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.
  • AASB 68th Annual Conference Starts Next Week!
  • June Nelson Scholarship Auction Items Still Needed!
  • SCCS Registration Now Open!
  • 2021 MacKinnon Award
  • Highlighting Strategic Plans: Dillingham City District
  • Clint Campion - A Free AND Ordered Space
  • Ann Macfarlane - Jurassic Parliament
  • Ask AASB
  • STEPS Spotlight
  • Bulletin Board
  • Federal, State, & District News
AASB Supports All Stakeholders to Civilly Participate in Local School Governance
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

The Association of Alaska School Boards strongly believes and affirms its support of school governance that is controlled locally and open and responsive to its stakeholders, including parents, students, staff, community members and organizations, tribes, other governmental organizations, to name a few. AASB also fundamentally believes that a civil, respectful decorum is necessary for good governance to flourish and affect positive outcomes for the students.

AASB’s Mission
“The mission of the Association of Alaska School Boards is to advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

Over this past year, school boards and school staff have worked tirelessly to deal with the consequences of an unprecedented pandemic. The challenges and stresses on the Alaska public education system have been significant and different for each school district, community, family, staff, and student. There has not been one correct answer for everyone, and there likely won’t be.

AASB supports and encourages civil and respectful local engagement between stakeholders and school boards to address the unique challenges we each face.
The purpose of public schools is to meet the educational needs of its young people.
It is impossible to meet those needs without parental and community engagement. Alaska’s school boards welcome that engagement and have always received it with appreciation, respect, and civility. We work in partnership with our communities.

Threats or intimidation, whether at a school board meeting, school function, in a public place, or at someone’s home, is absolutely unacceptable. Such behavior does not create or encourage effective communication that may enable positive solutions focused on supporting our students.

Back in Person: AASB’s Annual Conference!
Jenni Lefing, School Climate and Conference Coordinator

We are looking forward to holding our first in-person Annual Conference since 2019 next week, November 4-7, at Anchorage Hilton. Over 40 districts have registered to attend the largest annual gathering of school board members in the state. This year’s conference theme is Moving Forward, Ensuring Equity, and all sessions will be integrating this theme.

Our members told us that they were ready to meet back in person. So, in an effort to balance safety (following recommendations from CDC and local health professionals), and a desire to gather and learn from each other in person, we've put together a COVID mitigation plan for all attendees and presenters that includes the following entry requirements: 
  • Proof of a COVID vaccination (presentation of your actual vaccination card or a legible photo) or:
  • Proof of a negative COVID test (PCR) within three (3) days of the start of the AASB event or: 
  • A health care provider’s documentation that you have had COVID within the last 90-days and are free from symptoms, including no fever within 24 hours of fever-reducing medications, has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, and are not contagious for the virus but may test positive.

In addition, each person that registers agrees to abide by the AASB COVID-19 mitigation plan that will be enforced to assure everyone’s safety. This will include staying fully-masked, except when eating or drinking, and re-framing registration, seating, and catering to provide the least risk possible. 

For those not ready or unable to attend in-person, we are also offering a virtual attendance option. This option includes Friday and Saturday General Sessions, Four Live Breakout Sessions & Sunday Delegate Assembly. 

It’s not to late to join us at Annual Conference! There's still time to register for both in-person and virtual attendance options. You can Register Here.
Youth Leaders will Connect Across the State in December 2021
Claudia Plesa, Community Engagement Manager

This year the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) will take place virtually Dec. 3-5th. Additionally, board members are invited to attend a youth panel on Dec. 11th, where we will also launch a digital story created with our students.

This year, YLI is focused on creating opportunities for students to build leadership skills, develop their personal leadership style, and learn how to advocate for themselves and their peers. We will focus on strengthening youth resilience and self-care skills through storytelling workshops and connection with peers across the state.

In addition to presentations from AASB staff, YLI also includes Alaskan storytellers and speakers who provide inspiration, tools, and opportunities for youth to practice using their voices to impact Alaskan education and schools. This year’s speakers include Liz Sunnyboy, Earl ‘Keggulluk’ Polk, and the Alaska Teen Media Institute.

Below is an overview of our time together:
  • Dec. 3: Build peer connection and share our community strengths. Virtual community scavenger hunt and connecting activities with peer leaders across the state 
  • Dec. 4: Provide students inspiration and build digital stories and messages together. Storytelling sessions and youth development of digital stories. 
  • Dec. 5: Preparing messages for our boards. Youth prepare for panel discussion with school board members.

Five Years in Review: CRESEL Program Reflections and Next Steps
Heather Coulehan, Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator

For five years the Culturally Responsive Embedded Social and Emotional Learning (CRESEL) pilot, a partnership between the Association of Alaska School Boards and Bering Strait, Hydaburg, Kodiak, Lower Yukon, Nome, Sitka, and Yukon Kuskokwim school districts, has helped to build the capacity of school districts to embed social and emotional and learning. As explained by district staff, “The goal was to allow schools to focus on the well-being of students through social-emotional skills and activities using the local community or cultural practices and values.”

The Transforming Schools Milestone Guides and a Video Library are tools to deepen understanding, reflection, and move knowledge into school-based practices. The Association of Alaska School Boards, the State of Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and the Alaska Afterschool Network have developed milestone guides to help school staff understand specific knowledge, practice, and structural changes they can make to improve their trauma engaged schools implementation.

This year’s Annual Conference will include two General sessions, over 15 breakout sessions, Roundtables, Snapshot sessions, networking opportunities, June Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser, Delegate Assembly, and more!
Virtual Attendance
Option Available!
Friday General Session Keynote
Heather Lende
Alaska State Writer Laureate
and bestselling author
Heather Lende is the Alaska State Writer Laureate and the author of four bestselling memoirs from Algonquin Books. Her many essays and stories, mostly about life and sometimes death, have been distributed widely.
Saturday General Session Keynote
Nikkie Whaley
Equity Services Manager
Arizona School Boards Association

Nikkie Whaley is a Board Support and Equity Services Manager with the Arizona School Boards Association. She serves as a resource and thought leader in the area of equity, supporting all staff in the progression of the association’s equity initiatives.
There's still time to donate auction items!
Unique items from your district
help make the auction a success!

The June Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser is an annual AASB tradition. Proceeds from the auction are used fund scholarships that students can apply to their post-secondary education.

This year's auction will be held Friday, November 5th at 5:30 pm at the Anchorage Hilton's Alaska Ballroom.

Join us in supporting Alaska's students!
To donate auction items please fill out the online form.
AASB greatly appreciates the generous support of these organizations and businesses to help make the 2021 AASB Annual Conference a success.

Supporting AASB through sponsorship provides expanded statewide professional development opportunities for school governance leaders who work on behalf of Alaska’s students.

In rural Alaska, connectivity services are the lifeblood of schools. Now more than ever, hybrid learning, computerized testing, and online technologies are critical to the classroom experience and protecting students and educators during the current health crisis.

Join us
Wednesday, November 10, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
for a live ‘Ask Me Anything’ webinar

Ask your questions about how GCI provides rural support for education customers.

The discussion will feature:
  • Jerome (JD) Schultz, GCI Senior Director, Facilities & Rural Network
  • Kevin Fradley, GCI Education Support Lead
  • Moderator: Annette (AJ) Jones, GCI VP of Government, Healthcare and Education
This is a discussion you won’t want to miss!

Stay tuned for upcoming GCI webinars on December 8th and January 19th.
Leonardo DRS provides innovative information and communication technology solutions and service to Alaskan schools, healthcare, communities, and businesses

Vickie Kelly, Business Development Manager Alaska, DRS Global Enterprise Solutions
For eighteen years, Leonardo DRS has consistently delivered cost-efficient, reliable, and scalable information and communication technology solutions throughout Alaska’s remote and challenging environments.
The company primarily provides schools and health clinics with broadband services and optimized network applications such as video teleconferencing. It also offers high-quality enterprise solutions, including managed services, technology support, cybersecurity, and 24x7x365 network operations.Leonardo DRS operates and maintains resilient fiber optic, microwave, and satellite networks, including a 600-mile microwave network from Fairbanks to Allakaket.

“We have served over 125 remote Alaska installations, from the Arctic Circle to the Southeast to the Aleutian Chain,” says Vickie Kelly, Business Development Manager, Alaska. “We span the whole state.” Leonardo DRS is a leading technology innovator and supplier of integrated products, services and support to military forces, intelligence agencies and defense contractors worldwide. The multi-billion-dollar, Arlington, Va.-based contractor facilitates mission-critical, classified programs, providing extremely secure communications, information assurance and network security. “We bring that experience, depth of knowledge, and support into what we do in Alaska,” Kelly says.

School Safety Tools, including Anonymous Reporting and Crisis Text Line, available to Alaska districts at NO COST

Richelle Stanz, Senior Account Manager, Partnerships, STOPit Solutions
School safety has never been more important. As students and staff continue to adjust learning and living amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, school safety is a top priority.

Often, we focus on the physical, and not the mental, aspects of safe learning environments. With student and staff mental health being significantly impacted by the pandemic, administrators can provide simple, easy-to-use safety tools that mitigate crisis and help individuals receive support.
SERRC is partnering with STOPit Solutions, one of the nation’s leading experts in school safety, to bring its Anonymous Reporting System (ARS) - inclusive of a mobile reporting app, Incident Response Center (IRC), Crisis Text Line, and SEL & Compliance Training Center - to 65,000 students across Alaska for three years at no cost

STOPit’s ARS and Incident Response Center, managed by trained agents in psychological first aid, suicide prevention, and youth mental health first aid, have helped save and change the lives of thousands.

Our Interconnectedness Is Our Best Asset to End Child Abuse and Neglect

Trevor Storrs, President and CEO
Alaska Children's Trust (ACT)
Alaska is a beautifully unique state, with places and people unlike any other. Unfortunately, it is also a state with pervasive problems unlike any other. From its high rates of domestic violence, substance abuse, and suicide to its low graduation rates, Alaska ranks near the bottom on most national indicators of health and well-being. Alaska’s incredibly high rates of child abuse and neglect are especially alarming. Our children are our future, so their flourishing should be our top priority, but every year, thousands of Alaskan children are abused and neglected.
Fortunately, the Alaska Children’s Trust knows that despite our unique challenges, our state is also uniquely poised to put an end to child abuse and neglect. Alaska is large, but our communities are tight knit. Our interconnectedness is our best asset; as a collective, we can provide the resources, knowledge, and skills to support Alaskan children and families. At Alaska Children’s Trust, we believe that, while they sometimes make bad decisions, most parents ultimately want their children to thrive. By offering the support, resources, and social connections parents need, our Alaskan communities can help ensure this outcome. 

Microcom has Led the Way in Satellite Communications for Over 30 Years

Mark Roetto, Director of Business Development
Through Microcom's satellite services, Rural Alaskans will now be able to enjoy school connectivity at 1Mbps per student at a fraction of current costs. Our services empower digital economies, tele-health services, online banking, as well as remote employment throughout Alaska.

Expanded internet connectivity will allow corporations, tribes, and villages better ability to communicate with their shareholders and provide employment opportunities.
Our satellite services will also provide redundant connectivity to areas where there is only one provider, therefore increasing reliability for critical communications.

Additional benefits will also come by using LEO and GEO services in tandem as a hybrid service. By combining Aurora high-throughput geostationary service with OneWeb low-earth-orbit service we will enable a hybrid broadband offering in 2022. New low-earth-orbit and geostationary satellite services will bring much needed broadband service to Alaska. However, the biggest impact and lowest cost service will come from combining these two new services together in a hybrid offering.

COVID-19 Safety Requirements for Attending Annual Conference
In an effort to balance safety and the desire to gather and learn from each other in person, attending the 2021 AASB Annual Conference requires one of the following three items:
  • Proof of a COVID vaccination (presentation of your actual vaccination card or a legible photo) or:
  • Proof of a negative COVID test (PCR) within three (3) days of the start of the AASB event or:
  • A health care provider’s documentation that you have had COVID within the last 90-days and are free from symptoms, including no fever within 24 hours of fever-reducing medications, has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared, and are not contagious for the virus but may test positive.

If you cannot produce the proof listed above, you will not be admitted until the documentation is provided to AASB staff.

In addition, by registering with AASB to attend the 2021 Annual Conference, each person agrees to abide by the AASB COVID-19 mitigation plan that will be implemented to assure everyone’s safety. This will include staying fully-masked, except when eating or drinking. Registration, seating, and catering will be designed to provide the least risk possible. A COVID-19 mitigation plan will be available here and also on the AASB website.

AASB continues to closely monitor the current COVID situation, and will promptly communicate any changes or share new information leading up to the Annual Conference. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at aasb@aasb.org
2022 School Climate & Connectedness Survey (SCCS) Registration Open!
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.
SCCS is a research-backed survey that collects valid and reliable perception data to better understand and build a positive school climate in your school district.

This year districts choose a five-week window between January 17- March 26 for students and staff to take the survey.

SCCS’s interactive survey platform through Panorama Education makes survey administration, reporting, and analysis interactive and user-friendly. Participating districts also receive:
  • Free webinars and ongoing training support to oversee survey administration, and how to use the interactive platform.
  • Support on how to use survey results that includes on-site workshops or virtual conferences led by AASB staff.
For more information, please reach out to Jenni Lefing.
Trauma Engaged Practices

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development in conjunction with the Association of Alaska School Boards and partners across the state have developed rich resources for schools responding their students’ exposure to adversity.
There will be five sessions in this track.
1. Oct 19 - The first session will cover an introduction to the Framework, accompanying toolkit, and eLearning courses.
2. Nov 2-"NEW" Trauma Engaged Milestones Guide, Transforming Schools "Knowing to Doing" Video Library
3. Nov 16-"Calm and Connected :Navigating to Wellness Using the Polyvagal Ladder"
4. Nov 30- Transforming Schools; Place Based Style
5. Dec 14- Compassion Resilience
Dates & Times

Session 2 - Nov 2, 2021 03:30 PM
Session 3 - Nov 16, 2021 03:30 PM
Session 4 - Nov 30, 2021 03:30 PM
Session 5 - Dec 14, 2021 03:30 PM
Register for the Webinar Series
2021 MacKinnon Award
LKSD Board President Clarence Daniel Receives
2021 MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award
Lower Kuskokwim School District School (LKSD) Board Member, was awarded the 2022 Don MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award by the Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA). Daniel was presented the award during the ASA fall conference in Anchorage. 

Daniel has served on the LKSD regional school board since 2013 and has held the positions of secretary, treasurer, vice president and president. His dedication to education in the district dates to 1988, when he served as a student representative on the board. 
LKSD Superintendent Kimberly Hankins and 2021 Don MacKinnon Excellence in Education Award recipient Clarence Daniel
Daniels is completing his sixth year as a member of the AASB Board of Directors, and has held AASB's position on the ASAA board for three years. He has been an NSBA presenter, National Indigenous Language Coalition member, Ayaprun Elitnaurvik Charter school APC member for 17 years and chair for 12 years, statewide Pre-K committee member, Bethel Advisory School board member for 7 years.

His other public service and cultural activities include working with Food Bank of Alaska to distribute food donations to villages in his region-, Alaska Representative to the National Tribal Transportation Program Coordinating Committee from 2015 to present, Intertribal Transportation Association Alaska Representative for three years, Alaska Bible Seminary Board of Trustees for 10 years, City of Bethel parks and recreation committee for 2 years, and Tuntutuliak Traditional Council member for two years

LKSD Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said, “Clarence wants to see LKSD students be prepared for whatever they choose to do in their future.” To promote this vision Daniel has supported collegial and post-secondary education functions and helped establish the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) Acceleration Academy.

Daniel believes Yugtun programs in LKSD should have measurable standards on par with English standards and has been a strong advocate of the district's mission to develop bilingual and biliterate programs for students. Daniel also is a member of the National Indigenous Language coalition and has worked with Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office to review and propose language for the Indigenous Language bill.
MacKinnon Award Namesake Passes Away
The MacKinnon Educational Excellence and Human Recognition Award was established in 1985 by the Alaska Association of School Administrators to recognize Don MacKinnon's service to education in Alaska and honor his work to forge professional relationships on behalf of Alaska’s young people,

The award is presented each year to Alaska school board members who have provided meritorious service to their school districts and communities.

Don MacKinnon was born in Juneau on February 12, 1933 and grew up in various Southeast communities. He attended grade school in Wrangell, and graduated from Juneau Douglas High School in 1951.

In the mid-1970s Don was hired as Superintendent of schools in Cordova where he worked for two years before returning to Juneau in 1976 to accept a position at the Department of Education assisting rural districts establish and develop their schools.
Don MacKinnon
1933 - 2021
After three years with the state, Don accepted the job of Superintendent of the Juneau School District. He retired from the district in 1982 and became the first executive director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators, where he was instrumental in forming alliances between administrators, school and community organizations.

On September 3, 2021, Don MacKinnon passed away at the age of 88.

Former Colleagues Remember Don MacKinnon
Following are remembrances of Don MacKinnon's contributions to Alaska education by two of his professional colleagues: Sharon Young, former Associate Executive Director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, and Marshall Lind, former Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.
"A mentor and a trusted friend"
Sharon Young, former Associate Executive Director of the Association of Alaska School Boards
When the REAAs were formed in 1976, the Department of Education assigned experienced educators to help the brand new school boards get organized, hire staff and form policies. My district, Alaska Gateway, was fortunate to be assigned to Don MacKinnon.
I was president of the board at that time, very young with no experience on boards. Don was a perfect fit for us…a calm, experienced voice who coached us in the “right way” to do things, but allowed us to make our own decisions. He respected the role of school boards and helped us understand what good local control could mean.

In 1984 I moved to Juneau to go to work for AASB. Don had recently become the first executive director for the Alaska Council of School Administrators and shared office space with AASB. I was delighted to work in such close proximity to this man for whom I had such respect.

"Direct, no-nonsense, and truly an advocate for the rural school districts"
Marshall Lind, former Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
I have had the opportunity over the years to work with and get to know personally some really good people. And as I reflect on those relationships, I find that there are some who truly stand out as special— individuals who have been helpful to me and have made a lasting positive impression on me.
I have asked my self why? How did they do that? Was it the humility, kindness, honesty, sincerity, competence, patience, respect of their peers, because they were hard workers, had leadership skills, or just plain fun to be around? Don epitomized all these qualities and probably many more that I didn’t highlight here.

I met Don over 50 years ago when he was Superintendent at Hoonah and I was Commissioner of Education. Don had earned a positive reputation as an effective administrator for his hard work, honesty and for understanding and respecting the local culture and life style of the people he served. He knew how to work with the school board and it was obvious there was strong mutual respect—especially between he and long- time school board president and local leader, Marlene Johnson.

This Month's Plan: Dillingham City School District

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

This month's featured plan is from Dillingham City School District. Icon graphics and simple, sparse design emphasize the district's goals and strategies in an easy-to-read format.

Click on images to view larger size.
A Free AND Ordered Space: Do School Board Meetings Pose a Clear and Present Danger?
Part 3 of the series
Clint Campion of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Does a reported spike in harassment, threats, and intimidation of school board members constitute a clear and present danger to our society requiring the involvement of the FBI? The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) thinks so.
Clint Campion
This issue – federal law enforcement scrutiny of local school board meetings – qualifies for this year’s theme – A Free and Ordered Space.

When should the clerk speak up?
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
The clerk of a local government meeting or the secretary on a nonprofit board has a high calling.
Under Robert’s Rules, two persons must be present for a valid meeting: the chair and the secretary. They cannot be the same person, and state law often specifies this as well.

The clerk or secretary keeps the record of the meeting, the minutes, which in case of dispute can become critical to resolving conflict and moving ahead. In a lawsuit, the minutes of a meeting provide evidence of what the body decided.

Q: What does censuring a board member mean?
A: Though AASB does not have a specific policy regarding censure in our model manual, it is mentioned in the policy 9011 as an option for boards should they feel the need to do so.
Boards that abide by Robert's Rules of Order can use "censure" at any time to call out inappropriate board member behavior if the Board votes to do so. In essence, it is a form of public humiliation. It is designed to separate and identify the board members' actions or words as not in alignment with the board's policies or modes of decorum.

Read more answers to frequently asked questions at Ask AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Tiffany Jackson.
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.
Youth Insights from the STEPS School Climate Survey
While there is a lot to be said about direct student engagement, the School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) can be another great way to understand youth perspectives.
Because the survey is confidential, comprehensive, and reaches a wide cross-section of youth in our communities, it offers insight into areas that may be harder to capture directly from students.

What are students saying about their experiences in and outside of school?

STEPS youth generally feel more positively about school climate compared to the rest of the state. Take a look at the publicly available STEPS SCCS Results Page!

Culture, Connection, and Created Space: AWARE's Programs Help Bolster
Youth Leadership

Young leaders are best able to step into their leadership roles when we create an environment that accepts, supports, and connects them. AWARE's programs over the last year have brought students together to elevate their voice and create spaces for students and adults to reflect on the environment they are creating for each student. 

AWARE has been supporting students to develop a youth messaging campaign focused on the key message to students that they belong (example above). These messages are embedded and echoed by AWARE’s teen support group, honoring resiliency group, and BIPOC teen talk group, giving students both consistent messaging and peer to peer support.

Whether working with students or deepening your work around culturally sustaining content and anti-racism, find more at awareak.org or by reaching out to AWARE at info@awareak.org.
Youth Development work is Post-Secondary Preparation

When we foster youth leadership and help tweens and teens explore dimensions of their identity, we are also helping them prepare for life after high school. Students that can know who they are and can actualize their goals are more likely to follow their pursuits. 

Heading off to college or starting on a career path doesn’t just start with filling out an application. Harvard Professor Mandy Savitz-Romer writes that the process starts with envisioning our future selves and believing it is possible. Youth leadership opportunities and activities that help youth explore - and reconcile - aspects of their identity are critical steps to helping students prepare for their postsecondary journey.

How well is your community doing when it comes to helping students explore their cultural identity and navigate the postsecondary preparation process? Find out by taking a simple assessment created by Mt. Edgecumbe Superintendent Janelle Vanasse at www.RethinkingReadiness.com.
To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
Playing is learning.
When a child laughs, talks, and splashes with you they are also building the learning muscles that will help them later in life.

#playmatters #rainorshinelearningallthetime

Students in Peter Williams’ Term 1 course, Relationship with Place: Alaska Natives, Sea Otters, & Ecology, fish for Coho salmon at Redoubt Lake
Now Accepting Student Applications
for Spring Semester 2022

The Applications Committee is now accepting student applications for the Spring Semester 2022. If you are a high school graduate looking for a meaningful postsecondary opportunity here in Sitka, we’d love to hear from you.

Ready to apply? You can find the application by clicking the button below.
Applications are due by 11:59 pm AKDT on October 31, 2021
Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Alaska is expecting COVID-19 vaccines for a wider group of kids in the coming weeks
Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media
Federal regulators could approve the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 5-11 in a few weeks. And the Biden Administration announced Wednesday it will have enough shots for every eligible child in the country.

Meanwhile, the state of Alaska is working on a plan to make sure kids can get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Eloise LaCour, 3, gets her COVID-19 vaccination as part of Phase 1 clinical trials on use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in children 5 and younger. Federal regulators could approve the Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 in a few weeks.
Photo: Stanford Medicine
Alaska has a teacher retention problem. The state is ready to pay someone to help solve it.
Claire Stremple, KTOO, Juneau
The state’s education department calls the lack of teachers in Alaska an emergency issue and says the pandemic is only making things worse. It’s willing to pay up to $300,000 to figure out how to attract — and keep — more teachers in the state.
Teachers and the union support the move, but they say the number one reason they’re leaving is pretty obvious.
Second grade teacher Jenna Nadine works in her empty classroom on the first day of school at Mikelnguut Elitnaurviat. Photo: Katie Basile.
James Harris is Alaska’s 2017 Teacher of the Year, but he doesn’t live or teach in Alaska anymore. He took his skills and his family to Washington state a few years ago. There were a lot of reasons, he said, but the big one is retirement. “Unfortunately, the retirement system in Alaska, it was set up in a way that there was just absolutely no way for me to retire with any kind of dignity,” he said.

Up to $300,000 in environmental education grants are available for local projects in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that up to $3 million in funding for local environmental education grants is now available under the 2021 Environmental Education Local Grant Program. EPA will award grants in each of EPA’s 10 Regions, for no less than $50,000 and no more than $100,000 each, for a total of 30-40 grants nationwide. The total estimated funding in EPA's Region 10, which covers Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, is up to $300,000.

“Tackling the climate crisis and delivering on our health and environmental protection mission requires engaged and informed local partners," said Administrator Michael S. Regan. “When we equip communities with the right tools to raise awareness and advance environmental education, it benefits everybody. That’s why I encourage our local partners across the country to apply for the 2021 Environmental Education Local Grants Program.”

Alaska SeaLife Center to Alaskans:
We’re still here for you
Peninsula Clarion
Long before the pandemic, we Alaskans had finely honed our skills at coming together for our communities when times get tough. At the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, we experienced this aptitude in action one year ago. As Alaskans watched local businesses shutter and came to grips with a new concept of “normal,” you managed to come together in a big way for the Center.

Facing the loss of key visitor-based revenue streams, we announced last July we were on the verge of closing our doors. In response, you showed us that losing the Alaska SeaLife Center was not just another loss you’d allow during the pandemic. So you rallied and kept us alive. Today, we’re writing to say thank you.

Steller Sea Lions can be seen in an enclosure at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, Alaska.
Photo: Erin Thompson
A TikTok trend inspired students to steal toilets. Now they’re slapping teachers.
Julian Mark, Washington Post/Anchorage Daily News
For much of September, the “devious licks” TikTok challenge drove young people to rip soap dispensers off bathroom walls, steal random classroom items and even remove entire toilets from their stalls. Some students have been criminally charged for partaking in the challenge, and TikTok has attempted to scrub videos and hashtags associated with the trend from its platform.
But now, officials say they’re concerned about another trend - “slap a teacher” - after an elementary student in Lancaster County, S.C., struck a teacher’s head from behind, according to the school district. “This type of behavior just like theft and destruction of property is not a prank,” a district official said on Friday. “It’s criminal behavior.”

Please Note - Some news outlets may require registration or a paid subscription for link access. Others may grant free access to a limited number of articles before requiring a paid subscription.
Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School District and thousands of its teachers and support staff are at odds over contract negotiations that have dragged on since the last school year. More than 3,000 teachers and others represented by the Anchorage Education Association, and about 1,300 educational support staff represented by TOTEM Association of Educational Support Personnel, have been working under three-year contracts that expired in June.
Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage schools this year are seeing a significant uptick in behavioral issues, including physical altercations and emotional outbursts, said Superintendent Deena Bishop.
Students this year have faced additional stress returning to classes and disrupting routines formed during the last year of distance learning, Bishop said. And some of the tension throughout the school district may also reflect a larger sense of division throughout the community, she said.
Anchorage Daily News

A student was arrested Friday afternoon after threatening on social media to “shoot up” West High, the Anchorage Police Department said in an alert. A school resource officer assigned to the school responded after a staff member reported the threat, police said. The school went into “stay put” mode while the threat was investigated, and within minutes it was determined the school was in no danger, Gustafson said.
Corinne Smith, KHNS, Haines

Klukwan families and community members are urging the Chatham School District to address the causes of its low enrollment ahead of a possible November vote on whether to close the school. They talked with board representatives at an emotional community meeting last week via Zoom. Recommendations for saving the school included hiring a permanent head teacher, repairing the school bus and creating stability for the school community to draw students and families back.
Tyler Thompson, KDLG Dillingham

The grant, “Innovative Approaches to Literacy” will be spread out over five years and used to fund a project that the district calls “LINKED.” That stands for Literacy Innovation for Neighborhood Kids’ Education Development. Superintendent Jason Johnson laid out several goals and activities in emails to KDLG that included a PowerPoint for the project.
KTVF, Fairbanks

After deliberations during a special school board meeting, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has announced the appointment of Karen Melin as interim superintendent for the 2021-22 school year. Melin is currently the Deputy Commissioner for Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and previously worked for FNSBSD as a District Mentor, Intervention Specialist, and Assessment Coordinator.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

As the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District deals with a shortage of bus drivers impacting thousands of students, multiple options are being explored, including premium pay for drivers...
Corinne Smith, KHNS, Haines

Haines school district will keep its COVID policies in place. That was the consensus reached by the school board as the community comes out of another wave of coronavirus cases. COVID-19 cases surged in Haines last month reaching as high as 43 active cases in a town of about 2,000 people. There were at least four cases on campus and dozens of close contacts have had to quarantine since the start of school. Masks are required on campus, and the school provides rapid asymptomatic COVID testing for students, staff and some families that homeschool their kids.
Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO, Juneau

Getting sworn into office is a little trickier during a hybrid meeting that’s happening in person and virtually, but Juneau Superior Court Judge Amy Mead made it work for the newly elected and re-elected members of the Juneau Board of Education. Mead swore in new members Will Muldoon and Amber Frommherz, and Elizabeth Siddon, who was re-elected to her second term and will continue to be the board president.
Bridget Dowd, KTOO, Juneau

The Juneau Board of Education adopted a land acknowledgment during a recent meeting. It will be used during all future meetings of that board. The acknowledgment is intended to express appreciation and celebrate the context of the indigenous presence and history in the community.
Ketchikan Daily News

The Ketchikan School District will return to operating at the high risk level of its Start Strong COVID-19 mitigation plan through Saturday after one week spent at the substantial risk level.
There were a total of 104 active cases in Ketchikan on Friday, measuring above the 50-case threshold that would keep the district at the substantial risk level, according to the Start Strong mitigation plan guidelines.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

The amount of money needed to pay for maintenance projects in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is more than three times what it cost to run the district last school year. Excluding the amount of money the district spent on salaries and benefits for staff, it was about 12 times more. The cost of inaction is not insignificant. About $420 million worth of maintenance is needed at Kenai Peninsula Borough School District buildings, but Director of Planning and Operations Kevin Lyon will settle for focusing people’s attention on the roughly $166 million worth of “critical” needs.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Peninsula Clarion

Elizabeth Hayes spent some of her Thursday night explaining to a sparsely populated room at Soldotna High School how she builds the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s multi-million-dollar budget. Hayes is the school district’s finance director, and Thursday’s budget meeting was the first of three public forums she’ll host in a tour around the Kenai Peninsula ahead of KPBSD’s next budget cycle. Her 30-minute presentation at SoHi served as an all-in-one guide on how the school district’s budget is crafted, starting, Hayes said, with staff.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Peninsula Clarion

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is giving staff 10 extra days of emergency leave in response to COVID-19. That’s according to a memorandum of agreement between the district and the district’s teaching and support staff unions that members of the KPBSD Board of Education approved during their Monday night meeting. The leave would not require staff to use personal sick days, sick bank days or leave without pay. The policy will also be retroactive back to July 1, 2021, meaning staff can pull from their 10 new days to make up for leave taken already this school year due to COVID. It applies to teaching and certified staff and to district support staff, regardless of whether they are members of the unions that represent district workers.
Greg Kim, KYUK, Bethel

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are soaring to near all-time highs due to the more infectious and dangerous delta variant. Despite that, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation says that children should keep attending school in person. “Studies have shown that when you take students out of school it has the opposite effect: they are exposed to more virus in the community, and they are more likely to get COVID,” YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges said during YKHC’s COVID-19 virtual town hall. Hodges said that’s because schools have mitigation measures that protect against the spread of the virus.
Olivia Ebertz, KYUK, Bethel

Bethel City Council unanimously voted to create a new school police officer position within the Bethel Police Department using more than $100,000. The city created the school officer position so it can apply for a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant will help the city fund its police department. The officer will be stationed at Bethel Regional High School. The position will be funded in part by the COPS grant and by the Lower Kuskokwim School District.
Julia Lerner, The Nome Nugget

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Nome, Norton Sound and the Bering Strait region. The Nome Public School District implemented precautions and moved the school district’s sports classification to Red on Monday. “No sports travel is permitted while in RED, mask wearing is required of all students in high-risk sports, and unvaccinated students must test weekly,” according to an announcement from the school district. “We will monitor the situation closely and adjust as needed.” Currently, about 30 percent of all positive cases in Nome are in children still too young to receive their vaccines.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB, Unalaska

Unalaska students still must wear masks at school, even while the city is operating at its low COVID-19 risk level and only encouraging masking indoors. The Unalaska school board decided that the district will drop to its low transmission level and students can stop wearing masks in school buildings when the city’s COVID-19 case count drops to zero and the Emergency Operations Center advises the change. Unalaska had four active, community-acquired COVID-19 cases by Wednesday.
Tess Williams, Anchorage Daily News

A Southwest Alaska teacher is accused of sexually abusing one of his students, according to charges. Troopers received a report on Saturday about sexual abuse involving 48-year-old John Hammonds, according to an affidavit signed by a trooper and filed Monday. Hammonds is a teacher at Akiachak School. Hammonds sexually assaulted the girl in August at his home, the affidavit said. And on the first day of school, he asked the girl to undress in his classroom while he was alone with her, the affidavit said.
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Matt Nevala, Anchorage Daily News

Buoyed by senior quarterback Jarren Littell’s four rushing and two passing touchdowns and sound game-planning from the start of the game, the Malemutes claimed their first state football title of any kind. Lathrop accomplished the near unthinkable by beating stout Soldotna twice — in the postseason finale at Service High on the Anchorage Hillside and during the regular season, Aug. 20 in Fairbanks.
Tyler Thompson, KDLG Dillingham

Nine athletes from Dillingham City School District qualified for the cross country state championship at the Southwest Cross Country Regionals. Athletes from the Southwest Regional School District could not attend due to COVID-19-related travel mandates in their respective communities.
Jeff Helminiak, Peninsula Clarion

Nearly a year after everything went wrong for the Soldotna football program, nearly everything went right Friday night at Justin Maile Field in Soldotna.
Sage Smiley, KSTK, Wrangell

As residents of an island, Wrangell student-athletes often have to travel to compete. But the City and Borough of Wrangell has travel testing and quarantine mandates in place for unvaccinated people over the age of 10. Wrangell’s school superintendent Bill Burr says that’s causing disruptions.
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.

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

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