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 Registration Open!
  • Call for Resolutions!
  • Award Nominations: Carl Rose Governance, Outstanding Board, AASB Board of Directors
  • Snapshot Sessions Registration Open!
  • June Nelson Scholarship Auction Items Needed!
  • SCCS Registration Open!
  • AASB Fall Boardsmanship Academy Highlights
  • Highlighting Strategic Plans - Juneau School District
  • Webinars: Professional Boundaries Training
  • Lea Filippi - A Free AND Ordered Space: A Nation Divided by Mandatory COVID Vaccines
  • Jurassic Parliament
  • Ask AASB
  • STEPS Spotlight
  • Bulletin Board
  • Federal, State, & District News, and more!
Is this about big people or little people?
Lon Garrison, AASB Executive Director

For the past 18 months, school boards and superintendents have been under intense pressure to deliver public education opportunities to students throughout Alaska and keep learning happening.

For much of the past year, a lot of those learning opportunities came through remote delivery. This methodology worked for some students, but for many, it was not effective or even available. It was almost impossible to deliver the social-emotional support of in-person learning, the human-to-human interactions that can make teaching such an art.

Today, school boards and superintendents are doing everything they can to keep kids in school and safe. The tight wire act that boards and superintendents must navigate is a balance between the need for in-person learning and the prevention of COVID transmission. The Delta variant has thrown us a curveball just when we thought we might actually be coming out of this nightmare.

Unfortunately, school boards and superintendents now have to contend with an added challenge.

Want to be part of moving public education forward in Alaska?
Tiffany Jackson, Director of Membership Services

Hopefully by now all Alaska School Board members have been notified that the nomination period to run for the AASB Board of Directors is open. Any school board member who is interested in the AASB Board of Directors is encouraged to submit their nomination. Nominations are due by October 8th!

For the first time, this year AASB held a webinar to answer questions about what is required of Directors, and their districts. If you have time and bandwidth, you can watch the recording of this video here.

Don’t have the bandwidth or time to watch the video? Fear not, we’ve got you! Continue reading to review the process, and frequently asked questions.

November 4-7, 2021
Hilton Anchorage

This year’s conference will include two general sessions,
over 15 breakout sessions, roundtables, Snapshot sessions, networking opportunities, June Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser, Delegate Assembly, and more!
Friday Keynote Speaker
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:

  • Find the Good
  • If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name
  • Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs
  • and most recently Of Bears and Ballots about her contentious 2016-19 term on the Haines Borough Assembly.

Her many essays and stories, mostly about life and sometimes death, have been distributed widely.
Saturday Keynote Speaker
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. 

Most recently, she spearheaded the creation of ASBA’s Leading for Equity Curriculum which aims to support boards on their equity journey through specific actions and guided conversations. 

Ms. Whaley will share what her association has done around equity and what school boards can do.
Call for Resolutions!

Response Due By
Midnight October 5, 2021

It's that time again! AASB is soliciting resolutions, resolution amendments, and comments from local school boards to guide AASB during the upcoming year, establish advocacy priorities, and identify issue positions for the upcoming legislative session.
Nominations Deadline: October 8
Carl Rose Governance

Nominations must be received by October 8, 2021

Named after long-time AASB Executive Director Carl Rose, this award recognizes an outstanding school board member for their contributions to Alaska’s students. We encourage you to consider a board member from your district who has made a difference in students’ lives to nominate for the Carl Rose Governance Award.

Information & Nomination Form
Outstanding School Board Award

Nominations must be received by October 8, 2021

The Outstanding School Board Award honors a school board who uses their governance authority to effectively serve the students of the district to create our future leaders. 

Consider self-nominating your own board or another board for the School Board of the Year.

Information & Nomination Form
AASB Board of Directors
Nominations must be received by October 8, 2021

AASB will have 5 three year seats and 1 one year seat open for this election cycle.

The AASB Board is made up of 15 school board members who govern the Association for the benefit of all the member districts. Consider nominating a member of your school board for this vital role.

Nominated individuals will be interviewed via Zoom prior to the Annual Conference.
Information &
Nomination Form
Have questions about what it takes to serve on the AASB Board, the time commitment involved, and what’s required from your district?
Tiffany Jackson and Timi Tullis recently hosted a 1-hour webinar to explain more about what it means to serve on the Board of Directors, and answer questions.
Snapshot Registration Deadline Extended to Oct 15!
Do you have a program, project or strategy that you would like to share with school board members? If so, we invite you to present at one of our Snapshot Sessions, Friday November 5 1:30 - 3 pm at AASB’s Annual Conference.
Snapshot sessions are a great way for school board members and district leaders to learn about new strategies, education programs, projects, and initiatives from around the state. In this small group setting, each presenter leads four 15-20 minute sessions, which includes time for questions.

Snapshot Sessions will take place 
Friday, November 5, 1:30-3:00 pm
at the Hilton Anchorage
Please Note

Snapshot presenters are required to adhere to conference registration requirements that require one of the three items below:

  • 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.
Seeking Auction Items
Donated items from your district
help make the auction a success!

The June Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser is an annual AASB tradition. This year's auction will be held online during the weeks leading up to the conference, AND live during the conference.

All auction items will be listed in the online auction, but some items will only be available to bid on at the live auction, held Friday, November 5th at 5:30 pm at the Anchorage Hilton's Alaska Ballroom.

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

Please join us in supporting Alaska's students!
To donate auction items contact Jenni Lefing
Sponsorship of AASB's 68th Annual Conference by your business or organization will increase your visibility to AASB's members, while supporting the expansion of training efforts for school governance leaders who work on behalf of Alaska’s students. AASB has several support levels that offer a variety of options designed to fit any size organization's needs. Click the button below to learn more.
COVID-19 Safety Requirements for Attending the
AASB Annual Conference
In an effort to balance safety and the desire to gather and learn from each other in person, the November 2021 AASB Annual Conference registration will require one of the three items listed below:
  • 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 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.
AASB’s 2021 Fall Boardsmanship Academy
AASB's first in-person event, since February 2020, Fall Boardsmanship Academy, was held September 17-19 at the Lakefront Anchorage. Over 50 school board members & superintendents from districts across the state gathered to participate in sessions led by over a dozen, educators, state officials, and AASB staff. 
The Academy provided an opportunity for members to reconnect, share and learn from each other, build boardsmanship skills and increase knowledge on issues facing Alaska’s students, staff, and families.
Topics presented on included: Lessons Learned from COVID-19, Mental Health Supports, Family Engagement, Special Education Services, Updates from DEED, legal issues, and Board and Superintendent Relations.

Slideshows and other resources from Fall Boardsmanship Academy are here:
Friday Summary
Friday's pre-Academy Day focused on school board and superintendent relations, with presentations from a panel of knowledgeable experts:

  • Attorney John Sedor provided legal perspective on superintendent contracts, messaging, evaluations, and contract extensions.
  • Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop discussed social media, navigating tough issues, and managing interactions with the press, unions, and parents.
  • Former Saint Mary's School District Superintendent Dave Herbert talked about the importance of teamwork between the board and superintendent, understanding personnel roles, and challenges of the board president's role.
  • AASB's Timi Tullis concluded the day with a presentation on the importance of strategic planning, setting annual goals, superintendent communication, and board teamwork.
What Attendees Said:

“Today’s sessions were very exciting and informative. A good reminder of our values and what we need to review so that we can do a better job as a board member.”

“Listening to experienced, knowledgeable professionals, I’m a new board member.”

“Each topic very relevant to board operations.”
Saturday Summary
The first day of the Academy began with members reflecting on how they adapted their work during COVID-19, identifying lessons and practices from those adaptations, and what they, as a school board, can do to continue to support them. 
During conversations, districts noted the need to “adapt what is happening in real-time” during COVID. This included holding school board meetings virtually; having diverse instruction practices, including virtual classes, 1:1 phone calls, Intranet, and work packets; and supporting families that did not have adequate internet.
Best practices around communication was a key theme that emerged when Boards discussed what they wanted to carry forward. This includes having authentic conversations, gathering input from local advisory committees, families, communities, tribes/cities and school staff.
Following this session, to help boards think through moving forward, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development IEE Director Susan McKenzie reviewed the five current DEED projects aligned with the Alaska Education Challenge:

  • Evidence-based reading instruction
  • A refresh and refocus of Alaska Standards
  • Successful School Improvement Project
  • Assessment and Data Literacy
  • Providers Roundtable

Attendees then identified what strategies their district is carrying out under each of these DEED projects. See their district strategies here.
Following lunch, the Special Education Service Agency provided an overview of Special Education services available to Alaska school districts. AASB's Lisa Worl & Claudia Plesa closed out the day reflecting on meaningful family engagement during the pandemic, reviewing tools and resources that could help with family connections, and leading a small group discussion on board roles for family partnerships.
What Attendees Said:

“'COVID Lessons Learned' made me realize how quickly the schools reacted
to face this challenge and ensure education moved forward.”

“Good conversation with other district members. Learned common concerns and interests. Appreciated the range of services and knowledge of resources across Districts. One of the benefits AASB provides in bringing Boards together.”

“Though I am fortunate to have a pretty good working knowledge of these supports
(eg. SESA, Mental Health) it is still good for me to get current updates and know
that others do not have my background. It strengthens us all.”
Sunday Summary
Sunday morning was focused on Mental Health Supports, which began with a presentation by Sharon Fishel and Pat Sidmore from the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development titled, Mental Health Supports for All. They provided an overview of key components of the Transforming Schools Framework co-developed by AASB, discussed eLearning Trauma Resources available from DEED, and shared key findings from a recent collaborative project between DEED and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority titled, Mental Health Supports in Alaska Schools, A Landscape Assessment. Watch the Zoom recording of their presentation here.
Following this session, Elizabeth Congdon-McGee from the Alaska Counselors Association discussed mental health from a counselor’s perspective. She described the ACSA program model, provided resources, and shared data on student suicide and mental health.Attendees then shared insights on mental health topics from their own communities, and brainstormed ways to better support mental health in schools.
The afternoon was focused on boardsmanship skills; AASB's Tiffany Jackson and Timi Tullis teamed up to present a pair of topics focused on defining school board roles in personnel matters and policy. The day ended with board members identifying how they will share their learnings with the rest of their school board.
What Attendees Said:

The practical conversations, interacting with other board members from
across the state, helps us to gain and maintain a broader perspective.”
“Really fabulous to hear from DEED about supports for staff and students,
and district level reports for mental health.”

"Thanks for bringing us together for a full, engaging three days!"
Support Student Success: Run for Local School Board!

Local school boards are an American institution and are at the heart of our public education system. Learn more about school boards, get candidate Information, and download a candidate recruitment poster here:
Professional Boundaries Training for Educators

To reduce child sex abuse in schools, APEI, AASB, and other Alaska professionals have developed a 90 minute training session to educate school staff on the importance of maintaining professional boundaries.

New Session Dates Added:

  • October 8, 2021 at 1:00 PM Alaska Time
  • October 15, 2021 at 9:00 AM Alaska Time
  • October 29, 2021 at 10:00 AM Alaska Time
What’s New at AASB for the 2021-22 School Year!

With the school year off and running, we want to share AASB’s many exciting learning opportunities and resources to help districts and boards stay connected, engaged, and informed.
This Month's Plan: Juneau 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 Juneau School District. Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss described the district's plan this way: "JSD’s new strategic plan boldly identifies our commitment to narrowing our achievement gap. Beneath the goals of the plan lies the work of encouraging open minds, conversations free of blame and full of empathy, building a district community that is respectful, patient, kind."

Click on images to view larger size.
Juneau School District Superintendent 
Dr. Bridget Weiss named Alaska’s 2022
Superintendent of the Year
Alaska Council of School Administrators

Dr. Bridget Weiss, Superintendent of the Juneau School District, was named 2022 Alaska Superintendent of the year by the Alaska Superintendents Association (ASA). 

Dr. Weiss has served as Juneau superintendent for four years and has worked in the district for eight years. During her tenure, she has collaborated with local government and organizations to champion PK-12 education, student activities, and Alaska Native language revitalization. In addition, during the pandemic, she successfully implemented COVID mitigation strategies that earned her national recognition in Time Magazine.  

A Free AND Ordered Space: A Nation Divided by Mandatory COVID Vaccines
Part 2 of the series
Lea Filippi of Sedor, Wendlandt, Evans & Filippi, LLC
Whether to require COVID vaccinations is a divisive topic.

President Biden recently directed OSHA to issue a rule which would require employers with at least 100 workers to require that their employees either be vaccinated or show weekly negative COVID-19 test results. Around the country, employers – and their lawyers - are standing by to challenge the rule.
Lea Filippi
When and how can you change your vote?
Ann Macfarlane, Professional Parliamentarian
A reader contacted us with some concern because a member of her local government body had changed their vote in order to be able to move reconsideration at the next meeting. Was this legitimate?

Can a board be polled, either by phone or email, on an action item if it has been discussed at a prior meeting?
The only things the board can be polled on outside of a properly posted, and convened meeting of the board, are the date/time/location of the next board meeting. Voting on anything else, regardless of whether it was discussed before, would be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

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.
Addressing Trauma and Social Emotional Learning in the Chatham School District

“The stress of the pandemic can completely shut me down, so I use compassion to understand why my students might be struggling or not functioning in a way that I expect” – Angoon Teacher

For the second year consecutive year, Lisa Worl (AASB) and Heather Coulehan (AASB) facilitated an in-service session focused on Trauma Engaged Schools for the Chatham School District staff.

Learning Together in
Early Childhood Education

Working with young children - whether as an early learning educator, caregiver, or parent - is one of the most important jobs there is. But kids don’t come with manuals. That’s why STEPS partners offer a variety of learning opportunities for all of the people who work with young children. From home-visiting programs like Parents as Teachers, to parenting courses like Circle of Security, to professional learning courses like the Child Development Academy, there’s something for everyone.

Here are just a few ways STEPS partners are providing learning opportunities for caretaking adults:

Using School Climate Responses for Planning and
Professional Learning

Starting off the school year looking at the School Climate & Connectedness Survey responses can give a school and community team insight into how staff, students, and families feel about school safety, staff support, family partnerships, cultural connectedness, and more. This can provide insight on how to best address professional development needs and other steps for your district/ organization to take.

Thank You and Congratulations to Joy Lyon, Retiring after 25 years

Joy Lyon, the Executive Director of the Association for the Education of Young Children Southeast Alaska, is retiring after 25 years.

It’s no coincidence that the Partnership for Families and Children has been meeting monthly for 25 years; Joy and her organization have tirelessly advocated for the needs of young children while bringing together partners from across the community to share resources, identify gaps, and learn from each other.

To learn more about STEPS Alaska projects,
Did you know a child's academic success at age 9 or 10 can be attributed to the number of words and talk heard from zero to three? So keep talking, singing, and sharing your stories!

#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime
#parentingtips #rainorshinelearningallthetime

The School Health ECHO is a virtual learning network intended for professionals in the education setting (administrators, school board members, educators, school nurses and staff) to interface with a team of medical and education experts in Alaska. This ECHO meets weekly, every Monday, at 3:30 p.m.
ECHO Series Dates
  • Oct 4, 2021 03:30 PM
  • Oct 11, 2021 03:30 PM
  • Oct 18, 2021 03:30 PM
  • Oct 25, 2021 03:30 PM
ECHO Series Registration
Questions and comments can be submitted here

All recordings, resources, and references can be found here
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.
Feds approve Alaska schools plan, releasing final $119 million in COVID education relief
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
The U.S. Department of Education has approved the state of Alaska’s plan for spending more than $358 million in relief funds to help schools recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

About two thirds of the funds were distributed earlier this year. The recent approval of the spending plan releases the rest — about $119 million — to the state.
Students at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School listen to Ray Imel talk about a Makerspace class on the first day of classes in Juneau. Photo: Rashah McChesney/KTOO
“It is a lot of money,” said Deborah Riddle, an operations manager for the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. She handled the fiscal details of the state’s spending plan. “If you were to take the CARES Act funds, and the CRRSSA (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act) funds, those two first pots of money, put those together and then double it.”

School districts are required to spend 20% of the funds on addressing learning loss, but Riddle said districts are also taking advantage of the influx of cash to fund other things too, like building upgrades.

“Ventilation-type activities, replacing windows, (and) working on air quality,” were common expenditures among districts, Riddle said.

NSBA, AASA Issue Joint Statement Calling for End to Threats and Violence Around Safe School Opening Decisions
Nation School Board Association
The National School Boards Association (NSBA) and AASA, The School Superintendents Association, released the following statement in response to increasingly tense public forums and online discussions related to safe school openings amid the enduring COVID-19 pandemic. 

AASA and NSBA: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact everyone, we are concerned with the increasing reports of our members—school superintendents and school board members—who are working to ensure a safe reopening of schools while addressing threats and violence, and being undermined by those who do not agree with their school guidelines for COVID-19 best practices. School leaders across the country are facing threats because they are simply trying to follow the health and scientific safety guidance issued by federal, state, and local health policy experts.”

Chip Slaven, interim executive director and CEO, NSBA: “School board members must be allowed to act in their students’ best interests, or we risk losing the progress we have made. School board members around the country are doing everything they can to keep our students in classrooms and protect them while they are there. They are consulting with health experts, studying state and local caseloads and vaccination rates, and talking to parent and community members about the safest way to have students back in school buildings. School board members are our neighbors. They attend our churches and shop at our grocery stores. They have children in the public education system and share the same concerns as the communities they represent. Doing what’s best for each child in their school district is at the heart of every decision a school board member makes. But for their hard work, school board members, superintendents, principals, teachers and others who work in service to our students are being subjected to online and in-person threats, abuse and harassment. This must stop.”

Chief Donald Honea Sr., original board member of Yukon Koyukuk School District, passes away at 90
Chief Donald Honea, Sr. served as the First Traditional Chief of the Tanana Chiefs Conference region in Interior Alaska. He and his wife Clara McCarty lived in Kokrines living the "old way" - off the land trapping, fishing and using dogs for winter travel.

Chief Honea was also a founder of the Ruby Native Council and Dineega Corporation. He served as president for 20 years of the Dineega Corporation, served on the local Community School Committee for 30 years, served on the City Council for about 25 years, and was both mayor and council member of Ruby.
He also served on the boards of Doyon, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Koyukon Development and RurAL CAP. He was an original board member of the Yukon Koyukuk School District, where he served as chairman.

In addition to his leadership, Chief Honea also was a dog musher and had run the Iditarod Sled Dog Race seven times.

PITAAS scholar Melissa Brooks-Johnson, Named Interim Superintendent for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District
University of Alaska Southeast

Melissa Brooks-Johnson has been appointed as Interim Superintendent for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District. She earned her Superintendent Endorsement in 2017 from the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS). She was also the recipient of a scholarship from the PITAAS program -- Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska’s Schools.

Photo: Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District
State health officials: Masking, vaccines best way to keep kids in school
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News
Masking and vaccinations are the best way to keep children in schools, state health officials said at a virtual session with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The session, produced and facilitated by the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Alaska ECHO Project, was offered in partnership with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the school district to allow KPBSD parents to ask questions of DHSS about the safe return of students to schools.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough, like other regions in the state and across the country, is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant, with about 97% of Alaska’s positive cases sequenced attributed to the variant. The biggest challenge posed by the delta variant is how contagious it is.
Officials with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the State of Alaska participate in an online Q&A session regarding COVID-19 mitigation and the safe return of students to schools.
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink said during a press conference the same night that, for comparison, if someone has influenza, they may spread it to one to two people. If someone has the original strain of COVID-19, they may spread the virus to two and a half people. If someone has the delta variant, they may spread it to between five and eight people. That, Zink said, is making it harder for public health workers to do their job.

School Reopening, By the Numbers — How 100 Top Districts Are (and Aren’t) Adapting: More Vaccine Rules for Teachers and Students, But Few Learning Plans for Quarantined Kids
The 74
President Joe Biden’s push for more employers to require vaccines is likely to accelerate an already-growing trend in schools.
In the past month, the number of states requiring teacher vaccinations has jumped to 10, including the District of Columbia, according to a new analysis we conducted at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. Those include roughly a third (31) of the districts in our review of 100 large and high-profile school systems.

State officials release PEAKS test data
A peek at PEAKS.
Dana Zigmund, Juneau Empire
Count participation in the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools assessment tests as one of the many areas affected by distance learning and the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, most of Alaska’s students in grades three through nine take the exams each spring.
According to a news release from the Department of Education and Early Development, only about 64% of Alaska’s eligible students took the tests in 2021. As a result of the low participation, DEED cautions against comparing 2021 PEAKS data to previous years at the statewide level.

Alaska Native graduate program aims to elevate Indigenous knowledge in fisheries research
Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media
A program focused on bridging the gap between Indigenous knowledge and Western science is entering its second year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It’s called Tamamta, a Yup’ik and Sugpiaq word that means “all of us” or “we”, and it’s part of UAF’s School of Fisheries.

Fisheries professor Courtney Carothers is the faculty member in charge. She says the nine Indigenous graduate students starting their fellowships this year are from all over Alaska, but they’re united by a common goal.

Elizabeth Mik’ Lindley is one of the students in UAF’s Tamamta program, which brings together Indigenous and Western sciences to transform graduate education and research in fisheries and marine sciences. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Mik’ Lindley
Alaska is among 20 states suing over Biden administration school, work, LGBTQ protections
Jonathan Mattise, The Associated Press
Attorneys general from 20 states sued President Joe Biden’s administration Monday seeking to halt directives that extend federal sex discrimination protections to LGBTQ people, ranging from transgender girls participating in school sports to the use of school and workplace bathrooms that align with a person’s gender identity.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, arguing that legal interpretations by the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are based on a faulty view of U.S. Supreme Court case law.

'Devious licks' TikTok trend makes its way to Alaska schools, resulting in dozens of acts of vandalism
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News
Alaska schools are dealing with acts of vandalism related to a trend popularized on the social media platform TikTok, dubbed "devious licks." The trend, which is also being seen in schools across the U.S., encourages students to vandalize and steal school property.
Anchorage School District secondary director Kersten Johnson said the district has had over 75 "licks," from soap and toilet paper dumped on the floor to a sink ripped from the wall. Pegge Erkeneff, a spokeswoman with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, said one middle school and one high school in the district have had to address "licks."

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.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage School Board has unanimously voted to give students priority during public testimony at board meetings.
School board meetings have two time slots set aside for broad public testimony, the first an hour shortly after the beginning of the meeting and the second toward the end of the meeting. The change will allow students to testify during the first hour. School board president Margo Bellamy said board member Carl Jacobs spearheaded the initiative to provide “reasonable access” for all district students.
Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News

With a unanimous vote Tuesday night by the Anchorage School Board, Fairview Elementary School will be renamed the Dr. Etheldra Davis — Fairview Elementary School. Davis was the first Black teacher and principal in the Anchorage School District. Her first principal job was at Fairview Elementary.
Wesley Early, Alaska Public Media

Before this week, if a student was deemed a close contact and not wearing a mask, they would need to quarantine. They were sent home for 10 days and could return to school if the student had no symptoms after the quarantine.
But ASD Superintendent Deena Bishop said the district found problems with that approach. “What we were finding is that, through our own data of the first four weeks, we were asking a lot of healthy students to stay out of school and not have access to their education,” Bishop said.
Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media

It’s her 13th year as a school nurse, and Rogers Park Elementary School nurse Therese Brennan said she’s busier than ever. The coronavirus has transformed her job at the Anchorage School District. As the city wades through its worst coronavirus surge yet, driven by the super contagious delta variant, Brennan has become a go-to source of information for her school’s families.
Tim Ellis, KUAC, Fairbanks

The Denali Borough School District board will again require everyone who enters a district building to wear a face mask to curb the spread of coronavirus. The district school board adopted the policy Tuesday over the opposition of some area residents.School board members voted 7-to-2 to require universal masking, with Kristen Randall and Nikki DeMers dissenting.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News=Miner

It’s slow-going but efforts to find school bus drivers continue with a driver shortage causing 20 to 25 bus routes to be suspended at the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District on any given week.
Amanda Bohman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The school district has enrolled or de-enrolled 225 students between Sept. 3 and Monday. Of those, 104 entered the system and 121 exited, according to an email from Yumi McCulloch, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District's Director Of Public Relations
Dana Zigmund, Juneau Empire

In a unanimous decision, the Juneau School District Board of Education approved a new policy requiring weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated staff members and other people paid by the school, including contractors and school board members. Employees who are vaccinated or have had a documented case of COVID-19 in the past 90 days may opt-out of the weekly screening test. Testing begins the week of Oct. 4. In a second unanimous decision, board members passed a resolution directing Superintendent Bridget Weiss to draft a policy that would allow for surveillance testing of unvaccinated students to help cut down on virus transmission. The district reported 37 positive cases in August and has reported more than 45 as of Sept. 15.
KINY, Juneau

The State of Alaska is working to assist school districts with COVID 19 testing of students to help support the continuation of in-person learning. "The state medical team has been working on procuring antigen test kits, because our coffers as a state, are running low and as COVID goes up, the need for testing goes up and so we are anxiously waiting to hear once they secure those tests," said Juneau School District Superintendent Dr. Bridget Weiss
Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO, Juneau

“The Juneau School District is on Lingít land and the Board of Education honors the people of this land. For more than 10,000 years, Alaska Native people have been and continue to be integral to the well-being of our community. We are grateful to have been welcomed to this place, to be a part of this community supporting the education of all children, including future elders. We honor the culture, traditions,
language and resilience of the Tlingit people. Gunalchéesh!”

Board member Paul Kelly recited the language during a Policy Committee meeting on Wednesday. The committee recommends that the Lingít land acknowledgment be read at the beginning of full board meetings.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

Masking protocols in physical education classes, criteria for determining when a school should move in or out of universal indoor masking requirements and the discontinuation of screening testing for student athletes are all revisions to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s COVID-19 mitigation plan formally presented at a recent Board of Education work session. The revisions come as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Alaska and on the Kenai Peninsula and more than a third of the district’s 42 schools are operating with universal indoor masking for students and staff or are operating remotely.
Ashlyn O'Hara, Homer News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education during their Monday night meeting at Homer High School ratified contracts with teaching and support staff unions and voted to pay school nurses $5 more per hour for at least three years.
Eric Stone, KRBD

Ketchikan’s school board says a draft policy requiring it to consult with local tribal governments is overly broad and should be refined by its policy committee. The draft policy says that the school board and district staff must “take every opportunity” to consult with local Alaska Native tribes. It’s part of a broader effort to give Ketchikan’s federally-recognized tribes more input on local education.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Students in Kodiak public schools did better than average in the statewide assessments taken at the end of last school year, according to results from Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (or PEAKS) that were released earlier this month.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Kodiak Island Borough School District has been making some headway with its staffing shortage, but it still has openings in many areas, according to a report that Assistant Superintendent Geoff Smith presented to the Board of Education earlier this week. Four teachers are currently in the hiring process as they move from substitute status to certificates. Vacancies remain in two other spots, including an elementary school physical education teacher and an English as a Second Language instructor.
Jack Barnwell, Kodiak Daily Mirror

Under a new state program, the Kodiak Island Borough School District is eying a special designation that honors schools supporting military families, according to Superintendent Larry LeDoux. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development launched the Purple Star School designation “to recognize military-friendly schools that show a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.”
Greg Kim, KYUK

In fall of 2020, LKSD hired an education expert to help overhaul its policies and practices for preventing student sexual abuse. Dr. Janet Barry audited the district’s hiring practices, staff trainings, and other areas for sexual abuse prevention. After many improvements made over the past year, she said that the district is in good shape to protect its students.
Greg Kim, KYUK

Nunapitchuk’s Matthew Enoch is the first recipient of the annual Victor Kanrilak Memorial School Community Advocate Award. The award was created to recognize the Lower Kuskokwim School District’s School Community Advocates, who play an important role in fostering a positive environment in the district’s schools.
Greg Kim, KYUK

Bethel City Council will introduce an ordinance to put a police officer in the high school. The position would be funded by the Lower Kuskokwim School District and a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Bethel Chief of Police Richard Simmons said he officer’s primary tasks will be to provide security in the high school and prevent crime. He said that he hopes stationing an officer in the school will give the students a positive example of what a relationship with an officer can look like.
Greg Kim, KYUK

The Lower Kuskokwim School District has received state funds to demolish the Napakiak school building, which sits on the edge of the community’s eroding riverbank. Gov. Mike Dunleavy signed the state budget bill into law on Sept. 15, which includes $3.1 million for the project. Napakiak’s principal said that the school is within 30 feet of the Kuskokwim River during high tide. The building needs to be removed soon to avoid it falling into the river. LKSD Superintendent Kimberly Hankins said that the district plans to demolish the building this academic year.
Miriam Trujillo, KNOM, Nome

To help combat the social drawbacks of isolation during the COVID-19 shutdowns, the Lower Yukon School District implemented a new program for the school year of 2021-2022. Suite 360 addresses emotional and social education in a new, age-appropriate, interactive online program. This Social and Emotional Learning, or SEL program, is the first the school district has ever adopted. SEL programs aim to educate students, staff and parents about the social and emotional challenges children face in the classroom.
Miriam Trujillo, KNOM, Nome

Meghan Hayes presented on the data from last Spring’s test and she had news: The majority of Nome public school students tested below proficiency in both math and language arts. These results, are generally lower than in past years, according to Hayes. Average data is limited, however as Nome has only been using PEAKS for a few years. At the district level, Hayes pointed out that this problem extends further than just the Nome School District. “Not only were our kids under performing, the entire state (was),” Hayes said.
Melinda Munson, The Skagway News

Each year, Skagway School Superintendent Josh Coughran crunches the data as soon as the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development releases test scores. For the fifth year in a row, and the fifth year since the statewide assessment tool, PEAKS, was implemented in Alaska, Skagway School District placed first in math and English Language Arts. The 2021 results showed Skagway significantly ahead of every other Alaska district.
Wrangell Sentinel

Social distancing and masking requirements will continue to stay in place at Wrangell public schools. At the school board meeting on Monday night, Superintendent Bill Burr updated board members on a change in some language in the district’s COVID-19 mitigation plan, but students and staff will still be required to wear masks and stay apart.
Maisie Thomas, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

The Yukon Flats School Board unanimously approved a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for all staff in the district. First Chief Rhonda Pitka confirmed the Tuesday night decision.
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KINY, Juneau

The Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) swim and dive state championships scheduled for Nov. 5-6 have been moved from Juneau to Anchorage after the City and Borough of Juneau and ASAA could not come to agreement on COVID-19 mitigation policies for teams attending.
Ketchikan Daily News

The Ketchikan High School cross country team competed in the Capital City Invitational in Juneau. In addition to Kayhi’s squad, runners from Craig, Gustavus, Haines, Hoonah, Kake, Klawock, Metlakatla, Mt. Edgecumbe, Petersburg, Sitka and Thorne Bay high schools, as well as both Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high schools participated.
Derek Clarkston, Kodial Daily Mirror

A new sport is set to join the varsity lineup at Kodiak High School. In a room of supporters decked in blue sweatshirts with an oversized ‘K’ on the front, the Kodiak Island Borough School District board of education, at a Monday work session, gave its seal of approval for hockey to become a sanctioned sport for the 2021-2022 school year.
Derek Clarkston, Kodial Daily Mirror

Kodiak’s first-ever football game in the Railbelt Conference will have to wait for another week. According to Debbie Rohrer, the Kodiak Island Borough School District activities director, the Bears’ Railbelt opener against North Pole on Friday at Joe Floyd Track and Field has been canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests. 
Greg Kim, KYUK

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is taking extra precautions with indoor sports. The district is requiring that all spectators at indoor sporting events be vaccinated against COVID-19 and masked at all times. Attendees must show proof of vaccination at the door. “Each player on a team may have two vaccinated guests at the event,” said School District Superintendent Kimberly Hankins. Spectators must also sit 6 feet apart from each other if they are not from the same household. And if there is not enough space in the gym for everyone to stay farther apart, site administrators may limit the number of guests further.
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.

- For More Information -

Email Timi Tullis or call 907-463-1660
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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!

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