Lon Garrison

The AASB Annual Conference - Convening to Ensure Opportunities for All Students


Jenni Lefing

Are you registered? AASB’s 69th Annual Conference is coming up next week!




Save the Dates for our December Trainings:

  • Executive Administrative Assistants Training
  • Winter Boardsmanship Academy
  • Youth On Boards


Kami Moore & Lauren Havens

Understanding School Environments with the School Climate and Connectedness Survey

SCCS Info & Registration


Commentary Newsletter Archive

Click on photos to see larger size

9th Annual Maintenance

Employee Conference!

Nearly 50 district maintenance personnel from districts across Alaska attended the October 5-6 Anchorage event to learn from each other and various professionals. AASB, APEI, and ALASBO collaborated on the event to support these important folks in our public education system! Resources

Chatham Strategic Planning

AASB's Timi Tullis and Lisa Worl led a planning session with the Chatham board, superintendent, and community members to develop a district strategic plan based on the group's vision of preparing all students for a local and global future while strengthening and sustaining culture.

Does your board need help developing a strategic plan? Email Timi Tullis



The AASB Annual Conference – Convening to Ensure Opportunities for All Students

Lon Garrison, Executive Director

Every year in early November, the AASB Board of Directors and the members of our association (school boards and their superintendents) will convene in Anchorage to learn, share, and reinforce the commitment to governing public education in Alaska. The theme for 2022 could not be more appropriate: Ensuring Opportunities for All Students.


Alaska’s public education system struggles mightily with underfunding, staff shortages, climate challenges, social-emotional challenges, partisan divisions, and community apathy. However, one thing has not changed and stands alone to help combat these negative forces; the will and dedication of school board members and superintendents to do what it takes to ensure opportunities for all students. 




Are you registered? AASB’s 69th Annual Conference is coming up next week!

Jenni Lefing, Membership Services Manager

We hope to see many of you in Anchorage November 3-7 at Hotel Captain Cook for this year’s Annual Conference. Over 40 districts have registered to attend the largest annual gathering of school board members in the state. This gathering is a unique opportunity for school boards to come together and share ideas, concerns, experiences, and explore ways to collaborate. 

We are also excited to host our first in-person Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) since 2019! YLI brings high school students together from throughout Alaska to be part of engaging breakout sessions and empower youth to use their voices to be change-makers in their schools and communities. 

Annual Conference starts Thursday November 3 with two pre-conference sessions; Ready Set Govern for new school board members, and Experienced Board Member Academy focused on Board-Superintendent Relationships.



Hurry! Registration is Still Open!

Join us November 3-6 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage

This year’s in-person Annual Conference features two General Sessions, over 15 breakout sessions, roundtables, snapshot sessions, networking opportunities, June Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser, Delegate Assembly, an Exhibition Hall, and much more!



Joel Isaak

Director, Tribal Affairs, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development

Joel Isaak is Dena’ina from Kenai Alaska. He uses the unique way the arts uncover understanding for working in an educational environment that combines a formal Western education model with customary traditional Native Alaskan life ways.


Dr. Janelle Vanasse, Ed.D.

President, Alaska Pacific University

Throughout her career, Dr. Vanasse has elevated the educational experience for Alaska Native students. She believes that scholarship and leadership are enhanced when influenced by our authentic selves and delights in recognizing past students in emerging leadership roles.

Annual Conference Sponsor Guest Columns

Connect with us at the Conference!



Alaska 529, Something for Everyone

Lael Oldmixon, Executive Director, Alaska 529

My team and I are very excited about the partnership we’ve formed this year with the Association of Alaska School Boards. Our missions are very much aligned. We are both working hard to ensure that every youth in Alaska is able to achieve their potential and is able to secure the education they need to get there.

Education, in its many forms, is the foundation that all the achievements we want for our kids is built on. Some planning is needed to ensure that students are able to cover the costs of education and training after high school. This is where Alaska 529 can be a valuable resource.

For those of you not familiar with Alaska 529, let me share the basics.

Read More



Intro to Professional Boundaries for 

School Board Members

Barbara Thurston, Executive Director, APEI

As a school board member, it’s likely you’ve heard mention over the last couple of years of work being done by AASB, APEI, and others in relation to Professional Boundaries as a way to prevent child abuse. For people who are not working directly with this issue, it can be unclear just what’s meant by Professional Boundaries, and how you as a school board member can utilize Professional Boundaries to help protect children in your district.

Professional Boundaries is a term used to describe the behavior expected of school staff in relation to their interactions with the students in their care. When an educator violates those professional boundaries, and intrudes into a student’s personal physical or emotional space, it is referred to as a boundary invasion.

Read More



Lynx Education - Professional Partners for Schools, Communities, and Organizations

Jesse Carnahan, CEO, Lynx Education

We understand education. For decades our team has worked with Alaska school districts, large and small, throughout the state providing professional services and support to students, teachers, administrators, and communities.

We understand the complexities of Alaska and of the people who live here. Our goal is to fill the space between systems and learning by partnering, supporting, and empowering educational teams and community partners.

We work hard to make systems work for you. From professional development to high-level administration to educational technology, our team can develop strategic plans and implement meaningful solutions that support your district’s goals.

Read More



NGSO Satellite Opens Door to Advanced Educational Tools and Opportunities

Vickie Kelly, Business Development Manager Alaska

Since the end of COVID-19 lockdowns and school shutdowns, many papers and research reports have been released looking at the impact of school shutdowns on the health, mental health, advancement, development, and education of students. But, surprisingly, far less attention has been paid to the deeper, societal issues that the pandemic exposed regarding access to digital tools and capabilities.

As the pandemic closed school systems and locked the doors of classrooms, students across the lower 48 and parts of Alaska had the opportunity to switch to digital learning from their homes. However, in the more remote and rural areas of Alaska, this was not a possibility.

Read More



Pharmacy benefits for Alaska school districts: What to look for in a PBM

Philip Carroll, VP, Sales and Account Management, Integrated Prescription Management (IPM)

With its rugged terrain, lush forests, and sprawling tundra, Alaska is often ranked among the U.S.’s most beautiful states. The natural landscape however can also lead to challenges in providing access to care and prescription medications to people across the state. 

Isolated areas often don’t have a local pharmacy and depend on their prescriptions being filled in a major city and then flown to individual towns for delivery. Volatile weather conditions can further complicate prescription access and delivery. This can be especially concerning for high-risk patients who take temperature-sensitive medications requiring special handling and 48-hour delivery windows.

Read More

Visit these and other exhibitors in the Conference Exhibition Hall


Now for Next Workshop

Turning the curve on Alaska's

postsecondary outcomes


AASB is co-hosting the Now for Next workshop on Monday, November 7 at the Hotel Captain Cook. It's free to attend for those who attended Annual Conference, but space is limited.

This day-long workshop will follow on the heels of AASB's Annual Conference and give school board members, families, educators, employers, and policymakers time to explore how we can work together to ensure that each student has a plan for their future, communities have the leaders they need, and employers have the Alaskan workforce they desire. 

Contact Emily Ferry with questions.

Registration will open in November after Annual Conference


Executive Administrative Assistants Training

Anchorage Hilton

This training is an opportunity for Executive Administrative Assistants to learn, connect, and share ideas with colleagues from around the state. Topics covered will include New Laws & Regulations, Human Resources, Role of Board Secretary, and much more!


Winter Boardsmanship


Anchorage Hilton

This year’s School Law & Policy Day

will focus on

Collective Bargaining

in Public Education

Friday, December 9 - School Law & Policy Day

Join John Sedor as we journey into the world of collective bargaining. Negotiations professionals from multiple perspectives will help us explore this critical aspect of public education including: Attorney and Negotiator Saul Friedman, NEA-Alaska, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Commissioner Ligia Velasquez, and Front-Line Spokespersons and Participants (who will be named later).


Saturday, December 10 - Equity Day

Equity Day will focus on Equity within the Science of Reading as well as connect with students this year’s Youth on Boards- to connect, plan together, and discuss best ways to work together.


Youth on Boards

Anchorage Hilton

AASB is proud to offer student school board representatives, and aspiring student representatives, training on how to serve on a school board. This new two-day training for student school board representatives will happen at the same time as the Winter Boardsmanship Academy. Scholarships are available.

Sessions will include: 

  • How to serve on and work together with a School Board
  • Advocating for self and peers
  • Making policy changes 
  • Effective joint decisions

Student leaders and board members will also have opportunities to connect, plan together, and discuss best ways to work together. If your school district has a Youth Representative on your board, they may benefit from this training. Use this Youth on Boards Interest Form to let us know if your district is interested in this training. We will reach out with registration information when it is available.


For more information on Youth on Boards, contact Claudia Plesa at

Youth On Boards workshop information flyer

More information on best practices for supporting Student Board Members


Kami Moore

Understanding School Environments with the School Climate and Connectedness Survey

Kami Moore, School Climate and Connectedness Coordinator and

Lauren Havens, Data and Evaluation Coordinator

Each year, the majority of Alaska school districts collect and use school climate data to improve and strengthen school environments, relationships, and connections between students, staff, & families.

One Alaskan school district team looked at their students’ responses and saw that 40% of their students said they would not be missed if they were absent from school. That sparked a discussion amongst school staff. The first part of the discussion was disbelief by many school staff. “There must be something wrong with the data.” “How could students actually believe that we did not care if they showed up to school?


2023 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS)

2023 Statewide SCCS Window:

January 16 – March 31

Districts select 1 five-week window for students & staff


We invite your district to participate in the 2023 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS). Each year, the majority of Alaska school districts collect and use school climate data to improve and strengthen school environments, relationships, and connections between students, staff and families.

DEED Launches Important Trauma-Engaged Practices and Policies Survey

On October 17th DEED, with the support of the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA) and the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB), launched the Trauma-Engaged Practices and Policies Implementation Survey.


A group of experts familiar with Alaska’s Transforming Schools: A Framework for Trauma-Engaged Practice in Alaska developed the survey, including staff from Alaska school districts, AASB, the Mental Health Trust, DEED, the Alaska Division of Public Health, and the Center for Human Development at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The survey aims to gather a better understanding of the use of trauma-engaged practices in schools across the state. Results will be used to inform how DEED and partner organizations can better support districts and schools in their efforts to integrate a trauma-engaged approach.

School principals have been sent an invitation asking them to convene a small team to complete a single survey for their school. The survey will be open from October 17 to November 11. Schools are strongly encouraged to participate. Please email Sharon Fishel with any questions.


Uncertainty Remains Regarding Forward Funding

“Fine Tuning” Episode 3

Lea Filippi, Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

We continue our Commentary series “fine tuning” by noting that the Legislature has tried to do some “fine tuning” as it relates to the timing of funding for Alaska’s school districts, but until state revenues stabilize school districts will still need to deal with substantial uncertainty while trying to dial in their own budgets for next fiscal year. 

In August, the Alaska Supreme Court issued its full written decision in State of Alaska v. State of Alaska, which finally resolved a lawsuit between two branches of government. That case had been of particular interest to lawyers in part because of the unusual posture of the case which involved the Alaska Legislative Council, acting on behalf of the state legislature, suing Governor Dunleavy and others executive branch leadership for failure to execute a budget as written.


Sanctioning rogue board members

Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian

In general, people who serve on nonprofit boards or in local government are peaceful and compliant. But every once in a while, you get a rogue board member. What can be done? We believe that it’s important for boards to be prepared to sanction rogue members when necessary.

This is an unpleasant subject. However, all human organizations, even benign institutions like hospitals, schools and retirement communities, depend on power enforcement for their survival. If a member on your board is disrupting your work, we recommend you seek allies and take action.


How can we communicate our district’s mission and vision to the public?

Answer: There are a number of ways the district can communicate its mission and vision to the public. These include, but aren’t limited to: reading the mission and vision at each meeting, posting them in the board room and around the school, include them on the district’s website, sharing them on the districts job advertisements, and having advisory boards and site councils read them at each of their meetings. 

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



DEED Seeks Applications for State-Tribal Education Compacting Demonstration Grants

We are seeking applications based on geographic representation, variety of educational methodologies, representation of different size schools and communities, and overall statewide representation. The intent is to have a demonstration project that shows how State-Tribal Education Compact schools can work across all of Alaska. The goal of the demonstration phase is to lead to a more permanent widely available education compacting process.

Read the Request for Applications

Report Examines Mental Health Supports In Alaska's Schools and Communities

The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority released a new report examining current mental and behavioral health supports within Alaska’s school districts. The report includes information on the role of schools in youth mental health, the state of youth mental health, activities that can advance progress, and case studies of how rural and urban school districts are working to implement, and sustain mental health supports.

Read the Report


Michael Swain, Jr. Receives 2022 MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award

Michael Swain, Jr., Bristol Bay Borough School District (BBBSD) School Board Member, was awarded the 2022 Don MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award by the Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA). Swain graduated from Bristol Bay High School in 1992 and has served on the BBBSD school board since 2003. During his tenure he has held the positions of board secretary and president. Swain is also a two-time past president of AASB and currently serves on the NSBA Board of Directors and is chair of the American Indian/Alaska Native Council.


Bill Hill named Alaska’s 2023 Superintendent of the Year

Bill Hill, superintendent of the Bristol Bay Borough School District, was named 2023 Alaska Superintendent of the year by the Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA). An alumnus of the school district, Hill has served as their superintendent since 2013. During his tenure, he has focused on improving the education system, implementing early literacy programs, developing Career & Technical Education programs, and implementing Alaska Native Science and Engineering programming while fostering relationships with the community. 


REAA School Board Election Results

Here are the Official Results of the Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA) school board elections held on October 4, 2022. 

Click Here to view a list of communities located in each REAA district and the school district they are a part of. 

To view REAA boundaries, click on the map at left.

A Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA) is an educational area that is established in an unorganized borough of the state AS 14.08.031(a). REAA elections are administered by the State Division of Elections.


Anchorage – Anchorage School District to hold community town halls at schools recommended for closure

– Anchorage Daily News

Fairbanks – School district receives $1 million grant to boost math gaps

– Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Juneau- Weiss departing as Juneau School District superintendent - Clarise Larson & Mark Sabbatini, Juneau Empire

Kenai – Homer teen accused of TikTok threats that prompted Kenai Peninsula school lockdowns

– Anchorage Daily News

Kodiak – A new generation of Alutiiq speakers fight language loss in Kodiak – Claire Stremple & Valerie Kern, KTOO / Alaska Public Media

Kotzebue – NANA Allocates $1.5m to Fund Northwest Arctic Borough School District Early Learning Programs – Beth Rue, NANA

More Alaska School District News


Confronting rising bills and flat state funding, Alaska schools say they are at a fiscal cliff – James Brooks & Lisa Phu, Alaska Beacon

AFN votes to oppose constitutional convention over concerns about impacts to key rural issues such as subsistence and education

– Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News

Alaska students stay steady in reading but decline in math since pre-pandemic, says national assessment

- Lisa Phu, Alaska Beacon

Representative Peltola appointed to U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor – KINY, Juneau

What to know about the application for Biden’s student loan relief

– Cory Turner – NPR

New coding program available statewide for Alaskan students

– KINY Juneau

More State and Federal News

Association of Alaska School Boards  |

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