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.
MAY 2021
  • The Opportunities (and work) Ahead by Lon Garrison
  • The World Has Changed, but the Board’s Job Hasn’t by Timi Tullis
  • 32nd Legislature Pays Tribute to Education Advocate Norm Wooten
  • 2021 Session Scorecard: Impact of AASB Priorities on Legislation
  • 2021 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS) results now available! by Jenni Lefing
  • Culturally Responsive Education - What is it and how do we move from the “Knowing to Doing” gap? by Lisa Worl
  • Trauma-Engaged Toolkit Featured as Promising Practice for Improving Education Outcomes
  • History of Education Policy series - Transitioning to a Standards-Based Education System by Jerry Covey
  • “I’ve Been Censured…Now Let’s Go to Court!” The First Amendment and Board Self-Governance by John Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
  • Jurassic Parliament: Amendment in Robert’s Rules
  • Ask AASB: Due to a resignation, we had to fill our Vice President's seat. Do we have to reorganize the entire board?
  • Save the Dates - AASB Fall Boardsmanship Academy, September 18-19, and AASB's 68th Annual Conference, November 4-7
  • Registration - NSBA Online Equity Symposium, July 13-14
  • FAFSA information and assistance
The Opportunities (and work) Ahead
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director
As the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, we look to the summer ahead and perhaps some well-deserved time off, with a sense of relief and trepidation.

The past year has brought us challenges we could not have imagined. At the same time, it provided some unique occasions to critically examine our education system.
Lon Garrison
It pushed administrators and school boards to face some complex realities about the challenge of meeting every student's needs in order to get an excellent education every day. Unfortunately, that did not always work. But maybe, just maybe, it has given us a real opportunity to work towards solutions that we might otherwise have missed or put off.

The World Has Changed,
but the Board’s Job Hasn’t
Timi Tullis, AASB Associate Executive Director
As we come to the end of one of the most challenging years any of us will ever experience, it is worth reminding ourselves of our roles and responsibilities as Board Members.

Regardless of all the changes this year, as school board members, your ‘job’ did not change, and the same core roles of the job before COVID-19 remain today.

These core principles will ensure an effective board.

Timi Tullis
Legislators gathered at Juneau's whale sculpture on May 26, 2021 to present a citation from the 32nd Alaska Legislature to Norm Wooten in recognition of his 31 years of education advocacy. (From L-R) Sen. Gary Stevens, Rep. Harriet Drummond, House Speaker Rep. Louise Stutes, Norm Wooten, Rep. Andi Story, Sen. Jesse Kiehl, and Sen. Roger Holland.
32nd Legislature Pays Tribute to Education Advocate Norm Wooten
AASB Advocacy Director and longtime education advocate Norm Wooten was honored by the 32nd Alaska State Legislature with a citation commemorating his 31 years of dedicated service to the children and youth of Alaska.

The citation was read during Senate and House floor sessions. On Wednesday, May 26, a group of Senators and Representatives that included the House Speaker and co-chairs of both the Senate and House Education Committees gathered for an in-person presentation ceremony at Juneau's whale sculpture near the AASB offices.

Legislators attending the event have known Norm in various professional capacities—some as far back as the early 1990s—and praised his leadership and advocacy for Alaska's K-12 educational system, unwavering commitment to student achievement, and willingness to share his deep knowledge of education policy.

"It's been wonderful working with Norm, as I've been in the legislature, and he's been here at the Association of Alaska School Boards," said Sen. Stevens (R-Kodiak). "He's done a tremendous job, and I'm very, very proud of him."

Rep. Drummond (D-Anchorage) complimented Norm's leadership abilities. "It's been such a pleasure to know you, and to know how committed you are to the children of this state," she said. "There haven't been many Alaskans who have made it to the national leadership level of their organizations. Norm served as president of the National School Boards Association, and I'm proud of him for that," Drummond said. "He let them know about Alaska!"

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Holland (R-Anchorage) first met Norm during this year's legislative session. "You always had great input," he said.

Rep. Story (D-Juneau) said legislators could always count on Norm's opinions and pointed out that he "really knows the importance of urban and rural school board members coming together to unite on education issues, and knows our kids all have it in them to do well." Story said the legislature has to find a way to address the instructional gap and provide students with the support they need to shine. "Thank you for cheering us on, Norm," she said.

Senator Kiehl (D-Juneau) commended Norm's skills as an education policy advisor and political strategist. "The legislature will be the poorer for you leaving education policy and advocacy," he said. "We'll miss you."

"You have done well for the young people of Alaska, and we all thank you for that, Norm," said House Speaker Rep. Stutes (R-Kodiak). "The multitude of hours that you have spent for the benefit of the whole, that's huge."

As she presented the citation to Wooten, Rep. Story made the following statement:
"The 32nd Alaska Legislature admires you so much and your commitment to kids. This proclamation comes with the best wishes for your success and with our gratitude for your work with school boards for the benefit of our kids."

In his acceptance remarks, Wooten stressed the ongoing need to support student success. “People have many second chances in life, but they only have one shot at a good K-12 education. It is so important that we get it right,” he said.

"I want to thank you all for the work you do as legislators. I tell folks frequently, you may agree or disagree with what a legislature does, but everybody there is working their tails off," Wooten said. "It's hard work, and it's amazing work."

The Impact of AASB Policies and Priorities on Legislation
As the First Session of the 32nd Legislature concludes, we've compiled a summary of how key bills have aligned with AASB board policies and the priorities of our members.

Education issues were front and center as never before this session, generating a considerable amount of discussion, debate, and legislation. As part of AASB’s Advocacy efforts, over 100 education-related bills were tracked and their progress mapped.

AASB provided testimony to committees and consultation to legislators on a range of education bills. This input, coupled with crucial testimony provided by school board members, truly made a positive impact this year.

A majority of bills introduced this session did not advance very far through the legislative process. Many will be taken up again when the Second Session of the 32nd Legislature convenes in January 2022. Most of the 28 bills on this list have received committee hearings and have a greater likelihood of becoming law and impacting school district operations.

Many thanks to all who advocated for Alaska’s students by participating in AASB Legislative Academies, Zoom meetings with legislators, and providing oral and written testimony to committees. Your experience and counsel was heard and appreciated by lawmakers, and made a big difference in helping to shape key education legislation.
28 Bills Aligned with AASB Policies & Priorities
2021 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS) results now available!
Jenni Lefing, AASB School Climate and Conference Coordinator
School districts received their 2021 School Climate & Connectedness Survey results on May 14. This year, 25 districts administered this statewide survey to transform school climate and strengthen relationships, factors that are linked to student success.
Jenni Lefing
This has been a unique and challenging year, with learning taking place in-person, remotely, or a mixture of both. But, no matter where learning happens, school climate still matters. The importance of school climate does not stop when you leave a “brick and mortar school.” Feeling safe, connected, and supported is still essential for students to be motivated to learn and for staff to create positive conditions for learning.

Culturally Responsive Education - What is it and how do we move from the “Knowing to Doing” gap?
Lisa Worl, AASB STEPS Partnership Coordinator
Last spring, several of our STEPS annual gathering participants participated in a book study of Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain with Zaretta Hammond. 

That interest led to an opportunity for 30+ teachers, partners from Juneau, Sitka, and Chatham, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Goldbelt Heritage, and STEPS district staff and partners, to register and join a STEPS-sponsored Zaretta Hammond online training and learning community on culturally responsive teaching.
Lisa Worl
In the midst of the pandemic, this online, asynchronous training provided a year-long space designed to help teachers and administrators learn principles behind culturally responsive instruction and “close the Knowing to Doing Gap.” The participating school staff fine-tuned their ability to use culturally responsive teaching and common language across their district.

Trauma-Engaged Toolkit Featured as Promising Practice for Improving Education Outcomes
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in a recent report, listed Alaska’s Trauma-Engaged Toolkit as a case study of effective practice for improving education outcomes for students who have experienced trauma and adversity.

The Transforming Schools: Trauma-Engaged Toolkit, released in 2019, was co-developed by the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) in partnership with the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), Alaska school district boards and staff, community partners, and education organizations. DEED reports that more than 3,000 copies of the framework have been requested and provided to educators, administrators, and school staff.
OECD report: Improving education outcomes for students who have experienced trauma and/or adversity
The OECD report, Improving education outcomes for students who have experienced trauma and/or adversity, examined the best available research on the causes and effects of adversity and trauma in children, specifically factors that increase poor educational experiences and outcomes, as well as factors that support resilience.

Includes report excerpt: Case Study of Alaska’s Transforming Schools Framework

Strategic plans are critical to the work of School Boards. A good strategic plan sets the vision for a district, and provides a road map for the Superintendent in managing the district.

This Month's Plan: BSSD
Launching our new Commentary segment, Highlighting Strategic Plans,
is Bering Strait School District.

AASB staff Timi Tullis and Tiffany Jackson facilitated their strategic planning session in April. The end result, a strategic plan which truly reflects the local values of the district, and what the community feels is necessary for their students to be successful.

The district's Vision and Mission statements are presented in
the English, Inupiaq, and Akuzipigestun languages/dialects.
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.
Transitioning to a Standards-Based Education System
Jerry Covey, former Commissioner,
Alaska Department of Education, 1991-1995

The most significant change to Alaska’s public education system, during the years I served as commissioner of education, was the structuring of the foundation for the state’s present-day, standards-based public education system.

To provide context for the need—and the readiness—to develop education standards, let’s look back in appreciation of the changes that occurred in our public education system from 1976 to 1991.
Jerry Covey
Rapid growth—spurred by the transformational work of Commissioner Marshall Lind and other state leaders, together with unprecedented amounts of funding—fueled a significant expansion of Alaska’s public education system: School districts on the road system built new schools and added programs and services. Rural districts experienced a construction boom and built 105 secondary schools. Rural school boards and educators were gaining important experience at governing and at delivering education to the first generation of high school students who were not sent away to government boarding schools.

More from the History of Education Policy series:

Shirley Holloway, former Commissioner,
Alaska Department of Education, 1995-99, 2001-03

Marshall Lind, former Commissioner,
Alaska Department of Education, 1971-1983, 1986-87
“I’ve Been Censured…Now Let’s Go to Court!” The First Amendment and Board Self-Governance
John M. Sedor of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Part 8 of the series, Ripp'd from the Headlines

Does being a Board Member mean that I don’t have the same free speech rights as other community members? How do I comply with Board Bylaws regarding ethics if I disagree with what the Board is doing? Do I get summers off?
John Sedor
Two of the above questions will be answered by the US Supreme Court within a year.

In the meantime, test your knowledge: In only one of the cases below did the Court rule in favor of the censured board member. Which one is it?

Amendment in Robert’s Rules
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
The motion to amend presents many challenges.
We hope this article provides some clarity.

4 Minute Read - Includes downloadable PDF flow chart
Due to a resignation, we had to fill our Vice President's seat. Do we have to reorganize the entire board?

The quick answer is no, you do not. You can simply fill the seat that has been vacated.
A bit more about reorganizing the board: At ANY POINT during the year, the board can ask to put reorganizing on the agenda. It does not have to wait until there are newly elected members. Reorganization is like any other agenda item and must be placed on the agenda using the same guidelines as any topic.
Read more answers to frequently asked questions at ASK AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
Save the Dates!

AASB’s Annual Conference

November 4-7 2021
Hilton Anchorage
We are excited to announce that Anna Maria Chavez, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the leading advocate for public education, will be our Saturday keynote speaker! 

AASB has started planning this year’s annual conference that will include networking opportunities, sessions to sharpen your boardsmanship skills, and topics that are on your mind right now. Keep up to date by visiting aasb.org
We can’t wait to
see you in person at
AASB’s Fall Boardsmanship Academy this September!
September 18-19, 2021

Bonus pre-Academy Day
Friday, September 17
Lakefront Anchorage
Main academy topics include:

  • Lessons Learned from COVID-19
  • Family Engagement
  • Mental Health Supports for Students
  • School Board Policy
  • Personnel Matters
  • and more! 

Pre-Academy day focused on
Board & Superintendent Relations with John Sedor & Timi Tulls
Registration Opens June 1st
Visit aasb.org for more information
Did you miss any of these informative webinars?

No worries!

Access the entire series here!

  • Holding Your Meetings Remotely
  • School Law Basics
  • Working with Your Community
  • Working with Your Board
  • Board Policy - Development and Use for Governance
  • The Board and the Budget
  • School Finance with an Expert!
  • The Superintendent - Building a Relationship
  • Effective Meetings & Roberts Rules of Order
Winners of the 2021
June Nelson Memorial Scholarship!

This year’s successful fundraising efforts 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 15 remarkable students from across Alaska and read their winning essays!
Join the Association of Alaska School Boards team!
Grant Manager/Grant Writer
Oversees federal, state, and private grants. Supports AASB and key partners within school districts, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations to ensure effective program implementation and utilization of grant funds.
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.
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.

As we wrap up the 2020-2021 school year, a big Gunalchéesh and Haw'aa to Hydaburg, Hoonah, Juneau, Sitka, Chatham, and Yakutat school districts, and each of our Promise Neighborhoods STEPS partners (school districts, Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sealaska Heritage Institute, University of Alaska Southeast. Association for the Education of Young Children, AWARE, SAFV, NAMI, and others). 

Each of the Promise Neighborhoods/STEPS grantee partners have been incredibly busy this year re-learning and adapting how to deliver cradle to career supports to students during Covid-19. Whether it was doing virtual home visits in early childhood, leveraging mental health supports, partnering more fully with families, making technology more accessible, or working on retention in post-secondary, this year required compassion, finding new ways to connect, and extreme innovation.
At the Annual gathering (virtual) of STEPS partners on May 6 and 7, AASB and partners continued to look at the conditions for learning for all students and ask: “How do we serve each student and family better?“ and “How do we do this better together?”
Some lessons learned from our STEPS partners this year:
  • We are resilient & adaptive
  • We hold a common vision for the future; one where ALL students can succeed
  • Our communities & culture are part of our schools

Some next steps:
  • We will use lessons learned from to partner more deeply with families
  • We will address the needs of the whole student from mental health to technology to basic needs
  • We will deepen our partnerships, share resources and hold each other up

Click on a session to access STEPS Partner Annual Gathering video recordings:

Visit the STEPS Partner Annual Gathering website to learn more about the conversations and work being carried out through this partnership. 
April STEPS Newsletter
“We will not go back to normal…We are being given an opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity.” 

- Poet and author Sonya Renee Taylor
To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects
Exploring, making observations, and asking questions can help foster a child's curiosity and build the foundation for life-long learning.

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

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!
Youth Alliance for a Healthier Alaska (YAHA)
Now Recruiting for the 2021-2022 School Year!
Applications are due May 31, 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.

Who to Recruit:
Youth with an interest in public health, helping people, informing the state on their lived experiences as Alaskans, and making changes in their communities.
The completed application, materials, and a letter of recommendation are due May 31, 2021 no later than 5:00 pm, either via survey monkey, or to our office (by hand delivery, mail, fax, or email).

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education recently published the Higher Education Almanac. It found that the cost burden for Alaskans students to access postsecondary opportunities was among the lowest in the nation. Alaska also had the highest rate of postsecondary students graduating without debt.
Need FAFSA Assistance?

The priority deadline to file the FAFSA for the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) and the Alaska Education Grant (AEG) is June 30.

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education offers multiple support pathways to help students, families, schools, and districts with the FAFSA submission process.

Visit the Alaska FAFSA Completion website to find information about virtual Alaska FAFSA Completion Campaign events and download FAFSA Completion & State of Alaska Financial Aid resources.
The February Equity Online Symposium was a huge success with more than 2,000 registrants. We will be continuing those important conversations and introducing topics of safety for our schoolchildren during the July 13-14 event.

Through NSBA’s Center for Safe Schools and Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education (DIRE) initiative, you’ll explore the themes of DIRE through the lens of school safety and equity. 
  • Day one will align the work of the Center for Safe Schools and make connections between issues of institutional racism on areas such as student mental health and discipline. 
  • Day two will lean deeper into the role of the board in understanding and interrupting systemic impediments to safe and inclusive school environments. 
Join an Equity Council

NSBA’s Councils offer unique opportunities for school board members and school leaders to get involved, strengthen their advocacy skills, and be part of a dynamic collaboration.Learn more about the councils.
APEI offers Professional Boundaries for Educators staff development to ALL districts, regardless of membership

Professional boundaries are such an important topic to cover with staff members this Fall.
APEI is offering district-wide Professional Boundaries for Educators staff development to ALL districts, regardless of membership. These 90-minute training sessions will be presented during eleven dates in August and September and are open to anyone who wants to attend.

As you build your Fall agenda for staff development, be sure to include these virtual LIVE training sessions.  

You MUST register in advance to attend. Click the registration button below to view all of the training slot options available and select a time/date that works best for you.
Professional Boundaries for Educators
Training Sessions
11 dates available in August and September
ACPE Stakeholder Focus Groups

The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education (ACPE) has entered into the next phase of our agency-wide strategic planning with the goal of more effectively and efficiently delivering financial aid and postsecondary access resources across our state. Your feedback as education stakeholders in Alaska is vital to us in this process.
ACPE will be hosting two stakeholder focus groups on June 10 and 23. These two focus group sessions will help us further explore and fine-tune our strategic plan and more concretely identify ways to increase postsecondary access for Alaskans.

To attend either session, please register below.
June 10, 2021
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
This session will be offered via Zoom.
June 23, 2021
2:00pm – 3:00pm
This session will be offered via Zoom and in person at the ACPE Dimond Center in Anchorage.
Who's Your Hero?
Nominate Your Favorite Youth for Doing Good in the Community

Calling all youth heroes! Alaska Communications seeks nominations for its annual Summer of Heroes scholarship program with Boys & Girls Clubs - Alaska.

People can nominate Alaska youth, ages 6-18, who are making a difference in their communities. Up to six youth heroes will be awarded a $1,500 scholarship and earn special recognition in their local community.

Now in its 11th year, this community program aims to promote awareness and support for youth development programs throughout the state.
Nominate your hero via the online form at www.AlaskaCommunications.com/SummerofHeroes
or at Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska clubhouse.

Nominations are due July 2
Athletes As Leaders Training Opportunity 
August 2 & 3, 2021
The Alaska School Activities Association is excited to begin implementation of the program Athletes As Leaders for the fall of 2021. Athletes As Leaders is a program for high school athletes on girls’ sports teams. The program aims to empower student athletes to take an active role in promoting healthy relationships and ending sexual violence. Athletes are encouraged to be leaders in changing social norms at school (and beyond) to a culture of safety and respect. The program is suggested to be used in conjunction with the prevention program for boys' teams, Coaching Boys Into Men which is currently being implemented in the State of Alaska. We believe everyone plays a role in creating a safe community.
We are tentatively planning a two day training session in Anchorage August 2 & 3, 2021 with the program developer Rebecca Milliman. Rebecca is the Prevention & Education Manager for the Harborview Abuse & Trauma Center in Seattle. Our goal is to train up to two advocates from each major urban area who would then work with a statewide coordinator to facilitate and monitor program implementation. Once the pilot programs are in place, the coordinator would then broaden the trainings to rural Alaska.
Please reach out to the female leadership within your district/area to those who you feel would fit well as an Athletes As Leaders resource. We would like to have a list of confirmed attendees prior to the end of the school year so that we can appropriately budget for travel and lodging. ASAA will provide travel and lodging for those outside of Anchorage and a small stipend for all participants.
Direct questions, interested advocates and contact information to:
Brian Hosken
Alaska School Activities Association
Student Service Coordinator
Coaching Boys Into Men Coordinator
(907) 244-1336
October 21-24, 2021
Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé
Submit a
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The Alaska Council
of School Administrators
is pleased to announce:
Alaska Principal of the Year

Chief Ivan Blunka School Principal Robin Jones has been named Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals Alaska Principal of The Year for 2021.

National Distinguished Principal

Trailside Elementary School, Principal Heather Jones, has been named Alaska Association of Elementary School Principals National Distinguished Principal for 2021.

Kelly Shrein named 2021-2022 Alaska Teacher of the Year by DEED

Commissioner Michael Johnson announced Kelly Shrein of Northwood Elementary in Anchorage School District the 2021-2022 Alaska Teacher of the Year.

Kevin Neyhard at Hopson Middle School in North Slope Borough School District was named alternate.

Former Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell selected to lead University of Alaska Anchorage
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
Former Republican Gov. Sean Parnell will be the new leader of the University of Alaska Anchorage, the state’s largest university. Interim University of Alaska President Pat Pitney announced that she had picked Parnell as the next UAA chancellor. 
Parnell beat out Pearl Brower, the former president of Iḷisaġvik College, along with Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop and five other finalists.

University of Alaska Anchorage will return to in-person teaching this fall
The University of Alaska Anchorage will have students back on campus this August for the fall semester. Classes begin on Aug. 23, and the campus will open to faculty, staff and students Aug. 2. Employees will return to on-campus work later this month or next, and those who are vaccinated won’t have to wear masks.
The statewide University of Alaska system halted in-person classes in March 2020. They have been held online since.

Photo: Mark Thiessen
University of Alaska’s teacher education programs support Alaska’s future
Alaska Native News
Amidst a nationwide teacher shortage, the University of Alaska is focused on increasing its teacher pipeline to provide the state with the workforce it needs and help shape the future of Alaska.
According to a University of Alaska workforce report from Dec. 2020, nearly 90 percent of graduates are working in education within a year of finishing their degrees.

States Rush to Vaccinate Teens as End of School Year Nears
Bloomberg Law
States are moving quickly to vaccinate teens with Pfizer’s Covid-19 shot before the summer, with one moving ahead of a key advisory panel.

Health officials across the country say they’re rolling out in-school vaccination clinics to take advantage of the recent clearance of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine for children as young as 12. They’re hoping to reach adolescents before the end of the school year to boost their state vaccination rates.

Photo: Getty Images
Visit the DHSS website to browse available appointments with select providers in your area and make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.
State to launch mobile platform so Alaskans can show they’re vaccinated
Nat Herz, Alaska Public Media
Alaska Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy has said his administration won’t require vaccine passports. But it is getting ready to launch an online platform that Alaskans can use to look up and display their COVID-19 vaccination records, officials said at a news conference.

It’s called MyIR Mobile — short for My Immunization Record — and it will also allow Alaskans to show they’ve received other types of shots, not just the ones for COVID-19.

Paper cards like this one, shown by retired chemistry teacher David Boyd at a January COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Anchorage, could be replaced by a digital system that the state of Alaska is preparing to launch.
Photo: Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media
Health officials urge Alaskans to keep following local mask rules after CDC relaxes guidance for vaccinated people
Annie Berman, ADN
State health officials are urging Alaskans to continue to follow local mask requirements and business-specific rules after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention relaxed its guidance for those who are fully vaccinated.

In a significant shift, the CDC said that fully vaccinated people can now go safely without face coverings in most indoor and outdoor settings.
Rosa and Harold Meadors, visiting from Seattle, cross West Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage. Photo: Emily Mesner / ADN
But many communities across the state — including Anchorage and Juneau — still require mask-wearing in most public settings, and most as of Thursday afternoon had yet to make any changes based on the latest guidance.

“The CDC was very clear about this, that you should still wear well-fitted masks when required by federal, state, local, tribal and territorial laws, rules and regulations within local ordinances,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s state epidemiologist.

‘Thankful for everything they’ve done’: Anchorage students turn health workers’ selfies into art
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
Throughout the pandemic, communities across the country have looked for ways to honor health care workers and essential employees with everything from synchronized applause to jet plane flyovers.

In Anchorage, student artists participated in their own project, channeling their skills into unique portraits of local nurses and doctors and other essential staff like cleaners.

Anchorage health care workers pose with the portraits of themselves on May 5, 2021 at the Alaska Native Medical Center. The portraits were created by students in the Anchorage School District based off of selfies the workers submitted. Photo: Anchorage School District
Many families have chosen home school during the pandemic. In Alaska, the rate is especially high.
Samantha Davenport, ADN
Sharice Bradley of Eagle River began home-schooling her four children last fall with the help of a pod — a small group of students from different families learning together from home. It was a means of making do during the pandemic.

The Bradleys had moved to Alaska in August. Her children — ranging in age from 5 to 12 years old — were part of the pod in Eagle River until COVID-19 cases spiked in late 2020. Then, Bradley chose to continue teaching at home, through Family Partnership Charter School.

Sharice Bradley leads her children in
a homeschool history lesson. From left, Connor, 5, Elara, 8, Bradley, Eden, 11, Kael, 12, and Titan the pug. Photo: Loren Holmes / ADN
Here’s how Alaskans can get help with monthly internet bills
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK - Bethel
The Federal Communications Commission announced a new program to help households pay their internet bills. The emergency broadband relief package offers a $75 subsidy on internet bills to all who live on tribal lands and meet other qualifications — but everyone living in Alaska automatically meets the first criteria.

“All of Alaska is considered Tribal lands for purposes of the enhanced EBB discount,” FCC spokesperson Paloma Perez wrote in an email.

A tower that is part of GCI’s TERRA network in Western Alaska. Photo: Courtesy of GCI
GCI to upgrade wireless speeds across Alaska
Wesley Early, KOTZ - Kotzebue
The state’s largest wireless internet provider is planning a major boost in service for both urban and rural Alaskans.

The next major upgrade to Alaska communities will bring 1-gig speed to Nome and Kotzebue later this year. GCI spokeswoman Heather Handyside said the upgrade will bring that part of the state more in line with Anchorage internet speeds.

GCI Antenna. Photo: Sir Mildred Pierce/Flickr Creative Commons
Governor Creates Task Force on Broadband
Office of the Governor
Governor Mike Dunleavy signed Administrative Order No. 322 to establish the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband to address the growing need for reliable, high speed connectivity for all Alaskans. The Task Force will consist of 11 voting members and two ex officio members.

Legislature sends Alaska ferry reform bill to governor
Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska - Juneau
State lawmakers sent a bill to the desk of Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Wednesday that boosters say will ensure better long-term planning for the state-run ferry system.

The Alaska Marine Highway System has been struggling with deep spending cuts, an aging fleet and declining ridership as it runs fewer ships to coastal communities.
But it’s also come under fire for poor planning decisions that have kept its brand new Alaska-class ferries tied to the dock.
The 280-foot Hubbard Alaska Class Ferry tied up in Ketchikan. Photo: Eric Stone/KRBD
Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, said the ferry reform bill would replace an existing advisory panel with a nine-member Alaska Marine Highway Operations Board tasked with crafting a short- and long-term vision.

Biden signs bill to allow cruise ships back into Alaska
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media
President Biden signed a bill that will allow cruise ships to return to Southeast Alaska this summer.

Alaska’s congressional delegation was at the White House for the signing ceremony. Alaska Congressman Don Young said it was an accomplishment to change an old law, the Passenger Vessel Services Act, that stood in the way.
Tourists disembark from the Ruby Princess in 2015. Photo: Leila Kheiry/KRBD
“First time the Passengers’ Act has been touched in about 135 years,” he said. “We feel great as a delegation. We got it done in 10 days.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act a critical step toward normal for Alaska’s economy.

Vaccine Policies For Major Cruise Lines Returning to Alaska
Cruise Industry News
Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises are on their way back to Alaska this summer.

Here's a look at their Alaska restart details and COVID-19 vaccine policies:

Alaska Senate approves state budget with $2,300 dividend, but critics say it's a 'raid' on the Permanent Fund
James Brooks, ADN
Alaskans could receive a Permanent Fund dividend of between $2,300 and $2,400 per person this year under a state budget approved by the Senate. But that amount is not yet certain and comes with controversy because it requires the state to violate limits on sustainable spending from the Alaska Permanent Fund.

The Alaska Legislature ended its 2021 regular session, though its work isn't finished. Lawmakers still have to achieve a compromise between the Senate's proposed $6.2 billion budget and a different plan approved by the House earlier this month.
Sen. Mike Shower, R-Wasilla, exchanges a fist bump with Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, after Shower's budget amendment increasing the maximum amount of this year's Permanent Fund dividend passed the Alaska Senate on Wed night, May 19, 2021 at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. Photo: James Brooks / ADN
In a 30-day special session three negotiators from the House and three from the Senate will write a compromise bill that picks construction projects across Alaska, decides services and sets the final amount of the dividend.

Alaska lawmakers sprinted to the almost-finish. But now their work is stalling amid PFD dispute.
Nathaniel Herz, Alaska Public Media
Alaska lawmakers sprinted to try to finish their work before the regular session’s constitutional deadline last week. But they failed to pass the budget by then, and now, as a special session begins in Juneau, their momentum seems to have stalled, amid disagreements over the size of the Permanent Fund dividend.
The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau.
Photo: Skip Gray/360 North
Lawmakers had been eyeing an adjournment by this coming Memorial Day weekend. But now, a week before state workers are warned of looming layoffs and six weeks from a government shutdown, the goal posts appear to be moving:

Sitka Republican Sen. Bert Stedman, the co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, responded bluntly Monday when he was asked if a weekend adjournment was realistic. “No,” he said. “I don’t think so.”

The next political battleground: school boards
Stef W. Kight, Axios
The debate over coronavirus precautions and school reopening has fueled a surge of new candidates for school boards across the country.

Why it matters: What was traditionally a nonpartisan, hyper-local role is now at center of a swirling national political debate. Conservative and progressive parents have clashed over when and how to reopen classrooms — and it's pushed some of them to run for office themselves.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
"Historically, we've actually seen where some school board seats have gone uncontested — sometimes for years — and now we're seeing multiple candidates for seats," National School Boards Association CEO Anna Maria Chávez told Axios.

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Annie Berman, Anchorage Daily News

A new group of Alaskans officially became eligible for a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine — and 15-year-old Grady Cutchins received his shot the first evening he was eligible.
Emily Mesner, Anchorage Daily News

Rain held off as Bartlett High School’s graduating class of 2021 crossed the stage and collected their diplomas. Seniors donned graduation-themed face masks as they made their entrance to the football field while friends and family erupted in cheers from the stadium bleachers. The boisterous celebration then spilled out into the parking lot following the ceremony as celebratory leis were gifted to the graduates in a field of confetti and hugs. The Anchorage School District will graduate about 3,000 seniors this year.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media

When David Paoli left his family to join his peers on the way to the outdoor ceremony, he was wearing a graduation cap decorated in sealskin — a way to honor his Iñupiaq culture during a major milestone. But as Qassataq and her family looked out at the sea of graduates gathered at the football stadium, they couldn’t pick him out. A school employee had taken his sealskin cap away. They told Paoli it violated the rules and gave him a plain cap to wear instead.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media - Anchorage

The Anchorage School District will receive $112,451,632 from the American Rescue Plan, which is the latest round of federal COVID relief funds. The district will use the funding over at least the next two school years. At least 20%, or $22,490,326, of the money must be used to address students’ learning loss, according to federal guidelines. But ASD wants Anchorage residents’ opinions on how to spend the rest of the money — almost $90 million.
Tim Holoday, Delta Wind

The class of 2021 finally got to bring their high school journey to a successful close. Although it was a smaller class as far as the number go, they displayed that it is the quality of the class and not the quantity that counts.
Tyler Thompson, KDLG - Dillingham

Alora Wassily, Trista Wassily and Harmony Larson were learning about the history of colonization in social studies class. They visited with the Curyung Tribe and learned the story of “The Seven Sisters.”
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

School board members who voted for public schools to open to all for in-person learning last December said they made the right choice.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Fairbanks school district announced that people age 16 and older no longer need to wear face masks or social distance at schools and at district events.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Twenty-one public education workers have been notified they may not have a job in August, according to Yumi McCulloch, public relations director for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
Dan Bross, KUAC - Fairbanks

A Fairbanks teacher has been put on administrative leave after comments she made during a discussion about George Floyd in her class at Lathrop High School, according school officials. A parent notified the school of the comments last Wednesday. In a letter to parents on Friday, Lathrop High School Principal Carly Sween described the comments as “racially insensitive.”
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

All principals in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District have undergone diversity, equity and inclusion training along with staff at about 12 of the district’s 34 schools.
Dana Zigmund, Juneau Empire

Pandemic-induced school closures and distance learning models have left many of Juneau’s high school students behind in their quest to graduate in four years. But, a plan to temporarily reduce the number of credits needed to graduate could help them get back on track. At this week’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Bridget Weiss suggested temporarily reducing the number of credits needed to graduate from the Juneau School District from 23 to 22.5, which is still 1.5 credits more than the state requires for high school graduation.
KINY Newscenter

A COVID-19 variant has been discovered in Juneau. The P.1 strain has been found in a case first reported two weeks ago--after the State of Alaska Public Health Lab analyzed it. Public Health maintains that no other reported cases have been connected to this case. This is not the first variant found in Juneau; the B1.1.7 variant was discovered in early April. Eight new resident cases of COVID-19 were identified in Juneau from May 8 to 10.Two of the cases are individuals at Mendenhall River Community School. Now, along with the classroom from last week, two classrooms at MRCS have been moved to distance delivery.
Bridget Dowd, KTOO

Soon after children 12 and up were cleared for the COVID-19 vaccine, Juneau officials opened clinics at four schools. More than 600 people got their shot at the youth clinics earlier this month. But not all of them were kids. While most were 12 to 15-year-olds, some parents and other students who hadn’t yet been vaccinated also chose to get their shots.
Alaska Native News

Governor Mike Dunleavy has directed the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Spill Prevention and Response (SPAR) to allocate up to $2.5 million for the safe removal of asbestos and debris left behind after an abandoned school building in Chevak burned to the ground last March.
Sarah Knapp, Homer News

After a year of Zoom classes and hybrid learning, face masks, social distancing, quarantining and COVID-19 mitigation plans, both Homer High School and Homer Flex High School gathered in person to celebrate the 91 graduating seniors in the class of 2021.
Sabine Poux, KDLL Dillingham

Graduations are milestones for every family. In Cooper Landing, this year’s graduation was also a milestone for the community. Linnaea Gossard became the Cooper Landing School’s first high school graduate Monday night, almost a decade after the K-12 school opened to high-schoolers.
Ashlyn O’Hara, Peninsula Clarion

A shower of balloons, a game of telephone and the distribution of roses alongside diplomas were all elements of Monday’s graduation ceremony at Kenai Central High School, where 68 seniors were honored.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Peninsula Clarion

As a school year defined by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic comes to close, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is working to hire more than 50 new staff members for schools across the borough.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will hire a new staff member and codify a process for handling allegations of sexual misconduct. The move is aimed at bringing the district into compliance with federal changes governing how instances of sexual harassment and discrimination are handled by administration. The district is expecting to implement a series of about six policies describing its Title IX personnel and Title IX process, which will bring KPBSD into Title IX compliance. Changes will include hiring and training new Title IX personnel, training teachers and staff and modifying parent and student handbooks.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Peninsula Clarion

Superintendent John O’Brien spoke with the Clarion about his 16 years of service in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
Maria Dudzak, KRBD, Ketchikan

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough looks set to reduce its contribution to the Ketchikan School District. This came as the borough assembly took its first steps toward approving a $55.6 million borough-wide budget and $48.1 million school district budget.
Eric Stone, KRBD

Ketchikan’s school district has a new top administrator. Last week, the school board appointed Schoenbar Middle School Assistant Principal Melissa Johnson to serve as interim superintendent. If her contract is approved by the school board, Johnson will lead the district for the next year or so. That’ll give the school board time to search for a permanent superintendent to replace Beth Lougee. She resigned April 30.
Eric Stone, KRBD

Ketchikan’s school board is set to interview the sole applicant for a vacant school board seat. Former Board Member Sonya Skan resigned earlier this month, citing medical issues. The lone candidate is Trevor Shaw. Shaw sat on the school board from 2013 until 2018, when he resigned. He was facing a citizen recall alleging that he hadn’t allowed a student board member to participate in a board discussion.
Johanna.Eurich & Patrick Williams, KYUK

In this episode of “Coffee at KYUK" Jamin Crow and Kaylee King, two high school seniors, talked with Lower Kuskokwim School District Media Instructor Patrick Williams about their years in the school district, and what they hope to do as they move into college.
Greg Kim, KYUK, Bethel

Some families in Bethel are considering moving if the next school year looks similar to this one. 18 parents, teachers, and students, nearly all from Bethel, called into the Lower Kuskokwim School District board meeting. They pleaded with the district to allow students to return to in-person school five days a week, and for sports to resume. The district is taking action to meet those demands.
Greg Kim, KYUK

Last week, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation began vaccinating children 12 to 15-years-old against COVID-19. YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges and Lower Kuskokwim School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins join KYUK’s Greg Kim to talk about this effort.
Angela Denning, KFSK, Petersburg

Erica Kludt-Painter, superintendent Petersburg schools – staying the course with protocols and practices for the last couple of weeks of school, but happy to hear about some vaccination for younger teens. Cautiously optimistic for the rest of the school year in-person learning as long as case numbers remain low. A hybrid in-person ceremony and socially-distanced parade for high school graduation.
Joe Viechnicki, KFSK, Petersburg

Petersburg High School is ranked number one in Alaska on the latest U.S. News and World Report’s national rankings of best public high schools in the country. The news outlet ranked over 17,000 schools based on performance on math and reading standardized tests, college level entry exams and graduation rates. The national ranking for PHS is 904th.
Mike Swasey, KHNS

Skagway, Haines, and Hoonah have the top three rated school districts in the state. That’s according to niche.com which compiles scholastic data nationwide.
KUCB, Unalaska

Due to COVID-19 crowd restrictions, graduation will look different than previous years. The graduation ceremony is limited to a small audience, and the general public should plan to watch over Channel 8 TV or KUCB's Facebook Live page. After the success of last year's graduation parade, the Unalaska City School District has scheduled a parade that will depart from Eagle's View Elementary School, circle the Valley Loop, and then head across the bridge to Amaknak Island, past the grocery store and airport and finally circle back over Standard Oil Hill.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB, Unalaska

School board president Fernando Barrera resigned from Unalaska's school board, leaving a vacancy on the five-person board that some fear could be hard to fill. After nearly 10 years serving on the school board, Barrera, who is also the facilities maintenance supervisor at UniSea where he has worked for roughly 25 years, resigned school board seat E.
Wrangell Sentinel

Wrangell High School graduating class wanted to do something different this year and the students were looking forward to staging the ceremonies on the city dock. But an unkind weather forecast pushed them back into the community gym
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KINY, Juneau

Now with more than 20 coronavirus cases in five Southeast communities, all possibly related to the Ketchikan High School Bill Weiss Wrestling Tournament and a small schools Region V Tournament at the same venue, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District is still working diligently with the city’s Emergency Operations Center to discover exactly what happened.
Greg Kim, KYUK

Sports are back in the Lower Kuskokwim School District. On April 29, the LKSD school board voted to allow both outdoor and indoor sports activities, including traveling within and out of the region for competitions. Parent permission will be required for students to participate, and local advisory school boards will have a say on whether sports resume in their communities. The district will implement a testing regimen for participants.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB, Unlaska

A rhythmic beating followed by soft clapping and cheering echoes through the Unalaska high school gym. It's the sound of about eight high schoolers hopping across the gym floor on their toes and knuckles — bodies hovering just inches above the ground. They're practicing the "seal hop," a Native Youth Olympics event. It's an event many athletes thought they wouldn’t have the chance to practice together this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
AASB Workshops for You and Your Board
AASB now offers condensed, distance-delivered versions of our popular workshops and training sessions. Member districts receive a special rate for AASB sessions: $600 includes preparation, up to 3 hours of training, and a post-training report.
  • Board/Superintendent Relations
  • How to run Effective Meetings
  • Board Self Evaluations (with a resulting board improvement plan)
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Board’s Quasi-Judicial Role
  • Using Your District’s Data for Planning
  • Data for School Boards
  • School Budget & Finance
  • Family Engagement
  • Youth Engagement
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Policy
  • Facilitated Superintendent Evaluation
  • Advisory School Committees
  • Charter Schools
  • Communications with your board
  • Labor Relations
  • Ethics
  • School Climate: What does School Climate & Connectedness look like now?
  • Trauma-Engaged Schools
  • Specialized facilitation:
  • Focus on particular issues
  • Choice of program
  • Scheduling to meet the needs of your board members and administrators
  • Team building
We can also provide customized solutions based on your needs. 
Please reach out to us.

For More Information

Email Timi Tullis or call 907-463-1660
AASB Superintendent Search Service
Looking for a New Superintendent?

The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting successful and economical superintendent searches for over twenty years.
Our Superintendent Search Service provides expert facilitation of the entire search process, including identifying the needs of the district, recruiting candidates, conducting background searches, facilitating interviews, and all the steps to help with the hiring process. Learn about our Search Service

If you would like AASB to conduct a superintendent search for your district, or have questions, Contact Us

Your school district is a vital member of the Association of Alaska School Boards, our state’s leading advocate for public education. Together, we work to ensure equity by strengthening the connections between schools, families, tribes, communities, and government so that every Alaskan child has the opportunity to receive a quality public education.

The many services AASB offers are designed to provide maximum benefit to our members in meeting their district's goals. Check out our Membership Benefits brochure and let us know how we can assist you!

Association of Alaska School Boards | aasb.org