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.
September 2020
Norm Wooten
AASB Executive Director

Sharing Your District's Story with Policymakers

With the school year well underway, your district's efforts in preparing for school openings have been herculean, involving the entire staff, communities, families, students, tribes, and board members. Your Smart Start plans have allowed you to assess risks and open schools with well thought out community contingency plans. All of this information is important to share with policymakers as elections draw closer.

Betsy Brenneman, AASB Preschool Development Grant Coordinator

Guidance to Improve Alaska’s Early Childhood System Offered in New Statewide Strategic Plan

Early Childhood Alaska: A Strategic Direction for 2020-2025 outlines a series of bold actions to benefit children, prenatal through age eight, their families and communities with equitable access to resources, quality affordable care and education and every opportunity to succeed.

Rich Carlson, AASB
Board Support & Training Coordinator


On March 10th, I first paid attention to this new virus that would significantly impact health. Indeed, I had heard some reports of a virus in China. Still, I did not believe it would have much of an effect on the U.S.

Obviously, I was wrong like so many other people. Not only would this virus have a major impact on our health, but it would, in fact, change our lives forever.

2020 Virtual Fall Boardsmanship Academy Recap

Our sincere thanks to all who attended AASB’s first-ever Virtual Fall Boardsmanship Academy! Your participation made the event a success! It was wonderful to see so many of our statewide friends and colleagues, and to share knowledge, experiences, and conversations with you. Here's a quick recap of some of the weekend's highlights.
Saturday Highlights
Department of Education & Early Development Update

DEED Deputy Commissioner Karen Melin kicked off the day with a synopsis of the department's approach to the pandemic. "COVID-19 is not our strategic plan," Melin said. "We have to outmaneuver it to accomplish our goals." She briefed attendees on a range of department priorities, including Alaska's Education Challenge, Smart Start virtual instruction training and other professional development opportunities, the Alaska Statewide Virtual System for remotely delivered coursework, and how DEED is addressing the issue of declining enrollment and its impact on district budgets.
Karen Melin
The COVID QUAGMIRE: Legal Give and Take … and Take and Give

John Sedor began by unveiling the newest member of his firm's legal team, Betsy Bull. Together they tag-teamed through an informative presentation on how—and how not—to navigate the "social media minefield" as a school board member. The pair provided multiple real-life examples of public figures whose online activities and "private" emails led to their professional downfalls. Some of the duo's "best practice" guidelines included: 1. Nothing online is private,
2. You will always be seen first as a school board member. 3. Qualified Immunity does not protect you from being sued. 4. Use social media to "Listen."
John Sedor
& Betsy Bull
Team Optimizing Project (TOP): ​What Does the Data Say About​​ Teacher Retention?

Jerry Covey of JSC Consulting and Dr. Barbara Adams of Adams Analytic Solution provided an overview of the Team Optimizing Project (TOP), a staff survey and assessment tool intended to strengthen the workforce. The TOP process surveys certified and classified staff, and tracks their satisfaction across a variety of metrics, including work environment, leadership, and workplace fairness. Collected data is shared with school boards and the workforce to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement, and promote meaningful change.
Jerry Covey
& Dr. Barbara Adams
Teacher Recruitment & Retention During COVID-19​

Toni McFadden, Manager of the Alaska Teacher Placement Office at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, shared how the pandemic has changed the teacher recruitment process in Alaska. She described how attendance at national education job fairs has dropped dramatically in recent years, a result of the growing country-wide teacher shortage. Ms. McFadden also outlined steps being taken to "grow our own" in-state teachers, and programs that provide assistance to new teachers, including Educators Rising Alaska that prepares Alaska Middle & High School students to become future educators, and The Alaska Statewide Mentor Project that provides individualized support to first and second year teachers.
Toni McFadden
Sunday Highlights
Without Policy, We’re Driving Blindfolded

AASB Membership Director Lon Garrison provided an overview of how board policy guides governance. "Policy provides the framework for the day-to-day operation of the district," Garrison explained, "It keeps decision-making situation-based and not person-based, and helps keep the Board focused on governance and Board business." He described the process of how policies are made and approved, clarified board and superintendent roles in carrying out policy, and underscored the importance of having the policy manual posted in an accessible location on the district website.
Lon Garrison
Curriculum? What do I need to know and why does it matter?

Ted Wilson, Director of Teaching and Learning for the Juneau School District and AASB's Lon Garrison teamed up to provide a better understanding of curriculum and instructional materials, and the Board’s role in approving them. They stressed that curriculum is not just textbooks, and also includes an adopted document that contains the scope and sequence of skills and performance expectations in given K-12 subject areas. Wilson detailed each step in the process of curriculum adoption, from studying local, state and national standards and aligning performance expectations, to feedback, revision, formal approval, budgeting, and review. He also shared examples of his district's Social Studies and Science curricula.
Ted Wilson
& Lon Garrison
Stronger Together: Building bridges between families and schools to help students succeed

Claudia Plesa, AASB Community Engagement Manager, introduced Stronger Together, a resource developed by AASB to help school districts engage families systematically and equitably. Following a brief overview of research on the importance of family participation in a student's education, she led an interactive discussion of strategies to establish, maintain, and restore relationships with families that can support student well-being, growth, resilience, and academic progress. Building blocks to family partnerships, Plesa said, include Embedding a Mindset, Building Relationships, Culturally Responsive Partnerships, Links to Learning, Building Confidence and Skills, and Co-Regulation (Regulating Emotions Together).
Claudia Plesa
Essential Items Every School Board Member Should Have at Their Fingertips

Associate AASB Executive Director Timi Tullis provided a "Top 10 List" of resources for effective board members, along with examples of why they're important. Her suggestions included:
  • Updated Policy Manual (When did you last look at your Board By-Laws?)
  • Current Superintendent Contract (when do we evaluate the superintendent?
  • Parliamentary Procedure Cheat Sheet (Who can make a motion?)
  • Strategic Plan (What are your Mission and Vision Statements?)
  • District Budget (How much of the budget is taken by set costs?)
  • AASB Contact Information (We're always here to answer your questions!)
Timi Tullis
2020 Virtual Fall Boardsmanship Academy Resources
Click the button below to access slideshows and other public resources from the event. Video and audio recordings of the sessions are also available exclusively to districts that registered for the Virtual Fall Boardsmanship Academy.
Many thanks to the presenters and attendees who made our first virtual event a success. We look forward to seeing everyone at the AASB Virtual Annual Conference!
AASB Virtual Annual Conference
Registration Opens Soon!
Alaska’s largest gathering of Education Professionals is going Virtual in 2020! Join AASB for an exciting lineup of learning opportunities and resources designed to help you and your school board stay connected, engaged, and informed.

Highlights of this year's conference include two General Sessions, fifteen Breakout Sessions, Networking Lounges, opportunities to connect and learn from each other, Online Auction for June Nelson Memorial Scholarship, and more!

Check out the schedule and Add-on Sessions below. We hope to see you there!
Saturday Keynote
William Parrett

Director of the Center for School Improvement & Policy Studies, Professor of Education at Boise State University.
Sunday Keynote
Kameron Perez-Verdia

President & CEO of the Alaska Humanities Forum, Co-Chair of Anchorage Assembly Public Safety and Budget/Finance committees
Saturday Sessions
  • School Law
  • President's Workshop: Superintendent Evaluation
  • Kindergarten Readiness, Early Learning Statewide Plan
  • Keynote Follow-up with William Parrett
  • Business & Networking Luncheon
  • Like-Size District Forums
  • Conducting Board Meetings
  • Creating Cultural Knowledge
  • Credential Programs
  • School Activities During COVID
  • Distance Delivery/ Panorama Education
Sunday Sessions
  • Building a 5-year Strategic Plan
  • Subsistence Food in Schools
  • Equity in Education
  • Language & Culture Immersion in Schools
  • Lunch & Learn
  • Advocacy
  • Trauma Informed Schools
  • Equity & Policy
  • Delegate Assembly
  • Closing Session & Award Ceremony
Add-on Sessions
Ready Set Govern!
Designed for New School Board Members
  • $99 per school board member
  • 10/21, 6-7:30 pm & 10/24, 9 am-12 pm
Experienced Board Member Academy
Ann MacFarlane of Jurassic Parliament-Great School Board Meetings (Robert’s Rules)
  • $500 per district (only one location log-in issued)
  • $150 per individual board member
  • 11/6, 9 am - 12 pm
Youth Leadership Institute 
Focus areas: Leadership skills, sharing your voice with your board, Traditional storytelling, and more!
  • $285 per student
  • $1,500 for up to 6 students
  • Contact cplesa@aasb.org
Invitation to Participate!
Seeking Youth Performers for AASB Annual Conference
Do you know of a student or a student group that would be interested in performing?

We welcome students sharing any skills, including cultural and traditional activities!

We'll work with your student(s) to create a recorded segment to play during the Annual Conference.

For more information:
Contact Jenni Lefing
Seeking Items for
June Nelson Auction

The June Nelson auction is moving online this year and will take place alongside the Annual Conference.

We need your help to make it a success! Donated items from your district are needed!

Proceeds from the auction fund scholarships students can apply to their post-secondary education.

To donate items:
Contact Jenni Lefing
More Upcoming Events - Save the Dates!
AASB Executive Admin Workshop
December 10-11, 2020
School Law & Equity Academy
December 11-12, 2020
Virtual AASB Maintenance Conference
January 13-14

Response Due By
October 6, 2020

AASB is soliciting resolutions, resolution amendments, and comments from local school boards for consideration by the 2020 Resolutions Committee and the membership.

Resolutions guide our association for the coming year, as well as our advocacy and positions during the upcoming legislative session.

37th Annual Elders & Youth Conference
October 11-13
First Alaskans Institute’s 37th Annual Elders & Youth Conference (Elders & Youth) theme, “Asirqamek Apruciluta” (Sugt’stun, Chugach), “Asisqamek Aprut’liluta” (Alutiiq) assures us that we are moving in the right direction – physically in our real world today and symbolically in life. Its translation into English is “We Are Making a Good Path.”
This theme exemplifies our ancestral responsibilities to protect and advance our peoples and communities, including through this time of COVID-19 and the racial justice transformation that is happening right now as well.

This year’s Elders & Youth will begin on Sunday, October 11 and close out on Wednesday, October 14 in a reimagined and culturally-enriched virtual environment. This will keep our peoples safe while also increasing access for those who have not yet had a chance to participate.

Elders & Youth provides a special opportunity to celebrate our Alaska Native peoples, make connections, reinforce identity and belonging, engage in cultural practices and languages, identify issues and priorities of our communities, explore art and our creative worlds, strengthen our collective advocacy, and contribute to the greater community through the transference of knowledge between our generations. In short, we put the power of our cultures in the center and wrap our Elders, youth, and other participants in the precious collective love and nurturing environment they deserve.

Flow for Elders & Youth "Virtual Gathering"
Sunday, October 11, 2020, 1pm-5pm
Warming of the Hands
Coffeetime with Elders & Healers

Monday, October 12, 9am-5pm
Plenary Presentations
Elder Keynote
Lunch & Learn
Regional Breakouts
Living & Loving Our Cultures Language Workshops
Tuesday, October 13, 9am-5pm
Plenary Presentations
Youth Keynote
Lunch & Learn
House Discussions
Living & Loving Our Cultures Art Workshops

Wednesday, October 14, 9am-2pm
Plenary Presentations
Regional Breakouts
House Discussions
The Careful Balancing Act
Betsy Bull of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Part Two of the series, Ripped from the Headlines

Usually, teacher strikes are local. Usually, strikes follow unsuccessful bargaining. Usually, talk of strikes is a bargaining strategy, and an agreement is reached at the eleventh hour. 2020, as we know, is anything but usual.
Teachers’ unions across the country have threatened to strike over a situation that no one saw coming — a global pandemic.

Betsy Bull
Criticizing a board decision in public
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
It is a basic principle of parliamentary procedure that the decision of the majority, voting at a properly called meeting, is the decision of the body as a whole. The members whose views did not prevail are bound to go along with the majority. This goes back deep in time, to the origins of our entire system of democratic governance.

ASK AASB: What are best practices for addressing emailed public comments at virtual board meetings?
During a virtual meeting, do folks need to sign up and speak during the meeting, even if only to say, “I have an email I would like to send” to accept a public comment received via email?
Or do they need to address it as a public comment in the email for a particular meeting and send it within a reasonable time frame for the Academic Policy Committee (APC) to receive and review it before it is packaged and approved with the meeting minutes?

Get more answers to frequently asked questions at ASK AASB
Got a question? Email Timi Tullis or Lon Garrison.
STEPS Spotlight
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.
Resources for the New School Year
New Trauma Engaged Tools: Transforming Schools Webinar Series

Get familiar with the newly launched Transforming Schools Toolkit, an online companion guide to the Transforming Schools: A Framework for Trauma Engaged Practice in Alaska.

The Association of Alaska School Boards and the Department of Education and Early Development are offering weekly webinars and discussions for school district staff, school board members, and families.

Tuesdays thru Oct. 27
3:30 – 5 p.m.

Extra Student Support: Virtual Fall Study Group

Tlingit & Haida’s Navigators program is offering a virtual Zoom study group for 6-12 grade AN/AI students. Tutoring, homework coaching, and one-on-one sessions are available to help students get the most out of their school year. Sessions are offered Wednesdays thru Dec. 16,

More Information
Call: 907-463-7752

Register Online
Elementary sessions
3:15 – 4:15 p.m.
6th-12th grade sessions
4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Alaskan Bridge
To College

The Alaskan Bridge To College Program is for high school Juniors, Seniors and anyone thinking about college. Designed to help people improve study skills and gain the confidence to succeed in college, this asynchronous online course is aimed at people who may not have studied for a while, who are working, raising children, fishing during the summer, putting up supplies for winter, and keeping important traditions alive.

Learn More

To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
State & National News
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.
Tribes win decision to exclude Alaska Native corporations from $8B coronavirus fund
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media
Alaska Native corporations can’t receive a share of the $8 billion coronavirus fund Congress created for tribes, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit says. If it stands, the decision could prevent Alaska’s regional and village corporations from receiving hundreds of millions of dollars.

The corporations called the decision flawed and damaging to remote communities and villages most at risk from COVID-19.

Barrett Prettyman Court House, home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Photo: Wikimedia
Education for Cultural Survival - Integrating Indigenous knowledge & language into Western curriculum
Kristina Rizga, The Atlantic
Most of the Indigenous people of Wales depend on gathering berries and greens in the tundra, as well as hunting whales, seals, and other sea life for survival. This means that access to traditional Inupiaq education—how to read the weather to avoid a life-threatening blizzard, how to hunt in a way that doesn’t disturb the delicate balance of nature, sharing, and cooperation—can be a matter of life or death.

But until the early 1990s, most rural schools in Alaska didn’t teach Indigenous knowledge and languages.
Josephine Tatauq Bourdon in the elementary school she retired from in Nome, Alaska. Photo: Brian Adams
Wales didn’t have any Native teachers until Josephine Tatauq Bourdon began her first year of working in her mother’s Native village in 1988. Back then, all of the school’s 60 students were Inupiaq, but none of the classes were taught in the Inupiaq language.

Six Teens Named Local Heroes
Alaska Communications
From helping neighbors navigate the pandemic, to giving a voice to those less fortunate, advocating for and uplifting others, and assisting individuals following a plane crash, Alaska youth are doing remarkable work to improve lives in our local communities.
Through the Summer of Heroes Program, Alaska Communications is proud to celebrate six youth for their outstanding community service across Alaska.
Congratulations to the 2020 Youth Heroes!
Rosalie Cortes, age 17, Anchorage
Asya Gipson, age 17, Eagle River
Joy Martin, age 17, Anchorage
Trevor Morgan, age 17, Aniak
Zoe Nelles, age 18, Palmer
Ted (Emily) Tedrick, age 17, Anchorage
Educating Through a Pandemic: From Alaska Schools Creating Digital Networks to Aid Remote Learning to a Homework Freeze in Texas to Limit Screen Time, 9 Ways States Are Aiding Schools Amid COVID-19
Joshua Parrish, The 74
Now that the majority of schools and families in the U.S. have officially begun the new school year, a chorus of concerns are being raised by parents feeling overwhelmed by virtual instruction.

Amid high-profile news of technology failures and lawsuits regarding reopenings, many parents are worried that schools might not be able to serve their child’s needs or that the impact of this year’s educational disruption might reach far into the future. Of course, the long-term economic consequences, to many, are secondary to the hardships being imposed on families and students now, as the pandemic’s toll on life in the U.S. passes the 200,000 mark.

COVID-19 has cost the University of Alaska $15 million so far, on top of budget cuts
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
UA has lost nearly $15 million to date due to the pandemic, and that loss will likely double by the end of this fiscal year, according to its new interim president, Pat Pitney. Next year, the university system faces another $20 million in cuts after already losing $50 million in funding in accordance with a compact it made with Gov. Mike Dunleavy, which reduces the university’s state funding by $70 million over three years.

COVID-19 Resources from DHSS
Do you have a plan for what to do if any of the caregivers in your family become sick with COVID-19?

Well-Being Alaska offers healthy ways to cope, encourage self-care, and reduce stress.

Alaskans 65 and older and anyone with an underlying medical condition should continue to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The broad impacts of COVID-19 are elevating the risk of child abuse and neglect in Alaska.
Iditarod says it’s planning 2021 race with new safety plans
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is expected to go forward in 2021 with new safety plans and the help of an infectious disease epidemiologist, race officials announced.

Wade Marrs and his team approach Nome. Photo: Marc Lester, ADN
Many Anchorage schools are named after people. Here’s who those people were.
David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News
The most common type of history question people ask me can be summed up as: “Why’s it named that?” Everyone lives in a relationship with their surroundings. And as with any relationship, knowing more about your partner — Anchorage in this case — promotes a stronger connection. Today it is time to learn about the origins of local school names.

Abbott Loop Elementary School
Photo: Bill Roth, ADN
Alaska School District News
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.
Charlie Sokaitis, KTUU
When the Anchorage School District finally opens it’s doors to students they’re going to be using hypochlorous acid to clean all their buildings and classrooms. “It’s really the disinfectant of the 21st century and it’s going to leave all the others that we would have used behind.” Says Rob Holland, Director of Operations for ASD. That specific product, hypochlorous acid, is safe, effective, hospital grade, but also difficult to source during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
A majority of teachers in the Anchorage School District are apprehensive about returning to in-person school, and some may refuse to return to classrooms, according to a recent survey from the teachers union for the Anchorage School District.
The Anchorage Education Association, which has about 3,200 members, conducted a survey about teachers' concerns with school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sophia Desalvo, KNOM
Gambell’s school has closed its doors to staff, students, and community members until October 9th as a result of a recent 14-day “hunker down” notice imposed by the City of Gambell. As of September 28th, there are 19 positive COVID-19 cases in Gambell. In an effort to curb the spread of the disease caused by the coronavirus, the City of Gambell is prohibiting all residents from leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary. No one will be allowed into the school building at this time, and all student meals and student activities are suspended as well.
Isabelle Ross and Brian Venua, KDLG
Schools opened this month and the four school districts in Bristol Bay have developed safety plans for the upcoming school year. Here's a rundown of what families around the region can expect and resources where they can learn more.
Isabelle Ross, KDLG
A Dillingham resident tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation. The City of Dillingham and the Curyung Tribal Council believe the individual may have been out in the community while awaiting their test results. Dillingham City School District has reached out to all impacted families, and the students of those families will quarantine before returning to school.
Robyne, WJCT
The superintendent of Fairbanks area schools has announced she will retire in June. Karen Gaborik has worked for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District for more than 20 years and has been the Superintendent of Schools since 2014.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Luke Meinert is the new guy in the upper echelons of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District administration. The 38-year-old assistant superintendent for secondary education made his mark in education by getting Esports sanctioned as an extracurricular activity.
KINY, Juneau
Martin Stepetin, Senior, is pretty confident he'll be elected to the Juneau School Board on his second try. The Alaska Native was asked about the resolution approved by the School Board recently that was sent to the Association of Alaska School Boards to develop a textbook on Alaska Native History. "Hopefully whenever AASB brings that to the state we can get that passed and we can get a textbook that's actually made by Alaska Natives teaching exactly what the real history of Alaska is."
KINY Newscenter, Juneau
The Juneau School District will offer full-day RALLY after CARES Act funding makes it more affordable. Since the beginning of September, the district has been offering full-day K-5 RALLY programming at Harborview, Glacier Valley, and Riverbend Elementary schools from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Now, with recent Assembly funding, a portion of the monthly cost to families will be subsidized, making the program more accessible.
Sabine Poux, KDLL - Soldotna
“We absolutely have to build up our substitute pool,” said Anne McCabe, president of the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, at the Sept. 14 school board meeting. “We have many employees who are in a heightened state of work because they know they can’t take time off. There is no one there to sub for them.”
Victoria Petersen, for the Peninsula Clarion
The borough and school district still have their eyes on a new school in Kachemak-Selo. A request to extend a state grant to help fund much of the school’s construction was approved by the Department of Education and Early Development. The grant previously had a deadline of June 2021.
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
The new school year is underway in Alaska and the majority of the state’s students are attending school online. While online education is a challenge for any district that’s used to brick and mortar schools, it’s a significant obstacle for the majority of school districts in Alaska which are rural or remote.
Wesley Early, KOTZ
After starting the school year with students learning remotely, Kotzebue’s three schools — June Nelson Elementary School, Kotzebue Middle-High School and STAR Magnet School — have moved to a limited in-person schooling schedule. The three schools are operating under the medium risk, or “yellow” risk level. Students have been divided into groups A and B, with A students attending school on Mondays and Tuesdays, and B students in school on Thursdays and Fridays. School officials say the school’s limited re-opening is still subject to local COVID-19 case counts.
Eric Stone, KRBD
Ketchikan’s school district will spend as much as $130,000 leasing local churches for extra classroom space. Leasing church buildings would allow school officials to cut the number of students in each classroom in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus when school resumes September 8. It’s one of the safety measures teachers asked for at the board’s last meeting earlier this month.
Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District and local teachers union announced Thursday that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. The announcement follows more than 18 months of negotiations, and a recent vote by the union authorizing a strike if a compromise couldn’t be reached.
Sophia Desalvo, KNOM
Three boarding schools that enroll students from Western Alaska are reopening this fall, and students are expected to travel outside of the region to live on campus for the school year. Kusilvak Career Academy (KCA) and Alaska Middle College School (AMCS) are located in Anchorage, and both schools will be requiring students interested in attending to live on campus during the first semester despite engaging in online-only learning.
Sophia Desalvo, KNOM
This year, the Society for Science and the Public awarded nearly $350,000 to only 66 teachers mentoring students from underserved populations around the country. One of those teachers is Dr. Anthony Husemann, a full-time science teacher at Nome-Beltz High School. Dr. Husemann received $5000 in grant money to serve as a mentor and advocate for Nome students to be able to conduct science research independently, as well as to develop STEM projects that can then be entered into science research competitions.
Jenna Kunze, Arctic Sounder
Kaktovik's 72 school children will be heading to class for the first time since their school burnt down in February. On Feb. 7, a fire ignited underneath the building where the plumbing is located when the maintenance team blew hot air onto frozen pipes to thaw them, the school's plant manager Leroy Stigen said. The 50-year-old school burnt almost entirely when firefighters' hoses froze and they were unable to suppress the flames.
Wesley Early, KOTZ
All three schools in Kotzebue, as well as three Northwest Arctic village schools, are in the red, high-risk operational zone. That means schooling will have to be conducted totally remotely. According to Northwest Arctic Borough School District superintendent Terri Walker, for a school in a village community to move from the red zone to the yellow, medium risk zone, they must have zero cases of COVID-19 over a 14-day period.
Melinda Munson, Skagway News
Skagway City School was in an enviable position when it started in-person school on Aug. 27 with no confirmed cases of COVID-19. According to Dr. Josh Coughran superintendent, so far, things have gone well. Parents had the option of in-person school, Alaska Statewide Virtual School, which uses Skagway School teachers to support students while they learn from home, or leaving the district altogether and homeschooling.
Maggie Nelson, KUCB
The Unalaska City School Board accepted the resignation of chair member Josh Good at seat D. It was the final meeting for both Good—who is moving off island—and board member Cherry Tan, whose seat is up for election on Oct. 6. Meanwhile, the board swore in its 2020 student representative, Natalie Buttner. Buttner was elected through the board's first-ever virtual student representative election.
Sage Smiley, KSTK
Wrangell’s assembly voted Tuesday to earmark up to $125,000 dollars in federal pandemic relief for the schools. That’s half the amount the city rescinded last month from the school district in the wake of an unauthorized travel and shopping trip by the schools superintendent Debbe Lancaster and three other district employees. 
Erin McKinstry, KCAW
Around 100 students in the Yakutat School District went back to school. After a cluster of cases in late July, the community now has no active cases of the coronavirus, according to local officials. Students will attend classes in-person four days a week, unless they opt for virtual schooling.
Alaska School Sports News
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.
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
Even though students aren’t back in classrooms yet, there have been 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since ASD began tracking cases among district employees and students this month. Four high school athletic teams are currently under quarantine. Six cases involved staff members and five involved student-athletes, said Lisa Miller, a spokeswoman with the district. One athletic team at Dimond High, two at West High and one at Service High are quarantining.
Beth Bragg, Anchorage Daily News
The pandemic has brought delays, cancellations, modifications and a host of new safety protocols for Alaska high school sports. Now it’s bringing controversy. Early in September, the Alaska School Activities Association decided to limit participation at the state cross-country championships in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Instead of letting entire teams qualify for the Oct. 10 championships in Anchorage — home to the majority of Alaska’s COVID-19 cases — only individuals will qualify, ASAA’s board of directors ruled. No team titles will be awarded. The plan will slice the number of participants by about 55%, from 460 last year to 208 this year.
Greg Kim, KYUK
The pandemic has changed the face of schooling throughout the Lower Kuskokwim School District, and nowhere is this more evident than in school athletics. Superintendent Kimberly Hankins says that some schools have found a way to stage cross-country meets virtually, but that takes careful consideration of the nature of the course.
Jeremiah Bartz Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
The Alaska State Activities Association announced a game plan for the 2020 prep football postseason. But the Valley teams’ place in the playoffs is still uncertain. “It’s not guaranteed the district will let us in,” Palmer High School activities director and ASAA board vice president Dale Ewart said. “We’re waiting on that decision.”
Sophia Desalvo, KNOM
The Nome-Beltz High School volleyball team resumed practice nearly two weeks ago after an athlete tested positive for the disease caused by the coronavirus. As it stands, the Nanooks may be the only team in the region currently holding practices.
Wesley Early, KOTZ
With fall sports canceled in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, officials say they’re moving to get students involved in the emerging realm of competitive eSports. “Kids will be able to form teams where they’ll compete in two sanctioned sports under ASAA, Alaska School Activities Association,” said Brett Slaathaug, activities coordinator for the school district. One of the two sanctioned sports is Rocket League, a video game where players play soccer using rocket-powered vehicles. The other is League of Legends, a game where players control avatar-like “champions” and work together to destroy an enemy team’s base.
Sage Smiley, KTSK
Wrangell Public Schools has clarified its travel policy: student athletes will be able to travel on a case-by-case basis. Over the last month, the school board and district received calls and emails from parents and students asking for clarification about the schools’ travel policy, some after Wrangell student athletes weren’t allowed to attend a cross country meet in Klawock.
AASB Webinars
. WEBINAR . How the Board can Support their Superintendent during the COVID Pandemic
Presenters: Clint Champion, Dr. Bridget Weiss, Scott MacManus, Lon Garrison, and Timi Tullis. Co-sponsored by AASB and the Alaska Superintendent's Association.
. WEBINAR . COVID and School Opening Issues
Presenters: John Sedor and NEA Attorney Michael Wenstrup explore a range of possible legal scenarios associated with school reopening.
. WEBINAR . Simple Answers to All Your COVID-19 Legal Questions
A conversation with DEED Commissioner Michael Johnson and Attorney John Sedor about operational legal issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
AASB Workshops for You and Your Board
AASB now offers condensed, distance-delivered versions of our popular workshops and training sessions. Member districts receive a special rate for AASB sessions: $600 includes preparation, up to 3 hours of training, and a post-training report.
  • Board/Superintendent Relations
  • How to run Effective Meetings
  • Board Self Evaluations (with a resulting board improvement plan)
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Board’s Quasi-Judicial Role
  • Using Your District’s Data for Planning
  • Data for School Boards
  • School Budget & Finance
  • Family Engagement
  • Youth Engagement
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Policy
  • Facilitated Superintendent Evaluation
  • Advisory School Committees
  • Charter Schools
  • Communications with your board
  • Labor Relations
  • Ethics
  • School Climate: What does School Climate & Connectedness look like now?
  • Trauma-Engaged Schools
  • Specialized facilitation:
  • Focus on particular issues
  • Choice of program
  • Scheduling to meet the needs of your board members and administrators
  • Team building
We can also provide customized solutions based on your needs. 
Please reach out to us.

- More Information -

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

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

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

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

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

Association of Alaska School Boards | aasb.org