Voices of Alaska Education
Newsletter of the Association of Alaska School Boards
Our Mission: To advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing
quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

Norm Wooten AASB Executive Director

Konrad Frank
Alaska ICE Community Engagement Educator
Heather Coulehan, Alaska ICE Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator
Legislative Overview
A brief primer on the main issues, key players, and education-related bills that are shaping the current legislative session.
Youth Advocacy Institute Helps Students Build Advocacy Skills, Policy Maker Relationships
Student participants said after YAI they felt more confident in how they can make an impact in Alaska.
Transforming Family Engagement into Thriving Family-School Partnerships
Students with involved families are more likely to earn better grades, attend school regularly and have higher graduation rates
Fly-In Highlights
Over 100 board members and students descended upon Juneau for AASB's annual Leadership Fly-In and Youth Advocacy Institute (YAI). For four days attendees heard presentations from legislative leaders, learned parliamentary procedure, toured the capital, met with legislators, and testified before House and Senate committees. Following are highlights and links to resources, presentations and photos of the event.

Parliamentarian Ann Macfarlane led board members through a lively, interactive day of learning and applying the core components of Robert's Rules of Order. She presided over a dinosaur-themed mock school board meeting in which attendees practiced using correct parliamentary procedures to successfully navigate a variety of challenging meeting scenarios.

Speaker Bryce Edgmon gave school board members a tour of the House chamber.
Students attending the Fly-In's Youth Advocacy Institute prepare questions for their meetings with legislators.

School board members and students attending the AASB Fly-In and YAI
testified to the House Education Committee on HB 339, the BSA increase.

Alaska Department of Education and Early Development Commissioner Michael Johnson discussed Alaska's Education Challenge and ESSA. View his presentation here.
Senator Gary Stevens (R) Kodiak gave his views on a state income tax, using the Permanent Fund to pay for government, teacher training and retention, and Bree's Law.
Fly-In Focus: Mastering Meetings with Roberts Rules
Presenter: Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, Jurassic Parliament 
Ann MacFarlane (center) at the AASB Fly-In with Lon Garrison and Timi Tullis
On the first evening of my exciting trip to Alaska this month, Lon Garrison and Timi Tullis treated me to dinner. We spent the entire evening in energetic discussion of Robert's Rules and meeting management. Lon's wife shook her head when he got home and said, "You should call yourselves the G2 Club-the Governance Geeks!" At the Jurassic Parliament workshop for the AASB Fly-In, we marked our name badges accordingly. If you are a governance geek too, you will love a fabulous new blog by Sarah Merkle, "The Law of Order."...
Ann MacFarlane has agreed to share her Robert's Rules of Order expertise each month in Commentary.
Her first Guest Column is featured below.  
Fly-In Focus: Dealing with Current and Future Realities of Alaska's Politics 
Presenter: Clive Thomas, Author of Alaska Politics and Public Policy 
Clive Thomas
Summary of Sunday Presentation   
Author Clive Thomas provided Fly-In attendees with his take on how Alaska's fiscal gap can be fixed, and the political, social and economic factors required to be successful. His presentation drew upon 35 years of experience teaching political science at the University of Alaska and from his book, Alaska Politics and Public Policy, which focuses on how beliefs, institutions, personalities, and power have shaped our state's political system and policies. 
4 Minute Read >
Fly-In Focus: State-Tribal Education Compacts: An Opportunity to Transform Education in Alaska 
Presenter: Representative Chuck Kopp (R) House District 24, Anchorage  
Rep. Chuck Kopp
Remarks from Sunday Presentation  
Yesterday I had a student from Point Lay ask me, "what are you doing to help our culture and traditions in my village school?" I said, "All I can, all I can." Nothing asked about money, math, science, teachers or sports. Just worried about his culture. The preservation of our indigenous cultures is as important as breathing; we need to understand that. 
6 Minute Read >
Fly-In Focus: A Brief Overview of House Majority Caucus Bills    
Presenter: Representative Harriet Drummond (D) House District 18, Anchorage 
Rep. Harriet Drummond
Remarks from Monday Presentation
I'm a proud member of the Alaska House Majority Coalition, which is the only caucus in the 30th Legislature to have approved a complete and sustainable fiscal plan. I am very disappointed that the Senate cannot see it the same way we do. We are committed to supporting the youngest Alaskans, so they are well-equipped to meet their future. To that end, members of our caucus are carrying the following bills: 
4 Minute Read >
Guest Columns
Tie Vote Fails 
By Ann Macfarlane, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, Jurassic Parliament  

Mastering meetings  
using Robert's Rules
What happens when a vote is tied? The fundamental principle is that a tie vote fails. In order for a motion to pass, a majority must vote in favor. "Majority" means "more than half" or "more than 50%." On a board of five members, if one member abstains due to conflict of interest, two members vote in favor, and two vote against, there are equal numbers in favor and against. This is not a majority. ... 
"Do I really have to allow a union representative to be present when I talk to a school district employee about a $2.00 lunch?"
By Clint Campion of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC 
Clint Campion
Part one of a five-part review of the common issues that arise between school districts and unions.
In this installment, we focus on the right to union representation for school employees during interviews that could lead to discipline with supervisors.
In general, employees have a statutory right to union representation during investigatory interviews. These rights are commonly known as Weingarten rights.
More from Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC:
Changing the Profession From Within   
By Karen Martin, Denali Borough School District teacher, Finalist 2018 Alaska Teacher of the Year  
Karen Martin
In this column, my colleagues, students and I will share the work of two different professional learning experiences that are examples of how to raise the profession of teaching and impact student learning. You'll hear the voices of my teaching colleagues in Denali Borough School District (DBSD) who have engaged in action research and video-study as part of professional learning. You'll also hear the voices of DBSD students who were asked to serve on a virtual panel to help rural teachers...
Tribal Compacting Education in Alaska    
By Joe Nelson, University of Alaska Southeast Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management, University of Alaska Southeast  
Joe Nelson
I had the good fortune of participating in a discussion about Tribal Compacting of Education with three icons in our communities at the Native Issues Forum hosted by the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians. Marlene Johnson of Hoonah, Willie Kasayalie of Akiachak and Ivan Ivan of Akiak have been championing Native Education for decades. We had just a few minutes to identify pros, cons, and or concerns. For the most part, I was just the scribe, attempting to absorb some of their wisdom. Here are a few highlights from our conversation: ... 
3 Minute Read >
Board Member Profile: Tam Agosti-Gisler 
Anchorage School District Board Member and Secondary Educator
Tam Agosti-Gisler
Each month Commentary will feature a different board member's story, as told in their own words. Many dedicated Alaskans from all walks of life have chosen to support their communities and youth by serving on a local school board. There is inspiration and fellowship in learning how a person's culture, life events, personal philosophies, influential teachers, or career choices have motivated them to serve. This month we profile Tam Agosti-Gisler from the Anchorage School District.  
What Does Alaska's Constitution Say About Education?
Alaskans are currently engaged in an essential and wide-ranging public discussion about how our state's public education system will operate in the future. As topics such as distance delivery, flexible scheduling, indigenous learning styles, career and technical training, and tribal compacting shape today's debate, it's worth taking a look back at some key moments in the history of Alaska's education system, within the context of the State Constitution.
State Board of Education and Early Development - Report to the Alaska State Legislature
Alaska State Statute 14.07.168 requires that "Not later than the 30 th legislative day of each regular session of the legislature, the [state] board shall prepare and present in person to the legislative committees having jurisdiction over education an annual report that describes the efforts of the board to develop, maintain, and continuously improve a comprehensive quality public education system, as provided for under the bylaws of the board."
First Alaskans Institute Recruiting for Summer Internship Program
Applications Due
March 2, 2018
First Alaskans Institute (FAI) announces our 2018 Summer Internship Program to place Alaska Native, American Indian and rural undergraduate and graduate students into organizations around Alaska to provide dynamic leadership development and employment experience. In order to apply, students must be high school graduates currently enrolled in a higher education institution, or recent graduates of a higher education institution.
Learn More >

Alaska House Approves Schools Budget - But Not a Way to Pay for It
By James Brooks, Juneau Empire 
House Majority members huddle during a break in the debate. Photo: Michael Penn
The Alaska House of Representatives has passed a bill to fund the state's public schools in the next fiscal year but has failed to allocate the money to pay for it. In a 20-16 vote, the House failed to reach the three-quarters supermajority needed to pull $1.2 billion from the state's Constitutional Budget Reserve for schools in the next fiscal year. House Bill 287, the bill allocating the money, passed 33-3. With that in mind, what can the bill do without money to spend? "Not much," said... 
3 Minute Read >
Mat-Su Borough School District Faces $7 Million Budget Deficit    
By K.T. McKee, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman 
The district is seeking a 2% borough-wide sales tax to help cover the anticipated deficit.
"A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore," quipped the late Yogi Berra. Although such clever quotes by Berra are usually good for a chuckle, no one is laughing about the $7 million budget deficit faced by the Mat-Su Borough School District and the continual "flat funding" offered by the local borough and state. This constant cash conundrum is, however, eliciting some creative solutions from district number crunchers that hadn't been explored before. ...
Anchorage School Board Approves Budget That Cuts Teacher Positions and Increases Some Class Sizes
The Anchorage School Board approved a preliminary budget for the 2018-19 school year that raises class sizes in grades 7 through 12 and cuts about 60 classroom teaching positions, nearly half of those due to shrinking enrollment. The district built the budget around the assumption that it would get the same level of state funding for next school year as it did for the current one. Alaska schools also received flat funding this school. ...  
3 Minute Read >
Hockey, Rifle, Cheerleading on Fairbanks School Board Chopping Block
High school hockey game between the Huskies and the Hawks. Photo: Eric Engman
The Fairbanks school board learned a few new details about next year's shrinking public education budget at a recent work session. Hockey, rifle and football cheerleading would be the first three after-school activities to lose financial support if $8.2 million in proposed cuts are approved. Too many needs. Not enough money. That was the crux of the discussion among the Fairbanks North Star School District Board. ... 
3 Minute Read >
Tribes Could Help State Fix School Systems
Liz Medicine Crow, President/CEO of First Alaskans Institute, speaks at the Native Issues Forum
Photo: Michael Penn
In January, the leaders of Alaska's education system rolled out a report on "Alaska's Education Challenge," the foundation for a fundamental reform of how public schools operate. In Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall, Juneau residents and others from across Southeast Alaska began examining what that reform should look like. In an hour-long Native Issues Forum hosted by the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, attendees tackled one aspect of the plan: how to get tribes and communities to own it. ... 
2 Minute Read >
Students Speak up on Guns, Bathrooms at School Board Meeting  
By Scott Gross, KTVA 
Students share their views at a recent Anchorage School Board meeting
Dozens of students from around the Anchorage School District used their voices at a recent school board meeting to share their views on controversial issues surrounding our nation. "We are more accepting of transgenders, races and whatever, it's the older generation that has the problem because they were just not raised the same way we were," said high school senior Dieuleveut Biringanine. "When it comes to gun control, it's really mixed emotions," he said. "Being in Alaska, it is a real controversial topic and kids are really strong on it because they are seeing kids their age dying. It's like, are we next?" ...  
2 Minute Read >
In Wake of Florida Massacre, Mat-Su School Board Discusses Safety
By K.T. McKee,  Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman  
Dr. Donna Dearman
Mat-Su Board President
As students in Florida and elsewhere rise up against assault weapons and politicians who call for arming teachers in the wake of the most recent school massacre, Mat-Su Borough School Board members, district staff, the teacher's union president, and one passionate parent expressed sentiments and solutions at Wednesday's school board meeting, which avoided both talk of gun control legislation and giving firearms to educators. ...
5 Minute Read >
Ketchikan Board President Trevor Shaw Named 'Top Forty Under 40'
Alaska Journal of Commerce 
Trevor Shaw
The Alaska Journal of Commerce has announced the members of our 2018 Top Forty Under 40. The 2018 class features the youngest person to win public office in all of America in 2013: Trevor Shaw of Ketchikan. Shaw, now 22 and the Administrative Manager and Director of Government Affairs for the Ward Cove Group, was a senior in high school when he was elected to the Ketchikan School Board and has since won another term. Shaw is also a member of the board of directors of the Association of Alaska School Boards.  
Opinion: School Board Recognition Month a Chance to Honor Contribution to Community, Schools  
By Dr. Annmarie O'Brien, Superintendent, NW Arctic Borough School District, for Arctic Sounder
It is time we recognized the untiring efforts and sacrifices routinely made by our school board members. It is easy to forget about the important role board members play in assuring local control of our school district, control that guarantees the education and well-being of our children is in the hands of people we know - people who are our neighbors. 
Eagle River History Teacher Surprised with $25,000 Award  
By Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media
Milken Education Award winner Valerie Baalerud (center) holds $25,000 check.
Photo: Wesley Early
Eagle River High School teacher Valerie Baalerud was sitting near her students in an assembly waiting to hear a talk from state Education Commissioner Michael Johnson. Then the topic of the Milken Educator Award came up. The prestigious award comes with a $25,000 check from the foundation. "I was totally shocked," Baalerud said. "I was talking with some students about who it might be. We were all sort of making our bets and then at least one of those students said, 'I think it could be you, Mrs. Ballerud.' ...
2 Minute Read >
Dillingham City School District Appoints Next Superintendent
By Avery Lill, KDLG
Jason Johnson will be the Dillingham City School District's next superintendent.
Photo: Avery Lill, KDLG
Jason Johnson is the Dillingham school board's pick for new superintendent, and he has agreed to a three-year contract with the Dillingham City School District. Johnson said Saturday after the board voted unanimously to offer him the position that he is "honored to be a new wolverine." While DCSD's search considered educators from around the nation, all three finalists are currently working in Alaska. In addition to Johnson, those finalists were David Macri, lead principal at Tuluksak School in the Yupiit School District, and Glen Szymoniak, interim superintendent at DCSD. ...
2 Minute Read >
Superintendent Vacancies & District Openings
Wrangell Superintendent

The five-member Board of Education of the Wrangell Public Schools is conducting a search for a Superintendent. The board is especially interested in applicants with a strong background in curriculum mapping, alignment, and strong collaborative team building skills. Candidates with successful experience in working with small, rural communities are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Closing date for all application materials: March 23, 2018
  • Candidate interviews in the district: Week of April  9th, 2018.
  • The new superintendent begins work: July 1, 2018.
More Information: 

The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is conducting the search.
Send Application Materials To:
Association of Alaska School Boards
1111 W. 9th St.,
Juneau, Alaska 99801
Phone: (907) 463-1660
Email: Ryan Aguilar

Looking for a New Superintendent?
The Association of Alaska School Boards has been conducting superintendent searches for over 20 years.
Learn about our Search Services >

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