for their help facilitating your board self-assessment. 

Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson today!
A Model and Resources for Trauma Engaged Schools Planning
Heather Coulehan, AASB Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator
Many districts and schools have been working hard to become trauma engaged. As we look across Alaska, we can see this change. We hear school staff express a deeper understanding of trauma and the importance of social emotional learning (SEL).
Heather Coulehan
School staff respond differently to the trauma engaged school questions on the School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) and while participating in trauma engaged learning communities and training, we hear school staff asking deeper questions about how to do this work.

But there are still questions about what’s next. What does it actually look like to be trauma engaged in my district and in our schools and classrooms? How do we support the whole child? And how can I, as a board member, adopt policies, strategic plans and budgets that support this work?

Lisa Worl Receives 2021 Carla Timpone Award for Activism

At a virtual ceremony, the Alaska Women's Lobby presented longtime education advocate Lisa Worl with the Carla Timpone Award for Activism.

Ms. Worl was introduced by State Representative Andi Story, with whom she served on the Juneau School Board.
Lisa Worl
“Lisa is probably best known for her commitment to public education and advocacy for children,” Story said. "She served 16 years as a parent volunteer and substitute teacher, with the belief that parent involvement in schools improves the quality of education for all children."

Story went on to list Ms. Worl's many contributions to local and state education, including four years on the Juneau School Board, a member of the Great Alaska Schools steering team, and a legislative aide. She joined the staff of AASB in 2018 to help align educational practices from Pre-K to graduation and was recently chosen to serve on a municipal Systemic Racism Review Committee tasked with identifying racial and cultural barriers and addressing systemic bias.

In her acceptance remarks, Ms. Worl emphasized her passion for being a voice for kids and families who struggle. In thinking of the message she wanted to share in her acceptance remarks and the message she wanted to leave with others was, “How do we support these families who are doing the best they can to survive? How do we tap into their strengths, their resiliencies, so that they can thrive? That is the goal,” said Worl. “All our kids deserve to feel safe in the classrooms and schools. They all deserve to be supported in such a way that they can thrive, learn, and become who they’re meant to be.”

In Memory of Ignatius “Iggy” Chayalkun
It is with heavy hearts that we mark the loss of 43 year veteran school board member Ignatius Chayalkun. "Iggy" passed away on March 26th in his beloved Chevak.

He served several years as an active member of the AASB Board of Directors, was the first-ever recipient of the Carl Rose Governance Award in 2013, and tirelessly advocated for students across the state.

AASB thanks Ignatius Chayalkun for his service to the students of Chevak and Alaska.

We extend our sincere condolences to Iggy’s family and friends, the Kashunamiut School District board and staff, the students and staff of Chevak School, and the community of Chevak.
The December 2013 issue of Commentary featured a story about Iggy being the first-ever recipient of the Carl Rose Leadership Award. Read full screen.
Iggy receiving the Carl Rose Leadership Award at the 2013 Annual Conference
from Sue Hull and Charlene Arneson.
A congratulatory hug from Carl Rose.
Iggy displays his Carl Rose Leadership Award
as his wife Anna looks on.
This memorial tribute to Iggy was posted on the Kashunamiut district website
Iggy’s advocacy for children began when he served on the Parent Advisory School Board for the BIA Chevak School from 1973 to 1976. It was during this time the elders approached him to support the transition of the BIA Chevak School to an REAA Kashunamiut School District.

There was a lot of pressure for Chevak to join larger school districts, but the Tribal Council was determined to establish a Cup’ik school for the Cup’ik community.
Their vision was to integrate traditional and cultural education with the core subject content. Programs such as SeaWeek, Cultural Heritage, Cup’ik Arts & Tools, and Language were the outcome of these goals, and they have expanded to a K-4 Cup’ik Immersion program. Iggy was part of the KSD team that went to New Zealand with AASB to create the Cup’ik Language Story Books.

He was so passionate about supporting education for Chevak’s children that he continued to serve as a school board member for Kashunamiut School district from 1977 to the present, with the exception of maybe one or two years. 

In 2013 the Association of Alaska School Boards named Iggy “The state’s most outstanding school board member.” AASB president at the time Sunni Hilts said, “Ignatius Chayalkun always puts children first in his work as a school board member.” 

He was known to have a little sign that states, “Children First” in front of him in school board meetings to remind him that both he and the rest of the board must focus on kids and their education. 

More often than not you could find Iggy at the school first thing in the morning having coffee, greeting the students, and encouraging them to have a good day. Iggy was a true warrior for education. His contributions here will never be forgotten.
Guest Column
History of Alaska Education Policy
This series seeks to provide historical context for Alaska’s current education policies from the perspectives of those who helped to shape them.
Marshall Lind
Creating REAAs and Settling Molly Hootch
Marshall Lind, former Commissioner,
Alaska Department of Education, 1971-1983, 1986-87

I am responding to the question of what was my most significant accomplishment during my tenure as Commissioner of Education.

In reviewing some of my files, I was reminded that exactly 38 years ago I was asked the same question by the then Executive Director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators, Don Mackinnon, for inclusion as an article in the Council’s newsletter. His question was asked as I was preparing to leave the position that I was privileged to have held for 12 years.
I said at the time that I felt the efforts to decentralize the state operated school system and create the Regional Education Attendance Areas and settling the Molly Hootch consent decree, thus resulting in new opportunities for rural secondary students, were the most significant and lasting changes in Alaskan education for which I had an opportunity to play a part. I feel exactly the same way today!

My goal in writing this article is to give a bit of background to these issues and to recognize some of the many individuals who helped make these initiatives possible.

June Nelson Winners
AASB is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 June Nelson Memorial Scholarship!
Each year, association members, district superintendents, and students gather to raise money to award to Alaskan students to support their post-high school education pursuits.
This year’s successful fundraising efforts have allowed AASB to award fifteen, $1,500 scholarships, which may be applied toward the student’s choice of a business, trade, or college institution.

Of this year’s 95 applicants, thirteen graduating Alaska high school seniors, and 2 college sophomores, have been selected to receive June Nelson scholarships. One of the fifteen scholarships was awarded to a student pursuing a credential in career and technical education (a skilled trade).

Meet these 15 remarkable students from across Alaska and read their winning essays!
Upcoming Events
First Term Board Member Webinar Series

Thru April 22
Want to make sure you’re starting your new role as a school board member off on the right foot? Been on the board for a little while, but would like to brush up on some of the basics? Be sure to check out our First-Term Board Member Webinar Series!

This series of webinars will be held from January through April, and will cover topics such as conducting effective meetings, school finance, working with your community, school law, and more!
Registration is FREE
and Open Now!

April 1 – School Law Basics

Please join us, and a school law expert, as we will explore the basic laws that govern and regulate public education in Alaska. This informative hour with a school law expert will cover state and federal statutes and practices affecting a school board’s role and responsibility.
Other Upcoming Webinars

  • April 29, 12-1 pm - Holding Your Meetings Remotely
Previous Webinar Resources Available

  • March 25, 12-1 pm - Working with Your Community
  • March 11, 12-1 pm - Working with Your Board
  • March 4, 12-1 pm - Board Policy - Development and Use for Governance
  • February 25, 12-1 pm - The Board and the Budget
  • February 18, 12-1 pm - School Finance with an Expert!
  • February 4, 12-1 pm - The Superintendent - Building a Relationship
  • January 28, 12 - 1 pm - Effective Meetings & Roberts Rules of Order
AASB is Hiring!
Join the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) team!
Click below for position descriptions and application information.
AASB Finance Officer

Ensures legal and regulatory compliance for all accounting and financial reporting functions, oversees accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and financial risk management activities, and ensures successful completion of all financial-related activities.
Grant Manager/Project

AASB, an education-focused non-profit, is looking for a skilled and experienced professional to fill their Finance Officer position.
The Grant Manager/ Project Coordinator is a full time position responsible for supporting various grant-funded projects.
Fatherhood/Family Partnership Coordinator

A full or part time position supporting school district and community staff working with fathers and co-parents to strengthen fatherhood skills, deepen family/school partnerships, and improve co-parenting relationships.
Virtual Legislative Academy 

Slides, session video and other
resources are now available
Legislative Academy attendees listen to opening remarks from AASB Executive Director Lon Garrison
The Importance of Advocacy

While recognizing the challenges districts have faced during this long year of dealing with the pandemic, AASB Executive Director Lon Garrison emphasized the importance of having our voices heard on what's good for education at this critical point in the legislative session. "We can't take our eye off the ball," Garrison said. "We have to continue to be good advocates for those who don't have the opportunity to advocate for themselves."

He also highlighted upcoming events, including the availability of policy updates in April and at summer's end, a two-for-one registration opportunity to attend the NSBA Virtual Annual Conference April 8-10, and the July Board of Directors meeting to review and revise AASB's Long Range Plan.
Virtual Leadership & Legislative Academy
Saturday, March 20, 2021
SESSION SUMMARY: Legislative Context & Process
Norm Wooten, Advocacy Director, AASB
AASB Advocacy Director Norm Wooten began his presentation by emphasizing the importance of legislative advocacy by school boards this session. He said he is tracking 88 different education-related bills, about twice as many as are normally introduced in a typical legislative session. 

He discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on the legislative process this session, specific safety protocols that have put in place to avoid an outbreak in the Capitol building. He also provided an overview of progress being made in the House and Senate, some distractions that have impeded that progress, state budget funding options, and some of the likely outcomes of this session.

Norm Wooten, Director of Advocacy, AASB
During his bill review presentation, Norm focused on a number of bills that may have a good chance of passing this session, or at least be heard in committee. Of the 88 different education-related bills being tracked, he discussed about 40 bills, giving a brief overview of each bill’s sponsor, the intent of the legislation, and providing a sense of where each bill is at in the legislative process, specifically:
  • What committees they’re in
  • How many committees of referral they’ve been heard in
  • What the next committee of referral might be
  • The number of committees of referral they have been assigned to

3 Minute Read

Each slide lists the bill number, sponsor, and a brief summary of the bill.

Click on a bill number to see the bill detail. 
MINI-SESSION SUMMARY: Advocacy in an Urban Setting
Deena Mitchell, Anchorage School District
The morning schedule featured three 10 minute "mini session” presentations by members of AASB’s Board of Directors on how to conduct advocacy efforts from an urban, rural, and a Federal perspective.

Deena Mitchell from the Anchorage School District began by saying a big part of a board member’s job is communicating with legislators. “Advocacy doesn’t just happen during the legislative session,” Mitchell said. “It really is about building relationships year round with your legislators.” She suggested inviting them into the schools and keeping in touch with them on issues that are important to your district.

Ms. Mitchell described three methods ASD uses to connect with their legislators to advocate for district priorities.

MINI-SESSION SUMMARY: Advocacy in a Rural Setting
Marie Greene, Northwest Arctic Borough School District
Marie Greene began by pointing out that all board members know that when taking on the responsibility of serving our youth and school children that advocacy is a key part of the job. 

Throughout the years the Northwest Arctic Borough leadership has learned and improved their role in advocating, lobbying and educating State Legislators, the Governor, and the administration. She said the district continues to use the same process to influence policy and governance, and outlined methods they've used to achieve successful results.

MINI-SESSION SUMMARY: Advocacy on a Federal Level
Margo Bellamy, Anchorage School District
Margo Bellamy discussed the experiences she had while attending the last pre-COVID in-person legislative advocacy event NSBA sponsored in Washington DC. In describing her background, She recounted that after spending 40 years as an educator focusing all her attention on schools and kids, she totally missed the advocacy piece. It wasn’t until she ran for school board that she realized speaking on behalf of kids and families was her total responsibility. 

Following her election to the board, she decided to attend the 2020 NSBA Equity Symposium and Advocacy Institute in Washington DC to educate herself. It is important to embrace national advocacy, she said, because that is where federal policies are set and we as board members can have a voice in that process. Telling our stories and building relationships doesn’t stop at the local or state level. We have to go higher to the national level, she said.

SESSION SUMMARY: Like Size District Forums Share Out
Facilitated by Lon Garrison and Jenni Lefing, AASB
The day concluded with school board members meeting in three like-size district forums to discuss what issues their boards are focusing on this legislative session, based on AASB’s Legislative Priorities and Legislative Talking Points. 

Following the like size forums, participants reconvened to share the results of their discussions with the whole group. These are the top priorities groups identified during their conversations:

Urban/Large Districts
1. Funding – need predictable & stable forward funding.
2. Focus on SEL & Student Wellness, including mental health.
3. How to recover from COVID-19? What did we learn from last year?

1. Infrastructural challenges and threats due to environmental emergencies (eg changing river courses) and climate change (eg building failures due to melting permafrost)
2. Desperate need for improved and stable internet connectivity. (broadband)
3. Significant deferred maintenance needs, beyond those directly related to environmental/climate threats.
4.Transportation funding insufficient to meet realities esp rural/small districts.
5. Adequate & stable forward funding.
6. Student well-being; mental & physical health

Mid-Size/Municipalities & Single Sites
1. Education of WHOLE child:
- Mental health SEL
- Culturally responsive
2. School funding
3. Pre-K--pre literacy, reading comprehension skills coming from Pre-K skills
- Teachers, recruiting and retaining
- Alaska Marine Highway System
- Curriculum (civics, literacy)

To Explore:​​ 
How can urban districts express support for broadband internet and in rural areas?

Legislative Meetings
Monday-Thursday, March 22-25, 2021
Anchorage board member Andy Holleman discusses school reopening progress with Rep. Nelson, Rep. McCarty, and Sen. Revak. About 90% of elementary and 70% of HS/MS students have returned to classrooms amid excitement and apprehension about rising transmission rates.. "If we can come back safely in the fall, we’ll see numbers close to what they used to be," Holleman said.
Rep. Gilham listens as Cordova board members Barb Jewell and Pete Hoepfner present district priorities that support the 'whole student.' They urged full funding for the BSA, and supporting Pre-K, SEL, school bond debt reimbursement and the Alaska Marine Highway System. "Our health insurance has gone up over 300%," Hoepfner said, "and our district cost factors are based on the ferry,"
Chrya Sanderson of FNSBSD told Rep. Prax, Sen. Kawasaki, and Sen. Bishop that reading June Nelson Scholarship essays gave her a window into the challenges Alaska students face keeping up academically during the pandemic.
Senator Click Bishop told board members that legislators are "drinking from a fire hose" to unpack the latest round of COVID relief funding contained in the federal American Rescue Plan to determine how Alaska will benefit.
Senator Olson listens to presentations from Western Alaska school board members. Stable funding, teacher recruitment and retention, SEL, broadband access, building maintenance, and Power Cost Equalization were top priorities.
Rural school districts advocated for improved internet access, among other priorities. In order to participate in the virtual meeting, most board members turned off their video cameras to preserve limited bandwidth they have available.
Ketchikan school district Business Manager Katie Parrot said flat funding puts downward pressure on the district's budget as costs continue to rise. "Adjusting for inflation, the BSA is at a 2011 level," she said. "COVID relief funds have bought a bit of time, but school funding has not kept up with inflation."
Senator Kiehl told school board members he's looking for ways to support the Alaska Marine Highway System. "Reliable ferry service is a big lift," Kiehl said, "but we’re not going to quit working on it." He said he and Senator Stedman have been collaborating to address a number of issues specific to the Southeast Alaska region.
Virtual Meetings with Legislators
Facilitated by Norm Wooten, AASB Advocacy Director
Due to the pandemic, in-person appointments with legislators have not been possible this session. In response, AASB scheduled one-hour Zoom meetings during the week of March 22-25 to provide school boards with time to connect with their legislators to advocate for education priorities. All board members were invited to attend the legislative meetings, not just those who participated in the Legislative Academy. A total of 43 school districts participated in this series of legislative meetings.

Scheduling meeting times that worked for legislators during the peak of session activity was a challenge. Senate and House floor sessions, hearing schedules for 63 committees, and the personal schedules of 60 legislators were taken into account. Lawmakers who were unable to attend their scheduled meetings with school board constituents were asked to have a member of their staff attend, which some did. 

The legislative Zoom meetings were facilitated by AASB Advocacy Director Norm Wooten. In order to allow every district in attendance an opportunity to participate, each board was given 3-5 minutes to present their specific priorities. Legislators were given time to respond to board members' questions and provide updates on specific issues, legislation, and overall session progress.

The meeting format worked well for both legislators and school board members. Consolidating all of the school districts each legislator represents into a single meeting made the best use of the limited time they have available.

In addition to time efficiency, the virtual meetings provided a relaxed, less formal setting for all participants to talk, which often resulted in spontaneous and productive conversations that may not have occurred otherwise. The virtual format also provided some board members who may not be used to participating in legislative advocacy, a convenient opportunity to do so. 

Having multiple districts in the same meeting articulating closely aligned priorities clearly illustrated that despite a district's size or region, all have similar challenges and needs. Legislators experienced Alaska school boards “speaking with one voice” to advocate not only for their own districts, but for all Alaska students.

We'd like to express our gratitude for the increased member response to AASB’s advocacy outreach efforts this session. Following the Legislative Academy, readership of The Session newsletter increased by 10% and engagement with Testify By Text alerts and Call To Action emails has surged.

We appreciate your interest and support, and will continue working hard to keep our members up to date on the latest session developments by providing you with relevant and timely legislative information to support your district’s advocacy efforts.

Our sincere thanks to everyone who attended AASB's Legislative Academy and virtual meetings with lawmakers. Your participation demonstrated the importance of supporting public education for the future leaders of Alaska to our legislature.

Following the Legislative Academy, the AASB Board of Directors held their annual Spring Meeting virtually.
AASB Text Alert Service

Submit legislative testimony
from your mobile phone
in just 1-2 minutes
Opt-In to receive AASB TEXT ALERTS during the legislative session to
be informed of opportunities to testify by text on key education legislation.
Your mobile number will be kept private and will not be shared by AASB.

Are You Signed Up?
It's Quick, Simple, and Convenient.
NSBA is pleased to announce the transformation of its in-person NSBA 2021 Annual Conference Exposition to the NSBA 2021 Online Experience. This experience will bring world-class programming, inspirational keynotes, top education solution providers, and plentiful networking opportunities. Join us on April 8-10, 2021, for a fully transformed and memorable event!
Buy One Registration, Get One Free.*
*Use code NSBA2021. This offer does not apply to team registrations or existing registrations and may not be combined with any other discounts or promotions.

Before registering your district team, download the team registration guidewatch an instructional video, or read more about the benefits. Your district team can include superintendents, assistant superintendents, business officials, school safety officers, and other education leaders and staff.
FAFSA Resources
for Students, Families, Schools, and Districts
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form you need to fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Each year, over 13 million students who file the FAFSA get more than $120 billion in grants, work-study, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education.
The priority deadline to file the FAFSA for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) and the Alaska Education Grant (AEG) is June 30.

Need FAFSA assistance? The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) offers multiple support pathways to help students, families, schools, and districts with the FAFSA submission process.
Can Schools Discipline Students for Off-Campus Social Media Posts?
Clint Campion of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Part six of the series, Ripp'd from the Headlines

Think about this: today there are at least four billion active social media users in the world with teens in the U.S. spending an average of two hours per day on social media.
Clint Campion
These staggering numbers of social media users and social media posts have escalated the potential for disruption of school operations. Under current law, school officials struggle with the limits of their authority to discipline students for their social media activity when it impacts school operations. The U.S. Supreme Court will now, hopefully, give schools guidance on the limits of school authority to discipline students for off-campus, social media posts.

Changing Course: Using Robert’s Rules to Alter a Prior Action
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
It seems that a lot of confusion prevails within our local government bodies about the Motion to Reconsider and how to use it. This article describes when and how to reconsider a motion, and other ways of changing your mind as a body.

Can reserve funds the district has set aside in a capital improvement fund be transferred to our reserve fund if it needed for other items?
If the CIP fund balance in a district is ALL generated from budget transfers from the general fund, then the district can transfer it back to the general fund. 
However, this is really frowned on by the department, and it’s something they really look at. If a district is planning on doing this, they should work closely with the state, and explain to them the financial challenges the district is facing, and why this is necessary. 

If there are funds in the CIP account that came from the State, those funds cannot be transferred out of the CIP fund. Districts should keep some sort of spreadsheet accounting of what state funds are in the CIP account, and what operating funds are in the CIP account, keeping a log of the funds.
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at ASK AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
AASB STEPS Spotlight
Articles in this section are excerpted from the AASB STEPS Alaska Promise Neighborhood Newsletter that focuses on the work in progress among the Supporting Transitions and Educational Promise Southeast Alaska (STEPS Alaska) grant regional partners, who are striving to improve outcomes for Southeast Alaska’s youth.
Save the Date!
The Annual Gathering for our participating STEPS partners and community partners is scheduled for
May 6 & 7 and will be held via Zoom.
Please complete a registration form by clicking on the button below.
Hydaburg - Working Together for Post-Secondary Goal-Setting

In Hydaburg, collective efforts are inspiring students to think ahead about who they want to become and how they might get there. Post-secondary goal-setting is the new norm, with all staff working together to help students to imagine their own future.

Some of the activities include:
  • The guidance counselor met with students weekly to create plans. Each student creates a portfolio for the future.
  • Life after high school is represented throughout the school, including images of staff members in their graduation gear and their colleges on each teacher's door
  • The physical college and careers center in the high school is mirrored by a virtual Counselor’s Corner page where students and families can access information about scholarships and other opportunities
  • One fun activity in the Virtual Counselor's Corner is Hydaburg City Schools Virtual Calming Room where you can tap into a Haida Affirmations like this video put together by Susie Edwardson which explains how to say “I Love You” in Haad Kil

Yaghw Janaas, Susie Edwardson, an Alaska Native Language learner in Juneau, has a youtube channel with her videos in Haad Kil, the Haida Language. Her videos have been posted on Hydaburg’s webpage as a resource for students and families during remote learning.
Yakutat - School-Community Partnership Lends a Helpful Hand

Students and schools finding solutions for the community

A community member in Yakutat lost his left hand in an accident years ago. He has always had a basic prosthetic, but it didn’t include any fingers or gripping capabilities.

So, high school teacher Nate Endicott worked with his junior high and high school students to use a 3D printer to create a new prosthesis. With grips and fingers that move, the new prosthesis works like a real hand.

Students learned how to mold/shape, how a prosthesis works, 3D printer specs, and more through working on this project. The students continue to refine their work, fixing broken parts and creating new prosthetics for this community member to use.

The Yakutat community is really proud of this thoughtful and compassionate group of students. They are using STEM innovations from around the world to contribute to local solutions in their community.
To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
The beach can be fascinating at low-tide, but even your backyard or front stoop can offer new things for little ones to check out. What are some of your favorite outdoor spots to explore?

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

All approved vaccines shown to safely prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19

All Alaskans 16 and older can now get COVID-19 vaccines. That means Alaskans with ongoing health conditions can get their shots now.

Along with this widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines comes open appointments in many communities and more vaccine on the way in April, said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer.

Alaskans can schedule an appointment by visiting the website for vaccine scheduling or calling (907) 646-3322, which has open hours on weekends.
Youth Alliance for a
Healthier Alaska (YAHA)
Now Recruiting for the
2021-2022 School Year!
Applications due April 15, 2021

The State of Alaska is seeking 10 young people (ages 14-21) from across Alaska that are dedicated, resourceful, and creative, to advise the Alaska Division of Public Health on issues affecting teens such as substance abuse, violence, suicide, injury, teen pregnancy, nutrition, and fitness. Members in this session will also experience the participatory action research design process related to sexual and reproductive health.

APPLY Via Survey Monkey

DOWNLOAD the Application

VISIT our website
State & National News
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.
Alaska educators breathe sigh of relief as hundreds of millions of federal dollars roll in
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
Alaska schools have already received over $246 million from two rounds of federal COVID relief funds. The initial CARES Act passed in March 2020, and a second major stimulus, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act, passed last December.Now, even more money is on the way.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education announced each state’s allocation of funds from the latest round of stimulus — the massive American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress earlier in the month. Nearly $359 million will go to Alaska elementary and secondary schools.

Creekside Park Elementary School kindergarten teacher Rihana Gay conducts her first in-person class since the pandemic reached Anchorage in March 2020. Photo: Mayowa Aina
Emergency Broadband Benefit
Federal Communications Commission
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. Find out if you're eligible!

8 Alaska youths experienced a rare and serious inflammatory syndrome after COVID-19 infections
Morgan Krakow, Anchorage Daily News
Eight youths from Southcentral Alaska developed a serious inflammatory syndrome after recent COVID-19 infections, including some who ended up in the pediatric intensive care unit with severe complications, according to a report released Friday from state health officials.
The condition, known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C for short, can lead to inflamed organs — including the heart, lungs, kidneys and brain, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anchorage wants to let Alaskans turn smartphones into COVID-trackers. State officials aren’t sold yet.
Nathaniel Herz, Alaska Public Radio
Anchorage officials say they’re pushing closer to the launch of smartphone apps that could alert people who’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, though the initiative is still waiting for Alaska GOP Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration to approve it.
iPhoto: Thronx/Flickr)
Some two-dozen states, from Washington to Wyoming to North Carolina, have already launched exposure notification apps. The apps, which only work if people choose to turn them on, use Bluetooth technology developed by Google and Apple to alert people if they’ve spent time near another user who later tests positive for COVID-19.

Alaska House passes disaster extension, sends bill to Senate where narrower legislation could emerge
Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO Juneau
On Friday, the Alaska House of Representatives passed a bill to extend Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. The bill would make the extension retroactive to Feb. 14, when the declaration expired.

Dunleavy now opposes the extension, saying Alaska no longer needs to be in a state of emergency. That’s a change: Dunleavy proposed the extension bill earlier this year, before the declaration expired. But now, he wants a more limited set of provisions, not a full extension. Senate leaders have written a revised version of the bill in line with his request.

Rep. Tiffany Zulkosky, D-Bethel, speaks during a House floor session in the Capitol in Juneau on March 16, 2020. On Friday, she spoke in favor of House Bill 76, to extend Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s COVID-19 disaster declaration. Photo: Skip Gray
New legislation proposes steep fines for violations of Alaska’s open-meetings law, but opponents see an attempt at revenge
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News
JUNEAU — Anchorage residents opposed to pandemic-related measures and furious at the Anchorage Assembly are supporting legislation that would allow fines of up to $1,000 for violations of the state law that requires local governments to act in public.
Protestors walk around the Loussac Library
Photo: Emily Mesner
Opponents of the proposal include the Alaska Municipal League, Association of Alaska School Boards and the Municipality of Anchorage, and say the proposal is ripe for abuse and frivolous complaints that could discourage Alaskans from running for local office or volunteering for boards and commissions.

State senate committee digs into contentious early education funding bill
Tim Bradner, Anchorage Press
Legislators in Juneau are working their way through a new Senate bill that would fund early education and provide assistance for children in reading. The bill also provides new state guidelines for third graders who don’t meet proficiency standards in reading, with the option of delaying “promotion” to fourth grade.
School districts now establish those policies internally. SB 111 would set state guidelines that could turn into requirements.

Alaska State Capitol building
Photo: Skip Gray
Tshibaka resigns from Dunleavy administration and announces run for Murkowski’s US Senate seat
Becky Bohrer, Associated Press
An early Republican candidate announced plans Monday to seek the Alaska U.S. Senate seat held since 2002 by Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Kelly Tshibaka resigned as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration and issued a statement saying she is running “for the Alaskans who believe government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The D.C. insiders need to be held accountable to us.”

Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka
States Maintain Higher Ed Funding
Anna Whitford, Inside Higher Ed
Federal relief dollars appear to be enough to keep nationwide totals of state higher ed funding steady this fiscal year, even amid the pandemic. But almost half of individual states still reported funding declines.

With the help of nearly $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding, state funding allocations for higher education during the 2021 fiscal year remained roughly the same as last fiscal year.
Photo: Jeff Greenberg, Getty Images
Total state support for higher education edged up by 0.3 percent to $96.7 billion in the 2021 fiscal year, which began July 1, 2020, and will end on June 30, 2021. Without federal dollars, direct state funding levels would have declined by 1.3 percent this fiscal year.

Alaska School District News
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Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media

The Anchorage School District said it plans to continue keeping students as close to 6 feet apart as possible, even as federal officials relaxed their distancing recommendation to 3 feet last week. ASD Deputy Superintendent Mark Stock said there’s no need to drastically change the policy, but teachers will now have some flexibility.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

Eighty-three percent of teachers and other staff members who responded to a recent Anchorage School District survey said they were fully vaccinated. The survey was sent March 19 to all ASD staff, which includes 5,948 regular district employees and 2,875 substitute teachers and temporary employees. Out of 2,819 responses, 89.3% said they had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; 82.9% said they have received both doses. The district is not tracking its students who are eligible to receive the vaccine.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

After the death of George Floyd, the Anchorage School Board in June committed to developing anti-racism and equity policies. Nine months later, the board is discussing two policies, which it will likely vote on in April.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School Board approved a change to Deena Bishop's superintendent contract this week that raises her gross annual salary to $250,000. The raise gives Bishop another $15,000 per year, the agreement says.
Tim Ellis, KUAC

Students in the Delta Junction area will return from spring break and go back into their classrooms today, despite the growing numbers of covid-positive cases in the community over the past two weeks. “We are concerned,” says Superintendent Shaun Streyle. “The numbers are spiking up, and they have in the last two weeks.”
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Board of Education bet that student enrollment will rebound next school year and restored 78 jobs that were proposed to be cut in a new public education spending plan approved.
Robyne, KUAC

A big component of Alaska’s Number One vaccination status is Tribal Health Corporations. In the Interior, Tanana Chiefs Conference provides health care for 42 villages across the region. After weeks of successful vaccine distribution to the villages, TCC is now trying to reach people who live in Fairbanks, including FNSBSD teachers.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Patrick Frymark has been a teacher for almost a decade. In a normal school yearhe would be “in a groove” by nowBut this is no normal school year due to COVID-19, and Frymark still feels like he goes home after work wondering how things could be better.

Michael S. Lockett, Juneau Empire

The Juneau School District announced it will be holding in-house vaccine clinics for Juneau residents between the ages of 16 and 18, as well as any staff that hadn’t had an opportunity to get vaccinated. All Juneau residents ages 16 to 18 are eligible for the clinic, as are JSD staff that have not yet had a chance to receive the vaccine.
Dana Zigmund, Juneau Empire
After a nationwide search, a panel of school employees and site council members interviewed five finalist candidates for the Harborview and Auke Bay Elementary School principal jobs. A final decision is expected “very soon” with a “quick public announcement,” said Tim Bauer, human resources director for the Juneau School District. Four of the candidates are currently employees of the Juneau School District, and one is currently working in rural Alaska. Three of the candidates are under consideration for both openings.
Megan Pacer, Peninsula Clarion

Kari Dendurent and Eric Pederson came to teach in Homer as part of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District at the same time. It seems only fitting that they should move on together, too.
Dendurent, principal at Homer Middle School, has been selected as the next assistant superintendent for the school district. Pederson, principal of Paul Banks Elementary School, has accepted a position as the new director of elementary education for the school district.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Peninsula Clarion

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will use some of its federal COVID-19 relief funds to save teaching positions they had previously considered cutting. Including funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed by Congress earlier this month, the district has received three rounds of federal funding. Those funds come from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, fund.
Sabine Poux, KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District vaccinated over 300 educators and support staff against COVID-19 at clinics across the peninsula.
Eric Stone, KRBD

Ketchikan’s school board is set to discuss the district’s budget priorities for next school year. Teachers and parents in Ketchikan say their top priority is helping students catch up after the pandemic disrupted learning.
Andrew Kenneson, Kodiak Daily Mirror

On March 11, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, unleashing a wave of $1.9 trillion that will cascade across the country in coming months. There’s money for state and local governments, schools, vaccine distribution, housing assistance, restaurants and more, on top of checks for individuals and tax credits for parents with kids. 
Andrew Kenneson, Kodiak Daily Mirror

With all the disruptions that COVID-19 has brought to schools, more than 200 students could be taking part in a revamped and expanded Kodiak Island Borough School District summer enhancement program this year.
Johanna Eurich & Greg Kim, KYUK

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is breaking new ground in its efforts to protect students from inappropriate behavior by school district staff, including sexual grooming. The district has hired Dr. Janet Barry to help audit its policies and procedures, an effort that would go beyond the standards of “best practices” set by the Alaska Association of School Boards.
Johanna Eurich & Greg Kim, KYUK

With river erosion threatening the school in Napakiak, the Lower Kuskokwim School Board decided on March 16 to use $5,415,937.63 of its own funds to build the foundation for a new school. The state normally funds school construction projects, but Napakiak currently ranks fourth on the state’s priorities for new school buildings, which means the state likely won’t fund it this year.
Wesley Early, KOTZ

Half of the villages in the Northwest Arctic Borough are now allowing students to attend school in person, though at a reduced schedule. The decision comes as COVID-19 case counts drop and vaccination rates increase among residents in the region.
Schools in five village communities — Deering, Noorvik, Kiana, Kobuk and Shungnak — as well as the elementary school in Kotzebue, have moved into what’s called the green operation zone.
Erin McKinstry, KCAW

Since 1999, more than 40 schools in Alaska have closed because of low enrollment numbers, according to data from the state’s Department of Education and Early Development or DEED. Almost all of them were in remote places where schools are central to keeping small communities connected. The Southeast town of Port Alexander has struggled with low enrollment numbers for years, but they’re turning to a creative solution to keep their school alive.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB

Unalaska City School District officials are planning for a limited in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 on May 15.
There will likely be some restrictions on who is allowed to join the 25 seniors as they turn their tassels, according to Superintendent John Conwell.
Sage Smiley, KSTK

Bill Burr has been selected to lead Wrangell’s schools on a three-year contract. The school board unanimously selected Burr from among the three finalists for the position. He’ll come to Wrangell from the Delta-Greely School District in Delta Junction, where he’s been assistant superintendent since 2014. He’s also worked at rural Alaska schools as a teacher and administrator in the Aleutians and on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Larry Persily, Wrangell Sentinel

Students at Stikine Middle School and Wrangell High School will attend class remotely after a staff member at the secondary schools tested positive for COVID-19.
Alaska School Sports News
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Henry Leasia, KHNS

An individual traveling with Haines High School basketball teams tested positive for COVID-19 before departing for a series of away games. The results of the test came after the girls and boys teams competed in Craig.
Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News

The Class 4A state basketball tournament will begin Thursday in the Valley without the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears. The district issued a statement explaining its travel policy.“The school district has an obligation to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” it said in part. “The current COVID-19 risk status in Anchorage and the MatSu Borough is simply too high to approve travel to those areas at this time.”

Juneau School District Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss defended her decision to bar Juneau high school basketball teams from traveling to the state tournament in the Mat Su Borough
Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News

A Kodiak family is suing the school district after a former wrestling coach was arrested on allegations that he sexually abused one of the students he coached last summer.
Greg Kim, KYUK

Basketball is back in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The Lower Yukon School District and Chevak’s Kashunamiut School District are allowing students back in the gym, and some teams are even traveling out of the region for games.
Sage Smiley, KTSK

Wrangell’s basketball teams will not travel to Ketchikan for the 2A regional basketball competition. Wrangell’s secondary schools have been on distance learning since earlier this week after a staff member that worked at both Stikine Middle School and Wrangell High School tested positive for COVID-19.
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.

- 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