APRIL 2023


Lon Garrison

Good Governance and Fund Balances


April Smith

Student Success in Alaskan Schools

Has Many Measures


Jenni Lefing

Your Role in School Board Elections!


Maressa Jensen

Building Social Emotional Skills at School:

Highlights from 3 Districts


Commentary Newsletter Archive

SB 52 - Increase Base Student Allocation

Advocacy Resources Available Here

See What's New! Member Login

STEPS Annual Gathering May 2-3

Register Here



Good Governance and Fund Balances

Lon Garrison, Executive Director, AASB

This past week, an issue arose that demonstrates the need for good governance and its connection to the fund balances of each school district. The governor recently shared a table, compiled by the school finance staff at DEED, that showed the fund balances of districts as reported on their June 30, 2022, annual audits and DEED's estimates of unspent COVID relief funds. It seemed rather shocking.

This information caused quite a stir among legislators as the sum total for all these funds suggested school districts had hundreds of millions of dollars that were unspent. Unfortunately, the information in the table was grossly outdated and came with no narrative explaining the limitations of the information DEED collects as a statutory requirement. It does not convey the complexities of managing and reporting school finances. It was simply used for political purposes, to sow seeds of doubt that schools are struggling mightily to make ends meet. So what does this have to do with you as school board members? EVERYTHING!




Student Success in Alaskan Schools Has Many Measures

April Smith, Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board

In a room full of over 300 leaders in Alaska Education, a speaker asked what student success is. She asked anyone who thought a diploma was student success to stand. No one stood. She asked who thought “proficient” test scores were success. No movement. She asked about grades, a stir but no wave of agreement. Finally, people were asked what they did define student success as. Answers were varied but had a theme. Everyone could agree that student success looked different for every student and every community in Alaska. No one had it on their list that excellent NAEP scores were a defining measure of student success. Not a single parent, guardian, or educator I have ever met has spoken to me about their student’s standardized test scores.

During my time in Juneau this session, I was repeatedly asked about test scores. I was grilled about being “49th” and told money won’t improve test scores.  I was asked if I supported accountability, but not a soul could tell me what accountability meant. There were vague platitudes about making schools “better,” “respecting parents’ rights,” and “answering for the money,” and so on. Some people who did not support increased funding wanted improved test scores. Many people simply want students to have what they need to succeed in whatever they want to pursue.

Herein lies the problem. In order to find solutions to problems, the people trying to work together must have a clear understanding of the goals. We have a disconnect between the people with the money and those with the plans. School budgets are public documents and approved by DEED. Accountability for every dollar spent is built into the budget process. I fully support transparency and accountability for funds, meaning transparent budgets that show where dollars go.



AASB 2023 Legislative Priorities

On behalf of our member school districts statewide, the AASB Board of Directors has adopted three legislative priorities that focus on Funding, Educators, and Students. Supporting resolutions can be found in Where We Stand 2023.

AASB 2023 Legislative Priorities

Legislative Testimony Templates

AASB has created two templates for use in submitting written testimony to the legislature. We've included a Legislative Testimony Guide, along with a fill-able PDF testimony template and a Microsoft Word testimony template that can be edited to use for your own testimony. These templates can be used to respond to a call-to-action for testimony on a pending bill.

Who Represents Your School District?

Find out which legislators represent your school district during the 33rd legislature. Includes contact info for Senators, Representatives, and all Senate and House committees.

Find My School District Legislators



Your Role in School Board Elections!

Jenni Lefing, Membership Services Manager

As the school year starts winding down, now is the time to start thinking about next school year. Are you up for re-election? Have you decided on whether you are running again? The sooner you decide, the sooner you can help to find excellent school board candidates for your community! We often get asked whether school board members can be involved in school board elections, and if so how. The answer is YES! 

Here are some suggestions on what you and your board can do to support your local school board elections.



Building Social Emotional Skills at School:

Highlights from 3 Districts

Maressa Jensen, Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator

Strong relationships within schools and communities offer essential support for student success. Districts across the state are working with AASB’s Conditions for Learning team to promote relationships in which staff, students, and families can enhance social emotional competency, build strong cultural identity, and develop a sense of belonging. 

The impacts of this work are far-reaching. At a statewide workshop designed to explore ways to improve Alaska’s low rate of postsecondary completion, one of the group’s top recommendations was embedding culturally affirming social and emotional learning in our schools.



We want your input! 

AASB's annual Membership Survey is now open through June 1!  This short survey is for ALL board members, superintendents, and executive administrative assistants.

The Membership Survey results will be used to guide our work and make improvements to meet the needs of our membership!

AASB's Board of Directors and AASB staff rely heavily on feedback from this survey as we consider the development of new programs and services for members, and evaluate existing AASB services. All answers are confidential and will not be tied to you as an individual.


Survey takes about 5 minutes to complete

Join the Team!

AASB is now accepting applications for the following positions. Click on a title to see the full job description.

Policy and Superintendent Search Manager

As a member of the Board Development team, this position helps to support the implementation of AASB’s Long Range Plan. This individual will serve as the primary employee responsible for school district policy related work, and superintendent searches.

CFL Deputy Director

This position will work closely with the Conditions for Learning (CFL) Director and the CFL Manager to oversee and support our growing team at the Association of Alaska School Boards.

Grants Administrator

This position provides comprehensive financial oversight of AASB’s grant application, implementation, and accountability processes with the goal of maximizing external funding to support AASB’s mission and support for the Conditions for Learning (CFL) program. 

Southeast Alaska Full Service Community Schools Coordinator

This position is the lead project coordinator at the Association of Alaska School Boards for the Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grant funded by the US Department of Education.

Missed a Session?

Slides and videos of the 2023 First-term Board Members and Did You Know?

webinar series' are now available! Catch up on the sessions you may have missed!

Whether you’re just getting started on your board, or want to brush up on the basics, AASB’s First Term Board Member Webinar Series is for you! Browse the list of 2023 webinar topics with links to slideshows and videos. Note: Member password required to access videos.


In the “How do you know?” webinar series AASB’s Conditions for Learning team will walk you through easy-to-access data sources and approaches to understanding where you’re at with these types of initiatives and how to move forward for maximum impact.


On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

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Learn More About Alaska 529

Many thanks to Alaska 529 for their generous sponsorship of AASB 2022-23 events!


AASSP 2023 Principals of the Year

The Alaska Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP) sponsors annual regional and statewide Principal of The Year recognition awards to honor educational leaders who play a pivotal role in student success. Here are the 2023 honorees. Each AASSP 2023 Regional Principal of The Year will be awarded and recognized at the 57th Annual Alaska Principals' Conference, scheduled to be held in Anchorage October 13-14, 2023.

AASSP Regions 1-8

2023 Principals of the Year

More information at

Region 1

Principal of the Year

Dr. Charles TenBroeck III

Eben Hopson Middle School

North Slope Borough

Region 2

Principal of the Year

Eric Filardi

Anderson School

Denali Borough School District

Region 3

Principal of the Year

Sargeant Truesdell

Soldotna High School

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Region 4

Principal of the Year

David Nogg

Goldenview Middle School

Anchorage School District

Region 5

Principal of the Year

Sondra Lundvick

Sitka High School

Sitka School District

Region 6

Principal of the Year

Michelle Spillane

North Pole High School

Fairbanks North Star Borough

School District

Region 7

Principal of the Year

Chad Martin

Aleknagik School

Southwest Region School District

Region 8

Principal of the Year

Jennifer Schmidt-Hutchins

Fronteras Charter School

Mat-Su School District

NAESP 2023 Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) NDP Program was established in 1984 to recognize elementary and middle level principals who set high standards for instruction, student achievement, character and climate for the students, families, and staff in their learning communities. NAESP created the NOAP program in 2012 to honor assistant principals who make stellar contributions to their learning communities and to call attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal. Here are the 2023 honorees.

2023 NAESP National Principal & Assistant Principal of the Year

More information at:

National Distinguished Principal - 2023

Joshua Gill

Ayaprun Elitnaurvik School

Lower Kuskokwim School District

National Outstanding Assistant Principal - 2023

Elizabeth Kvamme 

K-Beach Elementary School

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District


The United States Supreme Court announces certain disability discrimination claims can bypass administrative hearings

“Fine Tuning” Episode 9 (Now with Practice Pointers!)

John Ptacin, Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC

On March 21, 2023, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools that a student with a disability does not have to exhaust Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) procedures before filing a lawsuit if they are seeking compensatory damages under separate laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Court’s decision in Perez departs from prior case law. Before this case, students and parents could not go directly to court for compensatory damages unless they submitted to the Alaska’s IDEA hearing process first.


“Order of Business” says when you can make a motion

Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian

It is a fundamental principle of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition (RONR) that main motions must be taken up at the proper time on the agenda. (A main motion proposes action by the body). This is necessary in order to preserve order, and the rights of members. To that end, RONR establishes a standard “Order of Business.” This describes the classes of business and when each will be considered. If you have adopted RONR, this is your Order of Business.


Are Boards allowed to administer an oath of office to someone via Zoom?

Answer: The quick answer is YES you can.  The important aspect is to follow the time frame outlined in your policy for this oath.

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



Computer Science State Plan

Open for Public Comments!

Computer science coursework is fundamental for student success in the jobs of tomorrow. Employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 14.6 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. When schools offer access to computer science courses to all students, they give a broader range of students access to college and career opportunities.

The Alaska Computer Science (CS) State Plan looks at the current state landscape of CS education, identifies the strategic areas of focus, sets realistic, challenging, and measurable goals to expand CS education to all the students in the state. This state plan is intended to be a working document and designed to respond to changes in the best practice in national K-12 CS education as well as the specific needs of Alaska students.

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) invites you to submit questions and comments on the draft Alaska Computer Science State Plan. To review this state plan and submit comments, please visit:

Comments will be accepted through Monday, May 1, 2023 at 5:00 PM.

Register Now for Schoolhouse's

SAT Bootcamps

Four–week long tutoring and study to help students prepare for the upcoming SAT. Sessions are twice a week (75 minutes per session). Students can select dates & times to fit their schedule.

The June SAT Bootcamp will run from May 5th to June 1st, in preparation for the June 3rd SAT. The bootcamps are free and have proven highly effective. Previous student participants have experienced a 50+ average score increase.

Registration Deadline: May 3rd


September 13-14, 2023

Egan Civic & Convention Center, Anchorage

Educational leaders, key staff, and strategic stakeholders, including representation from every district across the state, will convene to improve school safety and well-being in Alaska by both learning and sharing methods to:

  • Promote healthy development through trauma-engaged and restorative practices
  • Improve school climate
  • Be better prepared for any possible school crisis.

Each district will be provided a small travel grant to help bring in a team that may include administrators, teachers, school counselors, parents, community members, and school board members.


Alaska Reads Act

Implementation Webinars

Focus: District Reading Intervention

Now through May, DEED is hosting weekly hour-long webinars to take a deeper dive into the Alaska Reads Act.

The webinars will focus on each of the four programmatic parts of the Alaska Reads Act, as well teacher certification, data collections, and application to world and Alaska Language programs.

Webinars are scheduled for 3:15-4:15 PM

Schedule & Registration

DEED adds Trauma-Engaged CEU

to eLearning Program

DEED’s eLearning program now offers two Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to educators who hold current

five- or ten-year Alaska teaching, administrative, or special services certificates. Learners will earn one CEU per 15 hours of eligible coursework completed. All eLearning courses are free.

Course topics: trauma-sensitive schools, self–care for educators, stress and anxiety in schools, classroom practices and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

More Information



Anchorage – Anchorage’s Alaska Native Cultural Charter School will move into Abbott Loop Elementary space this fall – Morgan Krakow, ADN

Dillingham – School district waits on legislative solutions to budget woes – Riley Board, KDLL

Dillingham – Dillingham School District aims to hire amidst teacher, housing shortages – Christina McDermott, KDLG

Fairbanks – Borough Assembly to consider school district funding resolution while facing projected deficit – Jack Barnwell, News-Miner

Haines – Haines School District overcomes daunting teacher shortage – Brandon Wilks, KHNS

Juneau – City OKs $2.3M in additional ‘out-of-cap’ funding to school district – Clarise Larson, Juneau Empire

Kenai – School board sends KPBSD budget, with cuts, to borough assembly - Ashlyn O’Hara, Homer News

Ketchikan – Draft budget for Ketchikan’s school district has fewer staff, but no layoffs - Eric Stone, KRBD

Nome – Nome city government, school district seeing increased insurance costs – Greg Knight, KNOM

North Slope – Scientists show Utqiagvik’s eighth graders how to measure sea ice and see who lives inside it – Alena Naiden, Arctic Sounder

Petersburg - Petersburg School District Finance Director Karen Morrison resigns - Rachel Cassandra, KFSK

Sitka – Sitka School District proposes draining reserves to balance budget – Robert Woolsey, KCAW

More Alaska School District News


Opinion: Our politicians should listen to Alaskans on public school funding – Bob Shavelson, Homer News

Senate proposes one-time $680 increase to per-student funding paired with $1,300 PFD – Lex Treinen, Alaska Public Media

Alaska budget battles could pit the dividend against a school funding boost - Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News

Alaska Senate working to close budget gap with House on PFD, education funding – Joey Klecka, Alaska’s News Source

Bills would let school districts opt into state’s healthcare plan - Riley Board, KDLL

APU president says the school can help address Alaska’s outmigration woes – Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon

Parents behind ‘Bree’s Law’ blocked by Dunleavy administration from adapting Alaska’s teen dating violence classes for nationwide use – Sean Maguire, Anchorage Daily News

Five schools earn designation of Alaska Purple Star School – KINY Juneau

Yup’ik and Iñupiaq Statewide Spelling Bee for Beginners results – Delta Discovery, Village Telegraph

Keeping Alaska Native Languages Alive: Interview with Dr. X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell – Pranay Varada, Harvard Review

Alaska Native Heritage Center explores impact of early churches on Indigenous education – Rhonda McBride, KNBA

More State and Federal News

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.

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

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