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.
Special Edition - May 11, 2020
To help keep you informed of rapidly changing new developments, special editions of Commentary will be published weekly through the end of the 2020 school year.
Ray Collins, 1936-2020
A Founder and Longtime Board Member of Iditarod Area School District Passes Away
It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of our friend Ray Collins from this life on April 30.

Ray was instrumental in helping create the REAA school model and served the students of the Iditarod Area School District for 43 years. He was a true public servant and, in addition to the school district, served on fisheries, hunting, and subsistence advisory committees.

As a trained linguist, Ray was passionate about the preservation of indigenous languages. I had the privilege of knowing Ray for over thirty years and was the recipient of his hospitality every time I was in McGrath.
Ray Colliins passed away on Thursday, April 30, three days before his 84th birthday. His service is pending until after the pandemic. 
If I had to sum up my feelings for Ray, it would be with the heartfelt words – “Ray Collins was a kind man who always served others.” We grieve with his family, while at the same time celebrating his life of service.

Norm Wooten
AASB Executive Director
While attending AASB’s 66th Annual Conference this past November, Ray granted an interview in which he discussed the evolution of his 43 years of service and dedication to his school district and the people it serves. Read the transcript of this conversation at the link below.

DEED, DHSS Develop ' Restart and Reentry' Guidance Framework for the 2020-2021 School Year

In partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) has developed Alaska’s ‘Smart Start 2020’ for K-12 Schools, a framework for Alaska’s districts and schools to use to plan for the restart of school for the 2020-2021 school year. Using this framework, DHSS will define and establish the parameters for how schools can safely operate in a low, medium, and high risk environment.

The above graphic illustrates the framework districts and schools will use to plan for the delivery of education. Listed under each primary area are example topics schools and districts will need to address in their plans. Plans can be modular to allow for flexibility in meeting the needs of each school and community’s situation throughout the school year.

DHSS Issues Protocols for Childcare and Summer Day Camps
As part of the Governor's 5 phase plan to reopen Alaska’s economy, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has issued Phase 2 guidelines for the operation of childcare and summer day camps. The guidelines address operational requirements such as social distancing, capacity, hygiene protocols, staffing, cleaning, and disinfecting.
These guidelines are intended to allow people to return to the workforce as much as possible, while still protecting public health.

COVID-19 and Summer Programs
Conference Call Minutes
The Alaska Afterschool Network is working with the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to provide answers and clarification to the questions raised about  State of Alaska Health Mandate 16, Attachment I regarding the operation of Childcare and Day Camps.
May 6 Statewide Conference Call Resources

Next Statewide Conference Call: Thursday May 14th, Noon-1:00 pm
Update to May 6th call and review of resources available to support summer programs.
Conference Number: (571) 317-3116
Participant Code: 336-367-965
Senator Murkowski Launches ' Student Corner with Lisa' to
Answer Student Questions
To all Alaskan students–whether you are in elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or job training–this has been a strange and difficult school year as you have had to transition from learning at school alongside your friends, to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Lisa Murkowski
Many of you may have questions about the pandemic and the federal response to the outbreak and I want to help keep you informed. We are all finding different ways to communicate right now, so to help me connect with you, I’ve launched this page on my website where you can view my video responses to student questions from across the state.

2020 AASB Policy Updates
Tuesday, May 12 at Noon
Lon Garrison will lead a 1-hour webinar showing how to access and download the 2020 AASB Policy Updates. Lon will then facilitate a brief review of the policies and AR's put forward this year and what is required for Boards to adopt and what is recommended. This webinar is for executive administrative assistants, superintendents, and any interested Board member.
Practice Safe Zooming!
These Zoom Security Protocols for setup and hosting will help keep your meetings safe and protect student privacy.

2020-2021 AASB Conference Dates
We've received lots of inquiries about AASB's schedule of upcoming conferences and events.

Here's the latest info.

District Dispatches


COVID-19 school closures have caused credit and learning disruptions.
Some districts are offering additional student support during summer
to address these issues.

What summer education options is your district offering
to assist students with credit recovery and address learning gaps?

Anchorage School District
Deena M. Bishop, Ed.D., Superintendent

Highlights of the planned opportunities for summer are listed below with more detailed information coming soon about registration, schedules, and calendar dates.
High School:
  • Four-week Summer Extension of Fourth Quarter Online:  Students having an F grade in their fourth quarter online courses have the option to work up to four additional weeks to complete their coursework.
  • Credit Recovery:  Students having previously failed a course during high school may retake it through iSchool to recover the credit.
  • Original Course Credit:  Students may take courses for the first time to free up their schedules during the year by completing classes early.
Middle School:
  • Learning and Review Modules using APEX Tutorials: Apex Alaska Tutorials are supplemental curriculum that can be used to make sure students are ready for academics at the next level. Alaska Tutorials also provide extra practice on the topics and state standards with which students may struggle. In addition, students may accelerate their learning if they are ready for more challenging work. APEX Tutorials are ideal for families looking for a structured and rigorous curriculum that adjusts to the individual pace and skills of each student and is monitored by an ASD teacher. ASD Summer APEX Tutorials are offered for students in grades six through eight.
Elementary School:
  • Summer Sign-up and Paper/Pencil Packets:  Families of elementary students will soon receive information with guidance on how to sign up for summer learning opportunities, including how to receive a paper packet of review materials for Reading and Math at the end of the school year. We will make it easy to request follow-up materials through the summer!
  • Paper/Pencil Packet Digital Download:  If you have printing capabilities at home, you may print your own selected materials by simply downloading the digital packets and printing the pages you choose from any grade level.
  • Math and Reading Review and Acceleration:  Families looking for a structured Math and Reading alternative for which most students are familiar may sign up for MathWhizz and Lexia access through the summer. An ASD teacher will monitor students’ progress and touch base with families throughout the program.
  • Acceleration Learning Modules using APEX Tutorials:  Apex Alaska Tutorials are supplemental curriculum that can be used to ensure students are ready for academics at the next level. Students may accelerate their learning if they are ready for more challenging work. Alaska Tutorials also provide extra practice on the topics and state standards with which students may struggle. APEX Tutorials are ideal for families looking for a structured and rigorous curriculum that adjusts to the individual pace and skills of the student and is monitored by an ASD teacher. APEX Tutorials are currently available and will extend through the summer.
  • AKLearns:  The Alaska Department of Education & Early Development offers an online supplemental curriculum for grades K-12 which is free of charge for all Alaska students. Online teachers, outside ASD, are available to support students as they work through the curriculum. Students continue enrollment in their local school. This curriculum is available now through June 30, 2020 for students in grades K-5.
Chatham School District
Bruce Houck, Superintendent
8 weeks, half days.
Well-Being Resources
Being quarantined at home for extended periods can increase the amount of stressors for families, students, and teachers connecting remotely. Here are resources to help.
- Alaska Children's Trust - Pandemic PSAs -
Together We Are Safer Youth Safety during COVID-19

If you are experiencing abuse or neglect, or you suspect a child is in danger

Call 911
Child Abuse Hotline

Social Connections

To Find Resources:

Call 2-1-1
or visit

For Someone To Talk To:


Concrete Supports

To Find Resources:

Call 2-1-1
or visit

For Someone To Talk To:


Talking to Children about COVID-19:
A parent resource by the National Association of School Psychologists.
Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible.
None of this is easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better.

It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking the necessary actions that reduce the risk of illness.

Yale’s most popular class ever is available for free online, and the topic is how to be happier in your daily life
In this course, The Science of Well-Being, you will engage in a series of challenges designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits. As preparation for these tasks, Professor Laurie Santos reveals misconceptions about happiness, annoying features of the mind that lead us to think the way we do, and the research that can help us change. You will ultimately be prepared to successfully incorporate a specific wellness activity into your life.

Education Resources
ACS Provides Free Pubic Access WiFi
at Ten Anchorage and Fairbanks Schools
Through a partnership with Anchorage and Fairbanks North Star Borough school districts, Alaska Communications has set up public hotspots at 10 schools.
Individuals can drive to designated school parking lots and connect from their vehicles for free by opening their WiFi settings and selecting ConnectWithACS. Each hotspot has high-speed capability, up to 1 gig, and can connect 250 devices simultaneously.

The public WiFi hotspots are available at the following locations:

 Anchorage schools
  • Begich Middle School
  • Clark Middle School
  • Hanshew Middle School 
  • Dimond High School
  • Eagle River High School
  • East High School
  • West High School

 Fairbanks schools
  • Pearl Creek Elementary School
  • Ticasuk Brown Elementary School
  • Weller Elementary School

ACS is looking at other locations in the state for additional WiFi hotspots to keep the Alaska community connected during this time of need. For more information p lease contact Heather Cavanaugh, Director of External Affairs and Corporate Communications, by email or call (907) 564-7722.

Coronavirus Information and Resources
DHSS Alaska Coronavirus Response Hub

The AK COVID-19 Dashboard from Alaska DHSS provides information, maps and resources about the coronavirus response in your local area. All data are updated daily at noon.

NEW Coronavirus Resources for Districts
Frequently updated resources for boards, administrators, educators, parents and families. The latest coronavirus information from state and national health organizations.
NEW Resources for Parents and Educators with Students at Home
An ever growing list of ideas and materials to support teachers, parents, and caregivers in search of ways to deliver instruction and daily activities to students learning remotely at home.
NEW Alaska Coronavirus Newsfeed
A summary of statewide Alaska media coverage
of the coronavirus pandemic impact. Updated daily.
On-Demand Webinars
AASB webinars for School Boards and Educators on conducting meetings and delivering instruction online, plus these other AASB webinar resources:
Internet Service Providers
NEW ACS Provides Free Pubic Access WiFi at Ten Anchorage and Fairbanks Schools, looking for other locations in the state. More Information

Special offers for new or upgraded service for the remainder of the school year from ISPs, including ACS , ASTAC , GCI , KPU , MTA , and 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Federal & State Government 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.
Rural Education Updates from the U.S. Department of Education
Highlights of opportunities, events, news, and other information relevant to rural schools and communities.
Small, Rural School Achievement Program Application and Performance Period Extensions

In recognition of the widespread school closures faced by school districts nationwide due to COVID-19, the Department has extended the deadline for eligible school districts to submit applications for FY 2020 Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA) funding. The Department will now accept SRSA applications until the end of the day on May 15, 2020.

In addition, in order to increase flexibility for  SRSA  grantees, the Department has extended the performance period for all SRSA grants awarded in FY 2019, and all subsequent SRSA awards, by an additional 12 months.

Education Innovation and Research Program Mid-Phase Grants

The Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations to improve student achievement and attainment for high-need students; and rigorously evaluate such innovations. The EIR program is designed to generate and validate solutions to persistent education challenges and to support the expansion of those solutions to serve substantially larger numbers of students. The Department must use at least 25 percent of EIR funds for a fiscal year to make awards to applicants serving rural areas, contingent on receipt of a sufficient number of applications of sufficient quality.  The Application Deadline is June 15, 2020 .

Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program

The Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program provides funding to increase the number of highly effective educators by supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices that prepare, develop, or enhance the skills of educators. These grants will allow eligible entities to develop, expand, and evaluate practices that can serve as models to be sustained and disseminated.  The Application Deadline is June 12, 2020.

Extended Application Deadline for Office of Indian Education Formula Grant 

In recognition of the widespread school closures nationwide due to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Department has extended the application deadlines for the Office of Indian Education (OIE) Formula Grant to Local Educational Agencies. The application deadline is now June 19, 2020.

U.S. Department of Education Guidance: Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund)
Deborah Rigsby, National School Boards Association
The U.S. Department of Education has posted guidance for state education agencies and school districts, titled “Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund).”

According to the Department, this “document seeks to answer questions that are not easily understood from a plain reading of Section 18003 and other parts of the CARES Act or the ESSER Fund Certification and Agreement (C&A). It was developed in direct response to questions that the Department has received from SEA and LEA grant administrators implementing the ESSER Fund program.”

Please note that the guidance includes a technical appendix (beginning on page 7) that outlines how subgrants to school districts /charter schools are to be calculated. The areas addressed by this guidance include supplement not supplant (question 20), eligibility of local education agencies (question 12), and flexibility for school districts regarding the use of ESSER funds (question 15).

Relevant to question 20, this guidance states that the “program does contain a Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirement [to be explained in a separate set of Frequently Asked Questions], which is designed to keep States from substantially reducing their support for K-12 education.” The guidance does not include any new information about equitable services to students who are enrolled in private schools.

Governor Forms Teacher Recruitment and Retention Working Group
Alaska has long been plagued with high teacher turnover rates and an inability to attract and retain quality teachers in some remote parts of the state.

Governor Dunleavy has instructed Commissioner of Education Michael Johnson to assemble a working group made up of teachers, administrators, and others to review the root causes of Alaska's retention and recruitment issues, including reviewing working conditions and benefits. The Commissioner, with the assistance of the working group, will develop a plan that addresses these issues.
The group will meet over the coming months to:

  • Take an evidence-based approach by first reviewing existing research on retention, turnover, and recruitment of educators in Alaska.
  • Review new research conducted via interviews with educators leaving their schools, districts, and the state, with a focus on understanding how those interviewed prioritize issues.
  • Consider the new evidence within the context of existing research to develop recommendations that can be enacted to address this systemic long-term issue.
  • Make recommendations by December 1, 2020, shared via a report, as well as regular updates throughout the process.

AASB Executive Director Norm Wooten has accepted Commissioner Johnson's invitation to serve as an advisor to the Governor’s Teacher Retention and Recruitment Working Group.
Recruitment opportunities dry up, teachers back out as districts look to hire for fall
Mayowa Aina, Alaska Public Media
It’s hiring season for school districts across the country. While students prepare for graduation and summer vacation, administrators are focusing on filling anticipated job vacancies for the upcoming school year. But, the pandemic is making it difficult to recruit teachers to the state, especially in rural Alaska.
Children play on the sea ice in Diomede, Alaska on March 13, 2013. Photo: Lauren Holmes
Bobby Bolen is the superintendent of the Bering Strait School District, home to 15 schools in Northwest Alaska surrounding Nome, with just under 2,000 students.

Normally right now, Bolen and other staff members would be at recruitment fairs across the country looking for teachers willing to sign up for the ultimate Alaska adventure.
Bolen said he had already been to job fairs in Missouri and Iowa, and was scheduled to attend about 30 others across the country just as the pandemic settled in.

“That’s kind of our way to sell our district is face to face,” he said. “Talk about Alaska, talk about the unique experiences you can get in rural communities.” Not only did those face-to-face opportunities to recruit disappear, teachers that were hired, are starting to back out.

Under Dunleavy’s new CARES Act distribution, rural boroughs will get
more funding
Wesley Early, KOTZ
Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday amended how much money municipalities would get from the $1.5 billion that Alaska received in the federal CARES Act. Three Alaska boroughs would get considerably more funding under the new distribution plan.

When Dunleavy signed this year’s budget, it came with  a whole slew of line-item vetoes that he said could be made up from federal COVID-19 relief money. He’s since walked back that sentiment. During a news conference Monday, he said he originally believed that the money could be used to make up for revenue shortcomings.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks about the state’s COVID-19 response from the Atwood Building in Anchorage on Monday.
Photo: Governor’s office
Under  his original distribution plan, the Northwest Arctic Borough would have received a total of $1.2 million in community assistance from the CARES Act. Borough mayor Lucy Nelson says that amount was considerably less than what the region normally gets from the state.

Ghosts of 1918 pandemic haunt Bering Straits villages as they face COVID-19 without water or sewer
Jojo Phillips, KNOM, Nome
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended every person across the country  wash their hands regularly throughout the day to prevent the spread of germs. Some in rural Alaska, without running water, are left asking: How?

“That’s easier said than done,” said Frank Oxereok Jr., the mayor of Wales, a small coastal community with a population just under of 200. That’s because his village doesn’t have running water. Wales relies on nearby streams for water and uses honey-buckets to dispose of their sewage in a local lagoon.

Mayor of Wales Frank Oxereok
and Senator Lisa Murkowski
on 4-wheelers as they tour the community. Photo: Geoff Koss, 2019
What Alaskans learned from ‘the mother of all pandemics’ in 1918
Pablo Arauz Peña, KTOO - Juneau
It’s October 1918 in Juneau, and the future of Alaska depends on which comes first — winter or the so-called Spanish flu.
At that time the flu had already been ravaging the outside world, infecting one-third of the global population. It added to the tragic loss of human life in World War I, which was about to end. When it was all over, records show at least 50 million total deaths from the flu worldwide.

Alaska Territorial Governor Thomas Riggs Jr. had read reports of Spanish flu infections and over 350 deaths in Seattle. He asked all steamship companies to inspect passengers for symptoms and to not allow any sick passengers on board.
The so-called Spanish flu in 1918-1919 killed more than half of adults and Elders in villages across Alaska. Here, two orphans who survived the pandemic are near Bristol Bay. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Archives via Kathryn Ringsmuth and the Alaska Packers Association)
But despite the community’s best efforts, the first influenza case in Alaska was reported in Juneau on Oct. 14, 1918 — before winter stopped ships from coming.

Alaska Education 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.
Students in rural Alaska struggle with distance learning
Taylor Clark, KTUU
Some time remains before the school year is over, and teachers are still getting used to learning from home methods. Alaska's more urban communities, while challenged, have an easier time getting connected to the internet, but out in the rural villages the task has proven to be a struggle.
Photo: KTUU
In the Bering Strait School District, Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bolen said his teachers are managing with limited resources. He said only about 5 percent of the students in his district have enough internet connectivity to make online courses a viable option.

In his district and several others, administrators have instead opted to send work packets out to the students. Bolen said most students have enough service to turn in their work by taking a picture of it and sending it to their teachers via email or text message. He said connecting to internet and getting digital data isn't impossible in his district, but between the price people have to pay for internet in the villages and slow speeds of that service, they knew they needed to figure out a different method.

ANSEP students in rural Alaska adjust to distance learning challenges
Scott Gross, KTVA
For many students from rural Alaska, adjusting to the education setting away from home can be a challenge. But once settled in, many students flourish in their new surroundings, especially those in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP.
Photo: KTVA
The ANSEP program began about 25 years ago as a way to increase the success of Alaska native students coming into STEM fields, says ANSEP Chief Operating Officer Tashina Duttle.

ANSEP serves students in middle school through college with hands-on activities and study groups. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way students learn, and presented a plethora of new challenges for students from rural Alaska, who chose to go home and try distance learning.

"Connectivity has been a challenge," Duttle noted. "The internet speeds are not conducive to the Zoom meetings. We have some students that join for audio only, because it's not easy to jump on and have that video content streaming."

Homer High School to provide drive-through graduation
Megan Pacer, Homer News
Seniors preparing to graduate Homer High School in less than two weeks will still get to cross a stage to receive their diplomas — there just won’t be anyone there to hand it to them.

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Homer High School is providing an outdoor, drive-through graduation ceremony for the class of 2020.
“It’s going to be kind of a drive-in theatre,” said Principal Doug Waclawski. Homer High’s graduation is set for 7 p.m. Monday, May 18.
Homer High School
Homer News file photo
The school plans to put the stage around the flag poles in front of the school building. Graduates, along with their family members, will drive up to the stage one by one in vehicles. The graduates will exit the vehicles, walk across the stage and grab their diploma, which will be placed on a table by a staff member who will then need to back at least 6 feet away.

The event will be streamed live on either the high school’s Facebook page or YouTube channel, Waclawski said. KBBI Public Radio will also broadcast the ceremony, he said. There will also be drone footage of the event.

Waclawski said the actual ceremony is not for the public, just graduates and their family members. To adhere to social distancing mandates from the state, the school will have to keep vehicles spaced out in the parking lot, and there’s just not enough room to accommodate the public, Waclawski said.

Nome Public Schools Graduation Parade
NBHS will hold a graduation parade and ceremony on May 20th beginning at 6:30pm. All graduates of NBHS, Extensions Correspondence Program, Mt Edgecumbe, and any Alaska Homeschooling program are welcome to participate.
Parade: Graduates will be riding in vehicles in their caps and gowns through town starting at the Rec Center and ending at the NBHS parking lot. All residents of Nome are encouraged to come out to porches and sidewalks and cheer the residents as they pass by. The parade will be accompanied by lights and sirens courtesy of NPD and the Nome Volunteer Fire Department. Any residents who wish to view the ceremony may park in the parking lot but MUST STAY IN THEIR VEHICLES DURING THE ENTIRE CEREMONY.

Ceremony: The ceremony will be simultaneously broadcast over KICY and KNOM. Speeches from the valedictorian/salutatorian and the graduation speaker(s) will be broadcast over the radio. Each graduating senior will be introduced over the radio, then may proceed to the stage and receive their diplomas. Only immediate families of the graduate may exit vehicles to take photos (social distancing will be strictly enforced), then must return to their vehicles. NBHS Graduates will walk first, then Extensions graduates. Graduates from MEHS and other Alaska homeschooling programs may also walk and have photos taken (no diplomas will be given).

We are so proud of our seniors and their achievement, and wish to recognize them and celebrate them the best way we know how!
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District graduation marches on
Kyrie Long, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
As May arrives, so does high school graduation season, and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is moving forward with plans for largely pre-recorded ceremonies.

Courtesy Ben Eielson
High School
What it’s like to graduate from UAA during a global pandemic
Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media
If University of Alaska Anchorage senior Alex Jorgensen had to pick one word to describe what it’s like to graduate during a global pandemic, he’d say, “anticlimactic.”

“This is a big milestone in my life. I worked really hard for the past five years to earn this degree,” said Jorgensen, who’s graduating with his bachelor’s in political science.

“And now, it’s just, there’s no ending point,” he said. “It just slowly diffuses into the rest of the 60 years of my adult life. There’s no transition.”

University of Alaska Anchorage seniors Alex Jorgensen and Clare Baldwin recently recorded their commencement speech in front of a camera at UAA to be posted online for the virutal celebration on May 3. Photo courtesy Alex Jorgensen.
UAF to look at students’ core GPA rather than College Board aptitude tests
Kyrie Long, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused standardized testing to be pushed back, rescheduled and canceled over the past few months, testing requirements for higher education are being waived for incoming students.

University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. Photo: Eric Engman
Alaska, Interrupted, Episode 5: Prom. Is. Canceled.
Alaska Public Media staff
In this Alaska, Interrupted episode, we hear from two high school students about what it’s like to be stuck at home without classes or classmates.

Sam Snyder is finishing his junior year at Eagle River High School, where he’s a competitive soccer player, and Katie McKenna is a senior, track team member and student council president at Juneau-Douglas High School in Southeast Alaska.

Sam Snyder, 17, hasn’t been allowed within six feet of his girlfriend because of social distancing guidelines adopted to contain the spread of the coronavirus. So he washed her car, with her inside it. “She couldn’t, like, have the windows down or anything. My parents are pretty strict about following the mandate right now,” he said. Photo: Dave Snyder
Anchorage schools reunite students with pencil boxes, light-up sneakers and other left-behind possessions
Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News
Three schoolteachers — Hali Tuomi, Kirstin Barboza and Kristen Kangas — all wearing colorful cloth face masks, gloves and sunglasses, stood in front of Sand Lake Elementary School on Tuesday, waving hello to families of students driving up.

A black vehicle rolled into the lot and the passenger, Rina Cruz, held up to the window a piece of white paper scrawled with the names of her son and her son’s teacher.
Sand Lake Elementary teachers Kirstin Barboza and Kristen Kangas helped gather student belogings on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Bill Roth
That set off a chain reaction: After squinting to read the name, the teachers radioed in the order.
Then, a group of Sand Lake employees inside the school relayed the child’s belongings from where they sat among hundreds of other bags cluttering the gymnasium floor in organized piles and rows.

A moment later, another school employee emerged from the school, carrying a plastic bag brimming with Cruz’s son’s belongings.

After hours of public comment, Mat-Su school board’s vote to rescind book removal is pushed to later this month
Tegan Hanlon, Alaska Public Media
The Mat-Su Borough School Board was scheduled on Wednesday to reconsider its controversial decision to pull five books from the reading list for high school English elective classes. But, it ran out of time, and voted against extending the meeting, following hours of public testimony.
Photo: Tegan Hanlon
The school board will now decide later in May whether to rescind its vote to remove the books, including “The Great Gatsby,” “Catch-22” and “Invisible Man.” Its initial decision in late April to pull the novels from the reading list of the upper-level English classes sparked outrage, drew national attention to the school district and led to an offer from the band Portugal. The Man to send the books to any student in the school district who wanted to read them.

“This was placed back on the agenda because of the difficulties we’re having with COVID, the inability for the community to speak and also, in light of the previous vote, information has been brought forth that needs to be considered,” said board president Tom Bergey during Wednesday’s meeting.

Educators react to School Bond Debt Reimbursement veto
Tim Rockey, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
For the second of each of his two years in office, Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed School Bond Debt Reimbursement funds headed toward the Mat-Su Borough. This year, $16 million of funding was vetoed from the state funded portion of the Borough budget, and educators called in to each of the three budget public hearings by the Assembly to ask the Assembly not to hand the $16 million burden off to the Mat-Su Borough School Board School district.
Mat-Su Mayor Vern Halter
Photo: Tim Rockey
“We already have the largest class sizes in the state and have trouble attracting educators to the Valley. Please continue your support of our schools,” said Dianne Shibe.

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

On-Demand AASB Webinars
- AASB WEBINAR - School Law Basics
Lon Garrison (AASB) and education attorney  John Sedor (Sedor, Evans, Wendlandt & Filippi)  as they discuss the basics of local, state and federal laws that affect school boards and the districts they serve. Webinar | Slideshow

- AASB WEBINAR - Working With Your Community
Claudia Plesa and Tyler Breen host this webinar on how your Board—and you as a Board member—can work more effectively with your community to improve student success. Webinar | Slideshow

- AASB WEBINAR - Distance Teaching with Zoom
In this "office hours" session Professor Megan Gahl and AASB staff answer questions and hear teacher insights on how to keep students engaged while teaching online. Discussion Notes

- AASB WEBINAR - Tips for Engaging Learners From a Distance
In this educator-focused webinar, Professor Megan Gahl, Heather Coulehan and Emily Ferry provide an overview of Zoom basics and best practices, and engagement in online classrooms. Webinar & Resources | Distance Learning Tips and Tools guide

- AASB WEBINAR - Holding Your Meeting Remotely
In this board-focused webinar, Lon Garrison and Timi Tullis provide an overview of what board members need to know to hold successful remote meetings.
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 907-321-4758
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