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News and Updates

Legislative Report to Board (March 17, 2016)

The Session has been difficult and a bit grim for education, but there remain some glimmers of hope. Unwillingness of the Majorities in the Senate and House to consider meaningful revenue options argues for an outcome that is likely to depend for the most part on a continued drawdown of savings and additional cuts to the budget that may fall most heavily on our rural members. At present it appears as though the Legislature will either decide to replicate an end-of-Session process like this past year where the House Minority granted use of the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) in exchange for some returning of education dollars to the budget, or will decide to take more drastic budget cutting measures and draw from the earnings reserve account (impacting future dividend checks). It is unclear which process is likely to prevail, though it appears that moves to keep the BSA increase proposed by the Governor, Parents as Teachers and Best Beginnings (in the Senate Operating budget) and the proposed TRS deposit bill (see below) are all designed to put pressure on the House Minority to leverage the CBR vote.

Meanwhile we continue to fight for our issues (full legislative report)

Ed Connector (March 17, 2016)

Four hundred users representing 51 of Alaska’s school districts are accessing hundreds of tools from a myriad of sources, at their fingertips; all organized into topic areas searchable by any key phrase. School administrators are getting answers to their questions from peers across the state while building collaborative strategies.

Search from over 43 peer rated service organizations; hear what other district’s experience has been before contracting out or purchasing a new system. Rate and share your vendor experience so every district can benefit.

Ed Connector has over 700 resources and tools waiting for you; developed right here in Alaska by peers across the state. Get notifications on specific new tools as they are added; select from the growing topics. Share your district wide initiatives and get connected with other districts working on similar efforts.

Contact Lora Jorgensen: for more information or to sign up for your account today.

Spring 2016 Board Meeting - 3/17/16

Please make sure your calendars are marked. Coalition for Education Equity/CEAAC will hold its spring board meeting in Anchorage on Thursday, March 17, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Hotel Captain Cook in conjunction with the Alaska Teacher Placement job fair. A call-in option will be provided.

Legislative report (February 28, 2016)

Last week was a rough week in Juneau for education, made no easier by the loss of strong education advocate Representative Max Gruenberg (D- Anchorage) who passed away February 14.

We did manage to work with other advocates and get the Governor to reinstate $2 million for PreK and nearly $1 million for Early Childhood Education in his proposed FY17 budget. But nearly as soon as these gains were made, the House and Senate Finance Education subcommittees removed the funding – and much more besides. At one point Representative Gattis suggested eliminating DEED entirely.

On the Senate side there is now a great deal of talk that the Senate will not approve any revenue enhancements to the budget. This means that the Senate will have to fund the entire budget from the Earnings Reserve account. While this is clearly unwise from a fiscal standpoint, it is also unwise from a political standpoint. However, part of the reason for this stand is that this would eliminate the need for the Majorities to negotiate with the House Minority – which holds the keys to the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR) funds. Recall that it was the House Minority that secured a hold-harmless to education, Pre K and Early Childhood Education funding, University funding and other elements of last year’s budget process that were essential to our members. If the Senate’s position stands, not only will it remove our last safety valve for holding the line on education funding, it will set us up for a very, very difficult year next year as there will simply be no funds left to draw on to fund the bulk of the operating budget. If it does come back to a vote to use the CBR, we are assured that education will be protected to the best of the Minority’s ability, but the present direction of the Senate is a cause for great concern.

It is imperative that all of our members encourage their Boards, parents, and professional staff (and their lobbyists if they have them) to contact Majority Members of the Senate and encourage them to 1) support education funding at the Governor’s proposed level and 2) support revenue efforts to stabilize our economic environment.

The Governor has proposed over $100 million in cuts. We are not talking about increasing funds, we are talking about maintaining a viable, meaningful, and constitutional education system.

On the capital side we remain optimistic that we will be able to access the REAA Rural Schools Fund for at least the next two schools on the list that are eligible for those resources. We continue to work for this and the final installment for the Kivalina school.

On one final note, it was great seeing many of you who were in Juneau for the ASA meeting and I look forward to seeing you at our March 17th Board meeting in Anchorage.

- Tom Begich

Pre-Kindergarten/Early Childhood Funding (February 12, 2016)

As we reported in December, when the Governor presented his proposed budget, funding for Pre-K had been zeroed out. At that time, we sent a letter to the Governor thanking him for his support for many of our education priorities in his proposed FY17 budget, but urging him to reconsider the elimination of pre-K funding. We have also been working behind the scenes with the House Minority who have led the effort to restore this funding. We expect to see a positive announcement next week from the Governor, proposing an amendment to his budget that should seek to restore much of this funding. Of course, being in the Governor's budget doesn't guarantee legislative support, so we have much yet to do.

Kasayulie and Kivalina (February 12, 2016)

The Senate Finance Committee is resisting our and the administration's interpretation of the final funding due Kivalina under the Kasayulie consent decree. We will continue to remind the Senate of their obligation to fund Kivalina and honor all elements of the consent decree.

New Commissioner of DEED (February 12, 2016)

We had a good conversation with Mike Hanley and remain grateful for the positive working relationship we've developed with DEED over his tenure. He introduced me to the Interim Commissioner, Dr. Susan McCauley and we were able to meet to discuss the ongoing priorities of the Coalition for Education Equity/CEAAC and how we could continue to work together. Coalition for Education Equity/CEEAC was also invited by the Lieutenant Governor to submit names for potential candidates for the commissioner appointment. For now, we emphasized the importance of selecting a commissioner who 1) is or has been a superintendent in Alaska, 2) has experience or a clear understanding of the needs and challenges of rural districts, 3) classroom teaching experience. If you have additional qualities you would like considered, or specific candidates in mind, please let me know as soon as possible and we will forward this information to the State Board of Education and the Lt. Governor's office. It appears that there is an interest to move quickly on this.

Next Visit to Juneau (February 12, 2016)

I enjoyed meeting with some of our members in Juneau - it is helpful for us to learn about your individual legislative priorities so that we can identify areas where we can assist you. I also had a great meeting with Dr. Lisa Parady, executive director of the Alaska Council of School Administrators and we are looking forward to finding ways to work together on common priorities. I will be back in Juneau for the ASA Fly-In February 20-23 and look forward to seeing many of you there. Please send me a note if you'd like to schedule some one-on-one time. I'd love the opportunity to talk with you.

End of January Legislative Update (1/28/16)

January is nearing its end and the Legislature is just getting started, but already we have some movement on significant issues. According to Legislative staff and Legislators from Western Alaska, the effort to increase the minimum school enrollment for schools is now dead. We will continue to monitor the issue, but I am confident that it’s a non-starter at this point.

While the Governor’s budget proposals initially received a bit of a cold shoulder from the House and Senate Majorities, it now seems as though all parties are working towards some form of budget compromise. The House Minority remains a player at the table and is advocating strongly for a restoration of Pre K Funds, another of our priorities.

The Finance committees have not yet reviewed or seriously addressed the Capital Budget, but we will be watching closely to see how they react to both our final Kivalina (and Kasayulie) appropriation, in the Governor’s budget and efforts to use REAA Schools Funds for Major Maintenance (something we are on record of supporting).

Finally, we have reached out to the State Board of Education to present our EdConnector program and also are in conversations with the Commissioner of DEED on how we might get involved with the State Board’s strategic plan – mentioned in the Governor’s State of the State speech.

It is going to be a tough year, with some difficult budget decisions to be made, but we will be vigilant in our defense of our education initiatives. If you are coming to Juneau, let me know as, if I am there, I would be happy to introduce you around as appropriate.

- Tom Begich, Coalition for Education Equity Government Relations Director

Legislative Session Begins (January 19, 2016)

Coalition for Education Equity Government Relations Director, Tom Begich, heads down to Juneau this week to fight for our legislative priorities: countering renewed threats to our small schools, preventing cuts to pre-k and education funding in general, and staving off any unfair rewrite of the foundation formula. At the same time, we need to improve our ability to use the state resources we effectively fought for to cover our school construction and major maintenance needs. We will be working to ensure that the funding of the final Kasayulie Settlement school is completed and will continue our efforts to see that the Rural School Construction Fund may be used for major maintenance projects in the future. Please let us know if your district has additional priorities that you would like Tom to follow.

NEW Coalition for Education Equity Logo (January 19, 2016)

At our November 2015 meeting, the Coalition for Education Equity/CEAAC board approved its new logo, with a few minor changes requested, which have been completed. Take a look at the new logo below, which has been added to our website. Now in the works are new communications materials that reflect the new name and logo, and a plan to roll out the new name to our members, partners, and the general public. This will include a Coalition for Education website at our new domain address (coming soon). Stay tuned!


Ed Connector continues to grow (January 19, 2016)

With over 320 users, representing 48 of the state’s school districts, Ed Connector is focused on providing customized systems for users with diverse administrative roles. In late December, Ed Connector launched its new Private Group function: A dedicated space for peer groups of school administrators to dialogue and problem-solve critical issues. Here, superintendents will find a different network of peers than principals or school business officials. In total we have created 18 different communities within Ed Connector to serve a wide range of specialties, from student activities to IT to facilities and operations.

A new section has also been added to the private group discussion area, Q & A. Questions posted to the Q & A section will trigger a separate and immediate email notification to all group members as well as inform members of the actual question posted. This allows users immediate connection to peers who may have an answer to the question.

These new enhancements are only part of Ed Connector’s FREE tools. Users will find more than 600 school improvement resources, over 35 peer-rated vendors, and timely conversations on crucial topics with colleagues from around state.

If you haven’t set up your account yet, simply contact our director, Lora Jorgensen at or (907) 786-5437 (wk) or (907) 830-4180 (cell).

Alaska Supreme Court ruling in the Ketchikan Borough school funding case
(January 8, 2016)

You've likely seen the news that the Alaska Supreme Court ruled January 8 in the Ketchikan Borough school funding case. As you know, CEAAC filed an amicus brief in opposition to the Ketchikan Borough's suit, which would have removed more than $220 million from Alaska school funding - much of that loss coming from rural school budgets. You can read the amicus brief on our website here.

While the news is mostly good, there are still some issues we'll need to keep an eye on. Please see below for Coalition for Education Equity/CEAAC attorney, Howard Trickey's summary of the decision.

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The Alaska Supreme Court issued a decision today in the Ketchikan Borough school funding case. We are pleased that the Court agreed with us and the State that the trial judge erred and that the local contribution for school funding does not violate the Anti-Dedication Clause.

Justice Bolger wrote the opinion, with concurring opinions from Chief Justice Stowers and Justice Winfree.

The main emphasis of the opinion is on the history of school funding prior to statehood, and how that history, coupled with the minutes of the constitutional convention, demonstrates that Alaska’s constitutional delegates intended for local communities and the State to share responsibility for funding local schools. The Court found that this shared responsibility was based on the Education Clause, Article VII, Section 1. CEAAC advanced this argument as a constitutional basis for funding the RLC constitutionally.

The opinion tracks the history of school funding in Alaska from prior to statehood through modern times. It concludes that the current regime of local-state funding is a continuation of the same basic framework for a “local cooperative program” that has existed since statehood. Because the Anti-Dedication Clause expressly exempted dedications that existed prior to statehood, the Court finds the local contribution to be an allowable mandate.

The opinion also distinguishes all of the Court’s prior anti-dedication cases, explaining why none control the outcome of this dispute. We were heartened to see that this portion of the opinion largely tracks arguments we advanced in our amicus brief.

The Court also agreed that because the local contribution involves local moneys that never enter state coffers, the required local contribution is not an “appropriation” and does not conflict with the governor’s veto clause.

An interesting but potentially worrisome aspect of the decision is the concurring opinion of Justice Winfree, and to some degree the separate concurrence by Justice Stowers. These two justices both focus on the Public Education Clause of Article VII, Section 1. They question whether that clause creates a constitutional requirement for the State, and the State alone, to provide adequate funding for public schools. And, if so, whether it would violate the Anti-Dedication Clause for the State to essentially pass this obligation off on local communities. Justice Winfree indicates that if presented with a case that made such an argument, he might well be convinced that the required local contribution is unconstitutional, but that he is not willing to reach that conclusion today based on the arguments made by the Ketchikan Borough and the State in this case (neither party wanted to address Article VII’s public education requirement).

The bottom line is that today’s decision restores the status quo for public education funding in Alaska. The decision, however, creates an opening for future litigation about the interplay between the Public Education Clause and the Anti-Dedication Clause, and suggests at minimum that some of the justices have unresolved questions about that interplay. This suggests a continued need for our interests to remain active in school funding policy with the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the state government.

Howard Trickey

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Governor's proposed FY17 Budget has some good wins for Coalition for
Education Equity/CEAAC (December 10, 2015)

Governor Walker released his fiscal plan and proposed FY17 budgets on
December 9. There is some good news for our membership. Here is an update
from Government Relations Director Tom Begich:

Today the Governor announced his new budget and, while the budget is
austere and proposes wide-ranging changes to how we pay for government, it
does not do so by attacking school construction.  For the past few years
the Coalition for Education Equity/CEAAC has advocated for funding for
major maintenance, the completion of the Kasayulie Schools commitment, and
an end to the roadblock that unfunded general fund school construction
potentially presents to use of the REAA School Construction Fund. We are
pleased that the Governor has heard our call.  His budget will include the
final funding for Kivalina School (the last of the Kasayulie schools);
will fund the Kachemak Selo school (thus removing the block that this
school presents to use of the REAA Fund); and provides for $10 Million in
Major Maintenance to keep our schools from further deteriorating.  These
are big items and the Governor's staff has acknowledged that our efforts
are a significant reason these items are in the budget.  However, just
because they are in the budget does not mean that they will be secured.
There is a lot of work between now and the end of session - such as
working to save the pre-K funds and sustain the proposed BSA increase -
and we will have our hands full fighting to keep these items in the final
budget.  Alaska deficits are huge, and only getting larger, but the
Governor has recognized that we can't burn down our education house to
keep ourselves warm.  More to follow as we get into the Session next month
and get a sense of the Legislative mood, but for now, at least on our
Capital agenda, we have a good start.

Farewell CEAAC, from your outgoing executive director (November 21, 2015)

From Charles Wohlforth: I was very grateful for the board's recognition at our fall meeting on November 4. It has been a great five years as your executive director. Working together, we settled the Moore and Kasayulie suits, bringing more than $200 million to school construction and $18 million to programs for schools; we passed the Residential Learning Center legislation and got it funded by the legislature; we created and funded the Ed Connector; we started the Educator Quality and Quantity Project, winning agreement for a plan for improved educator recruitment and training from all stakeholders; we created the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship and supported many students; and we won a series of legislative victories, publicly and privately, to help rural schools and struggling students everywhere.

For me, the time came to return to my career as a writer. My column in Alaska Dispatch News will begin running three times a week next weekend. For CEAAC, the time was right for a new leader. In that respect, I am delighted that the board hired Sarah Sledge. When she returns from vacation next month, Sarah will become your new executive director, and will provide you will your regular updates. I wish the best to CEAAC and to Sarah. I know you will continue to be a critical part of creating education equity in Alaska.

CEAAC Challenges Constitutionality of Small School Closure (November 2, 2015)

ANCHORAGE—A proposal to close small schools by raising the minimum size for full state funding is unconstitutional, according to a legal opinion obtained by a coalition of education supporters with a track record of winning constitutional education cases in Alaska courts.
Representative Lynn Gattis recently announced a plan to stop full funding for schools with fewer than 25 students, although she said she might choose a different number, higher or lower, at some later date. Increasing the minimum school size from 10 to 25 would close 60 schools statewide, but would save only $5.9 million from a budget deficit of $3.7 billion, or 1 tenth of 1%. Gattis, a writer of the education budget in the State House, has said cost is the only reason for proposing the change and offered no research on the educational impact.
CEAAC (pronounced See-Ack) is a coalition of 20 school districts and education advocates formed to counter earlier unconstitutional attacks on Alaska education. The group was victorious in two major constitutional lawsuits, the Kasayulie and Moore cases, which resulted in settlements with the State of Alaska worth over $200 million. CEAAC holds a constitutional defense fund to support legal work when the constitutional right to education is threatened.
CEAAC Attorney Howard Trickey, who led CEAAC’s legal team in the earlier cases, wrote a legal opinion indicating that Gattis’s proposal would be subject to constitutional challenge. The Moore case established that Alaska’s constitution requires the state to provide students a meaningful opportunity to achieve education standards. Denying that opportunity selectively to children in small communities would violate the equal protection clause.
“The only environment that would likely meet the state’s constitutional obligation is one in which students have a chance to learn in a classroom with a teacher rather than being left to teach themselves,” Trickey said. “Nothing replaces the learning opportunity that direct, in-person communication provides. There is no evidence that on-line learning or shipping students away from their families will meet this constitutional obligation.”
Trickey’s opinion is linked here.


Fall meeting details (October 17, 2015)

CEAAC will hold its fall board meeting on Nov. 4 at the Hilton Anchorage, in the Dillingham Room. We gather at 5:30 and dinner will be served. This is before the Alaska Association of School Boards meeting, and members should consider bringing school board members to our CEAAC meeting. The continuing strength of CEAAC depends on their support, too.

Please RSVP to so we know how many meals to order.

Membership renewals have been excellent this year, but a few districts have not yet paid their dues. It would be ideal to have all those checks in before our meeting.

Executive director hiring (October 17, 2015)

The Nov. 4 meeting will be an important one for CEAAC, when you select a new Executive Director. The position closes on October 19 at 5pm. The selection committee is chaired by our president, Kerry Boyd. Other members include Annmarie O'Brien, Norma Holmgaard, Lora Jorgensen, and Charles Wohlforth. The committee plans to complete interviews by October 30 and to present its top candidate at the fall meeting.

CEAAC searches for new executive director (September 28, 2015)

From Charles Wohlforth: I’ve had a fascinating and productive five years as executive director of CEAAC. Our board, contractors and employees have made a strong and nimble team, with accomplishments such as the Kasayulie and Moore settlements, which built many schools and brought many millions in support to struggling students; with our Ed Connector program which is networking administrators across the state with promising practices; with our Educator Quality and Quantity project, which achieved a new consensus for how to improve our education workforce; and our Regional Learning Center concept and legislation, which supports village schools with variable-term boarding opportunities for students. CEAAC is strong financially, politically, in membership and partnerships.

Knowing CEAAC is on a good path, I feel comfortable leaving to pursue other career objectives. But first we are entering into a search for a new executive director.

President Kerry Boyd has directed me to post this job opening:

CEAAC, the Citizens for the Educational Advancement of Alaska’s Children, is seeking a full-time executive director. CEAAC is a coalition of Alaska school districts and educational and tribal organizations working together to improve struggling schools and opportunities for at-risk students, especially in rural Alaska. CEAAC has an annual budget of approximately $300,000 and 501(c) 3 non-profit status. To learn more about CEAAC, visit A one-page summary of the organization’s current activities is here.
The Executive Director of CEAAC oversees staff, contractors and attorneys to fulfill the organization’s mission, works with school district superintendents and other members, and manages membership, fundraising and business tasks. The ideal candidate must be self-directed, confident in diverse settings, and ready to extensively grow the organization through additional membership and fundraising. Currently, CEAAC does not provide office space to the Executive Director. The job description can be found here.
Applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume by 5pm on Monday, October 19, to or to CEAAC, P.O. Box 90791, Anchorage, AK 99517. This is a delivery deadline, not a postmark deadline. Questions can be addressed to Charles Wohlforth at or 907-242-2151 (cell)

job description, job posting.

The tentative timeline for the hiring process is here.

Please spread the word to individuals you feel would be effective in leading CEAAC to the next level!

Teacher shortage efforts (September 10, 2015)

The need to increase the number and quality of Alaska’s teacher supply has become even more evident in the second year of our Educator Quality and Quantity project, as UA Vice President Steve Atwater noted in a recent opinion column in the Alaska Dispatch News, which specifically called out CEAAC’s work as a solution to this problem facing many school districts. Districts all over Alaska are finding it impossible to fill positions. We identified this issue and began working on it years before it came to this point and we have made progress, but the changes needed are major and systemic. Jerry Covey and Barbara Adams have developed a Phase 2 plan to implement the top six lost-cost/high-impact recommendations of our EQQ final report. We are currently working with funders to make Phase 2 a reality.

Ed Connector growth, focus (September 10, 2015)

Ed Connector Lora Jorgensen provided the following update:

Ed Connector now has 220 users (representing 47 of the state’s school districts) of which 170 are school business and finance personnel. When they log on, they find more than 550 school improvement tools and resources at their fingertips, over 33 peer-rated vendors, and timely conversations with administrators across the state on crucial topics such as State Regulatory Relief, Healthcare Reform, and Educator Evaluation.

For the first time in Alaska, promising practices in education from isolated areas around the state are being captured and curated for administrators to draw from. District leaders can share tools and resources as well as rate and track vendor support. Districts no longer need create their own strategies to address state requirements, they can pull from existing proven tools already in use across the state.

Ed Connector is continuing to build. Currently, we are focusing on providing customized systems for users with diverse administrative perspectives. Superintendents will find a different network of peers and resources than principals or curriculum directors. We are planning 14 different communities within Ed Connector to serve the range of specialties, from student activities to IT to facilities and operations.

Technical enhancements to Ed Connector's portal are underway to better support users and our diverse needs. CEAAC has submitted funding requests to various entities with some positive responses already coming in. Initial work is underway with our software contractor and we hope to have all major modifications complete by the end November of this year.

Ed Connector is totally free to users and is endowed by funds that CEAAC holds in reserve, creating little or no cost for supporting this work for our dues paying members.

To learn more about Ed Connector or activate your account, call Lora Jorgensen @ 907-786-5437 or e-mail her @

You can also meet Lora and review Ed Connector during the up-coming conference cycle of:

Ketchikan case goes to Supremes (September 10, 2015)

The Alaska Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough’s challenge to the State of Alaska’s school funding formula on Wednesday, September 16. The case will determine if more than $220 million is removed from school funding in Alaska, a potentially devastating blow to all our districts. Amicus brief litigants such as CEAAC will not be allowed to speak at the hearing. Four of the five justices will hear the case, because Justice Dana Fabe recused herself, due to the fact that her husband’s law partner is representing the AASB and ASA in their amicus brief on the case. Our Executive Board met with attorney Howard Trickey on CEAAC’s amicus brief on August 18 to hear an update and discuss the possibility he would be able to present oral arguments. Among other issues, the board discussed the cost of our participation in the case. Howard explained the unique issues we raised and substantial material we added to the record of the case, which relate to the Education Clause of the Alaska Constitution. Among all the materials before the court, only our brief explores the state’s duty to provide public education and the findings of the judge in the Moore Case, our previous victorious lawsuit that established the requirements of the state’s education duty. We expect those arguments will strengthen the defense of the formula, and we hope that the Supreme Court may specifically examine and approve of the Moore findings, which would confirm our success in that case. Our board found that the stakes are so high in the Ketchikan case that our added expense for raising these arguments is well worth the cost. Also, because we have a legal defense fund created from our winnings in past litigation, we can pursue this work without cost to our members. Our brief and past updates can be found here.

Bylaw and other changes (September 10, 2015)

At our spring meeting, the CEAAC board approved a name change, to Coalition for Education Equity, but deferred adoption of a new logo and corporate identity until more work is completed. We have put the name change on hold until the entire package of changes can be rolled out, which we anticipate after our fall meeting. In addition, the board approved moving forward on a bylaw change to include school board representation on our board of directors. Those changes are being drafted with plans for adoption at our fall meeting. In the meantime, superintendents should consider sharing CEAAC information with their boards with the goal of bringing a board member to our fall meeting, which will be held Wednesday, November 4, in Anchorage, on the eve of the AASB meeting.


House minority credits CEAAC in BSA, pre-K victories (August 17, 2015)

Alaska House Minority Leader Chris Tuck recently cited the work of CEAAC as crucial in preventing a reduction in the BSA in this year's marathon legislative session, and for saving pre-K funding and getting most of the needed funding for the Kivalina School. Representative Tuck's letter to Executive Director Charles Wohlforth is attached. Singling out the work of CEAAC Government Relations Director Tom Begich, Tuck wrote:

"I cannot express enough how instrumental Tom was to our efforts and how grateful I am for his counseling. His skills and insight were very valuable and helped us maneuver through the myriad of issues and strategies happening simultaneously. Not only was he able to quickly assess the situation and give great advice, he was able to accurately predict the outcome of how different entities of the legislature, the administration, and different public interest groups would react. This allowed us to stay several steps ahead of the situation. He was more than a valuable tool; he was a powerful weapon in the defense of education.”

Begich renews contract (August 17, 2015)

Government Relations Director Tom Begich renewed his contract with CEAAC for another year, an action approved by our executive board in late June. Tom will continue to work on protecting basic school funding, pre-k, and other top CEAAC priorities. We also expect extensive work on the school funding formula and the capital budget over the next year. Tom works with the board each fall to establish our legislative priorities.

Membership renewal and the year ahead (August 17, 2015)

Members should have received invoices for CEAAC membership for the 15-16 school year. About a third of you have already paid – thanks! The next year holds the largest challenges rural schools have faced in many years, including further pressure for budget cuts due to reduced state revenues, a rewrite of the formula that allocates funding, and the conclusion of the Supreme Court appeal of the Ketchikan school funding litigation. CEAAC is leading in all these arenas as the only organization in Alaska focused on rural schools. Membership dues keep us strong.

Formula rewrite update (August 17, 2015)

For those who may have missed it due to summer leave, here is the update we sent last month on the formula rewrite, which will determine the support for rural schools for many years to come. It came from Tom Begich, on July 22:

The Legislative Budget & Audit Committee (LB & A) met today to hear the initial findings of the contractor hired to review the Alaska k-12 Funding mechanism. The good news is the vast majority of the recommendations are quite favorable to rural Alaska and underserved populations. The bad news is there was a hint at the end of the presentation that the State might reconsider school district governance. We want to take advantage of the positive findings for our next year’s efforts, but need to be mindful of preparing to defend how we administer our districts.

I hope you are all otherwise having a great summer!

Recommendations from Formula Consultant

Equity issues

Fiscal Neutrality

Additional recommendations


Legislative session: victories amid the ashes (June 21, 2015)

Government Affairs Director Tom Begich’s report on the legislative session can be read here. The session truly marked a low in Alaska history, especially for education advocates. However, amid the bad news, CEAAC achieved a surprising level of success on the priorities identified by our board. From Tom’s report:

Working closely with the House Minority leadership, we played a critical role in the preservation of the $2 million in Pre-K funds and the preservation of the increase to the Base Student Allocation (BSA) secured for last year. This latter was critical to planning for all our member districts and – with Pre-K – was our highest legislative priority on the Operating side. I might add that we also saw funding for Parents as Teachers increased to $750,000 and Residential School stipend funding retained. On the Capital side we were quite successful as well. Our overall highest priority remained the full funding of the Kasayulie agreement which, this year, is now nearly complete. Working with the Governor’s Office, the superb Legislative team of the Northwest Arctic Borough and School District, Superintendent Annemarie O’Brien and Mayor Reggie Joule, we were able to get an appropriation for $43 million for the Kivalina School. … Despite the funding situation, we were also able to secure the $10 million slated in the Major Maintenance budget for the Demoski school and we retained the integrity of the REAA School Construction Fund ensuring its statutory deposit was secured.

No one doubts next year’s session will be as difficult or worse. Recognizing this, and Tom’s success in very difficult circumstances this year, the board voted last week to contract with him for another year.

Ketchikan litigation amicus brief (June 21, 2015)

CEAAC’s attorney, Howard Trickey, reports that the Alaska Supreme Court has accepted our amicus brief and the attachments that we had hoped to include in opposition to the Ketchikan Borough’s suit. Last year, Ketchikan won a ruling to stop the required local contribution in the state’s school funding formula. If upheld, the lower court’s decision would remove more than $220 million from Alaska school funding, with much of that loss coming from rural school budgets. CEAAC believes that decision was seriously flawed. At the trial court level, the constitution’s requirement for the state to provide for public schools was hardly addressed. With the acceptance of Howard’s brief and the attachments, that issue and the extensive support of the Moore case were added to the appeal. Our brief is quite voluminous, but Howard’s summary as well as the brief will be posted on the CEAAC website under the ‘Legal’ tab.

Board changes (June 21, 2015)

Our Executive Board’s meeting on June 17 was the last for member-at-large Mike Abbott, who has represented the Anchorage School District. Mike was appointed to be City Manager of Anchorage. In the spring, the board had chosen Todd Poage as an alternate Executive Board member, and he will fill Mike’s seat until the full board meets in the fall. In addition, Kerry Boyd, our vice president, is acting president due to the departure of Brad Allen.

Ed Connector and ALASBO (June 21, 2015)

Ed Connector Director Lora Jorgensen reports an exciting new partnership with ALASBO, the Alaska Association of School Business Officials. ALASBO members had been looking for a vehicle to communicate and collaborate, and Ed Connector seemed a perfect fit. The addition of business officials to the site brings in almost all the districts in the state, with hundreds of individual users. They find an extensive collection of resources of value to all administrators and lively discussion of current issues. Check out what you may be missing, at

Summertime… and dues invoices (June 21, 2015)

We will be in touch with another update in August. In the meantime, members will receive dues invoices for the FY 16 school year. Please pay as soon as is convenient. CEAAC is bringing resources and tackling problems for your schools.

Legislative limbo (May 15, 2015)

Like everyone, CEAAC has been waiting to see what the legislature will do as the stand-off continues over the votes needed to access the Constitutional Budget Reserve. The House minority is holding out for restoration of education funding in these negotiations, with our support. Government Relations Director Tom Begich is involved, but not much has changed since his update a month ago.

Moore committee holds final meeting (May 15, 2015)

The Moore Collaborative Committee held what is expected to be its final meeting on April 28 at UAA’s College of Education. The committee has already allocated all funds from the Moore Settlement. At last month’s meeting, it adopted policies for carry over and close-out of grants, heard a report from our evaluators at Ed Northwest, and endorsed a concept for the final product of the evaluation. CEAAC had hoped that the wrap-up of the Moore program would give us an opportunity to continue the same programs with legislative funding. The current fiscal situation in Juneau makes that unlikely. Instead, the final evaluation report will focus on the lessons learned from our school improvement efforts, producing a handbook for future reform and intervention efforts. The handbook will address both fine scale advice for districts creating programs, and broad advice for policy makers looking at making a difference statewide.

Commissioner Mike Hanley attended the meeting and joined CEAAC in thanking committee members and committee contractors for their service, presenting each with a certificate and an Alaska commemorative silver coin.

Going forward, Barbara Adams will continue in her role as committee chair, monitoring the Moore programs and making decisions delegated to her, as outlined in the committee’s policies. If a decision by the full committee is needed, Barbara can bring it out of its dormant status, but this is not expected.

Scholarship winner details (May 15, 2015)

Here is a brief profile of our two new recipients of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship, a future doctor and future business person from Bethel and Aniak.

Juneau update (April 15, 2015)

Everyone is focused on Juneau, and that is where CEAAC has been fighting hard for funding for our member districts. It has been a difficult year, but the update from Tom Begich, our government relations director, reviews some of the success that we are having as we head for adjournment of the regular session next week. We will provide a special update when we know the final outcome.

CEAAC to become Coalition for Education Equity (April 15, 2015)

The restructuring calls for hiring of a full-time executive director and an administrative assistant, with office space. The board adopted a budget to address these priorities. The changes would happen on a phased basis as the revenue picture comes into focus in the new fiscal year. The board did not adopt a new logo and our branding consultant, Anne Coates McGrath, was asked to work with board members and come back with more ideas. We will wait until the entire design package is complete before rolling out the new name. The board also adopted the budget for the next fiscal year and heard a positive report from our external auditor.

New officers elected (April 15, 2015)

President Brad Allen is stepping down as superintendent of the Kuspuk School District, and has resigned his leadership of CEAAC as of June 30. Vice-president Kerry Boyd will serve as president until a new president is elected at our fall meeting. The board also elected Todd Poage to the executive board effective July 1 to fill out the body, with the expectation that Todd will move up to the presidency next fall, with the board's approval at that time. Executive Board Member Jacob Jensen resigned as well. The board elected Norma Holmgaard, superintendent of the Yupiit School District, to fill out Jacob's term.

Scholarship winners announced (April 15, 2015)

The 2015 winners of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship are Keri Albrite, from the Nenana City Public School, who hopes to become a physician, and Kattie Hoeldt, from the Kuspuk School District, who plans to study business administration. We will have more details about our winners and the competition in a future update. Thanks to Scholarship Director Courtney Breest and judges Lora Jorgensen, Jerry Covey and Barbara Adams.

New phase for EQQ (April 15, 2015)

The Education Quality and Quantity team, Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams, finished a year of work with an invited  presentation to the UA Board of Regents, at its meeting in Bethel, April 8, which Executive Director Charles Wohlforth also attended. The University administration and Regents are fully engaged with our work. With this phase of the EQQ project complete, the team is working on a year 2 plan that takes into account Alaska's changed fiscal realities. The plan will identify steps to implement priorities in the report that have low cost and that we can impact through CEAAC resources. After the year 2 plan is ready, the team will seek a new round of funding from outside sources.

Board meeting March 26 in Anchorage for name change, restructuring (March 17, 2015)

CEAAC will meet Thursday, March 26, at 5pm, in the Adventure Room at the Hotel Captain Cook, directly after the district reception for the ATP Job Fair. A call-in capability will be available: please send an email is you want to call in. The agenda includes recent legislative action, final approval of our new name and design, our restructuring, budget for next year, audit report, elections to replace departing officers, and other work. A packet will go out the Monday before the meeting. This is an important meeting for CEAAC and attending members can make a big difference in our future. Please attend.

CEAAC working hard in a difficult Juneau session (March 17, 2015)

The legislative session has been very difficult, with committees making drastic cuts to education, especially the early childhood programs CEAAC has prioritized. We continue to work hard on these operating budget issues, expressed in a letter CEAAC issued March 5. We were pleased to see our Pre-K white paper widely used and quoted in Juneau and other settings. Here is a link to the paper, titled “Pre-Kindergarten: The Key to Saving Failing Schools.”

On the capital budget side, our top priority has been the Kivalina school, the final project in the Kasayulie settlement. The project is still in the budget, thanks to the requirements of the settlement. In fact, it is the only project in the capital budget that isn’t required to be there due to federal matching funds or reappropriation. We are working cooperatively with the Northwest Arctic Borough and school district. A strong new legal opinion from CEAAC attorney Howard Trickey that outlines the consequences of the state failing to fund the school will be our insurance. A report issued by DEED on February 27 reviews the state’s capital funding for schools over recent years, demonstrating the overwhelming power of Kasayulie in getting rural school needs addressed. We also continue to support major maintenance funding in the capital budget. Contact Government Relations Director Tom Begich with any issues you would like to coordinate with CEAAC or to learn more about the political landscape in Juneau.

Ed Connector growing, gains endorsement (March 17, 2015)

As Ed Connector wraps up its first month of operation, twelve school districts have begun using their accounts to access and share resources with one another. Sixteen vendors have uploaded complete profiles and these vendors have been rated on their prior service delivery by current Ed Connector school district users. The site has over 11 pages of tools and resources from DEED, ISER/CAEPR, AASB, ASA, and Education Northwest, to name a few, providing a solid base for districts to draw from and contribute to, in our state’s first educational clearinghouse.

Commissioner Hanley endorsed Ed Connector when he spoke to superintendents March 9 at the ASA Juneau Fly-In. With a call for districts administrators to collaborate and maximize the efficiency of existing resources, he urged those present to explore Ed Connector as a no-cost mechanism to leverage collective knowledge and build upon current Alaska-based best practices. The following morning, Ed Connector Director Lora Jorgensen provided a short program overview to ASA attendees. District administrators can get their FREE district accounts activated by calling Lora at (907) 786-5437 or e-mailing her at:

EQQ report to superintendents, state board, legislature and regents (March 17, 2015)

The written report of the Educator Quality and Quantity project was published February 27. Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams presented it soon after to ASA and the House and Senate Education Committees. The reception was positive, with Rep. Liz Vazquez requesting a list of the initial items CEAAC recommends for adoption. A negative response came from Rep. Lora Reinbold on the House Education Committee, who days later was stripped of her seat on the committee when she voted against the majority budget, moving Vazquez up to vice-chair of that committee. Covey and Adams will present to the State Board of Education on March 19 and the UA Board of Regents, tentatively April 9 in Bethel.

Final Moore Collaborative Committee meeting planned (March 17, 2015)

The committee that allocates funding from the Moore settlement will meet in Anchorage on April 28. The Moore Collaborative Committee was created in the settlement with three members appointed by CEAAC and three by the state, all of whom have stayed with us since formation in 2012, and a jointly appointed chair, originally Rhonda Gardner and now Dr. Barbara Adams. This will probably be the final meeting, as the funds from the settlement have all been allocated. The committee will review evaluation of grants and the process for extension of grants that are in process.

For CEAAC, the state’s budget crisis comes at a very bad time, as we had hoped to make Moore programs permanent with legislative funding, which in the current climate is not likely to happen. However, work will continue from the Moore grants for two more years, and we will continue to gather and collate evidence of the success of these programs, and we will pursue other opportunities to keep them going until the budget picture improves. An article in the Alaska Dispatch News on Hooper Bay was yet another example of our success: Hooper Bay received targeted resource and teacher retention funding, both of which the Lower Yukon School District have effectively used. We will be calling on other CEAAC members to help us document positive outcomes of our work so we can tell your story and find additional funding.

UA adopts EQQ teacher training recommendations (February 16, 2015)

CEAAC’s Educator Quality and Quantity Project marked a major success milestone when the University of Alaska announced a plan that incorporates many of our key goals and strategies. Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams have been working on our EQQ project for almost a year, the details of which they announced Oct 1. The UA plan, “Revitalizing Teacher Education in Alaska,” seeks to increase teacher training numbers, selectivity, recruitment, and proposes other strategies we have been advocating for. We will continue to work with the University and regents, and Jerry and Barbara are presenting our EQQ report to the Senate Education Committee on March 9 and to the House Education Committee the same week, as well as attending the ASA fly-in at that time. The completed report includes 16 interlocking recommendations for the University, DEED, districts, and other partners, to reform the education workforce in Alaska. Please review the report for a current understanding of this critical program.

Complete EQQ Report, February 2015
UA Revitalizing Teacher Education in Alaska

CEAAC allies with State of Alaska in Ketchikan litigation (February 16, 2015)

After meetings with Attorney Howard Trickey, CEAAC’s Executive Board voted unanimously to enter into the Ketchikan v. State litigation on school funding on the side of the State of Alaska. The Attorney General has welcomed our support. Howard will file an amicus brief with the Alaska Supreme Court highlighting constitutional issues arising from the decision by a Ketchikan judge that would block the state from requiring that local governments contribute to their own schools. The judge in Ketchikan found that the local requirement in the state’s school funding formula violated the constitution’s prohibition against dedicated taxes. If implemented, the ruling would potentially remove more than $220 million from the Alaska school funding formula. The ruling poses a serious threat to REAAs. CEAAC believes the local contribution is constitutional as part of the local, state and federal partnership in supporting schools, and that we have a good chance of reversing this potentially disastrous change to our funding system. CEAAC’s Trickey Constitutional Defense Fund was established to address situations such as this one, and the litigation will be completed without cost to our members.

CEAAC to change name, restructure (February 16, 2015)

Our board has decided to change the name of CEAAC and restructure the organization with full-time staff and administrative support. The board met at a planning session at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage January 23 and in a follow-up conference call on February 2 for those who could not be in Anchorage. Tom Begich is leading the re-structuring planning and Anne Coates McGrath is handing the re-naming and re-branding exercise. A small group volunteered to work with the consultants as they refine the work and come up with a new name. Additional members and friends of CEAAC are cordially invited to get involved with this work; please contact our director if you want to volunteer. We hope to complete the project in time for CEAAC’s spring board meeting, tentatively planned for March 26.

Walker supports CEAAC legislative priorities (February 16, 2015)

Despite the budget crisis facing Alaska, CEAAC has done well so far in Juneau this year, as Government Relations Director Tom Begich reports:

The budget picture may be grim, but education – at least for now – is holding its own. Not only were the reductions kept to a minimum in the DEED Budget proposed by Governor Walker, but there was an additional added increment of over $13 million for some Major Maintenance. On another note, efforts to reduce Alaska Student Loan percentages also have traction as a bonding bill to do just that has moved in the Senate Majority. This could have an impact on our potential teaching pool. There is a lot of discussion around teacher retention and we should be able to present our own work on March 10th in conjunction with hearings on the University of Alaska’s efforts in support of Teacher retention – that’s also good news and the timing is perfect.

Tom Begich's full legislative progress report, February 11, 2015

Pre-K white paper released (February 16, 2015)

CEAAC will fight this year to prevent further erosion of pre-K funding for Alaska schools, and will continue to push for increases, despite budget shortfalls. The evidence of the benefits of pre-K is overwhelming, a fact CEAAC is highlighting with a white paper we are releasing today. This paper is exceptional in quality and will be widely distributed as we educate Alaska leaders on the value of pre-K as a tool to turn around struggling schools. Please read the paper today, and help by sharing your own examples of pre-K as an intervention tool with our director. Also contact me if you want copies of the report for your own use or distribution.

New CEAAC pre-K report, February 2015

Ed Connector goes live, builds membership (February 16, 2015)

Our program to provide additional administrative capacity to districts is open for business and signing up users. All districts receive services from the Ed Connector free of charge. The best way to sign up is to contact Ed Connector Director Lora Jorgensen at 907-786-5437 or and get a personal introduction to the service and the website. Lora also will be at the ASA fly-in, March 7-10, and will present to attendees. Users need to sign up to use the website: the service is not open to the public.

Scholarship recipient tragedy (February 16, 2015)

With great sadness we received the news that one of our scholarship recipients had taken his own life. Jalen Paukan of St. Mary’s was the first winner of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship in 2011 and attended Stanford University for four years with our support. He was highly successful in that elite educational setting. Our sincere condolences go to Jalen’s family, community, and fellow students.

Click here for an obituary of this remarkable young man.

And remember, the deadline for our scholarship, worth up to $4000, is coming up on March 9. The scholarship is available to graduating seniors of CEAAC member districts.

Spike Jorgensen Scholarship 2015 Web Site

Moore grant process ends (February 16, 2015)

The Moore Settlement grant process will not accept further applications. The Moore Collaborative Committee voted to use remaining funds in the settlement to support pre-K programs in low-performing schools. That portion of the settlement is administered by DEED, and eligible districts will hear directly from the department with the requirements for obtaining support. Funding previously allocated for pre-K, Targeted Resources, and Teacher Retention are still being disbursed, and evaluation of the Targeted Resources program by the Education Northwest is continuing, with annual reports being sent to grant recipients now. CEAAC’s goal of obtaining continuation of these programs is encompassed in the pre-K and EQQ programs explained above.

Complete financials for disbursement of the Moore Settlement as of February 1, 2015

Strategic planning January 23 in Anchorage (January 2, 2015)

As CEAAC successfully completes the three-year plan we adopted in 2012, we have retained a team to lead production of a new plan for the years ahead. Tom Begich will act as facilitator and lead planner and Anne Coates McGrath as branding and design expert. Last month, the CEAAC Executive Board approved expenditure of up to $15,000 on this effort. All members are requested to attend a critically important kick-off meeting for this process, on Friday, January 23, after the RTI conference in Anchorage. Decisions we will discuss at the meeting:

This meeting will begin a process we hope to complete in March. If you care about CEAAC and its long-term future, please plan to attend. Dinner will be served. Details of the room we will use to follow soon.

Hanley reappointment (January 2, 2015)

Congratulations to Commissioner Mike Hanley for his reappointment, which was made formal on December 30. CEAAC had written a letter to Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Mallott urging the administration retain Hanley, and made numerous other overtures with the transition and administration. Hanley has been a critical ally in our work over the last four years, and has made important progress in changing the culture of the Department to be more supportive of districts. We are already working productively with him in the new administration and look forward to more joint efforts.

Capital budget and Kasayulie settlement (January 2, 2015)

After the drop in oil prices, Governor Walker removed all projects from the capital budget that don’t have federal matching funds, except one: our Kivalina school project, which was included in the Kasayulie settlement. We thank Commissioner Mike Hanley for keeping this requirement in the forefront as the new administration takes over. Because the district is not ready for construction, we are formally notifying Hanley that the full amount of the school’s cost is not required at this time, despite our legal right to re-open the settlement agreement. However, we are reserving our right to re-open the settlement if the State of Alaska doesn’t continue to provide all funds necessary for Kivalina, including all the money currently shown in the Governor’s capital budget for next year.

Ketchikan litigation (January 2, 2015)

School leaders across Alaska were shocked by the decision of a Ketchikan judge in support of a suit by the Ketchikan borough challenging the local contribution to schools under the state’s funding formula. Loss of the local funding required by state law would put a hole of over 20% in our basic funding system, or more than $220 million. We have worked with AASA, AASB, Commission Hanley, and the Governor’s office to make sure these issues are understood and to address the case in the most effective way possible. On December 12, our Executive Board heard a briefing from Attorney Howard Trickey on the merits of the case and its implications, and directed expenditure of up to $10,000 to have him continue to track the issue and advise the board.

Ed Connector (January 2, 2015)

The Ed Connector website went live December 9, a major milestone for a project that began as a board idea three years ago. The site is in beta-testing mode this month, as our director, Lora Jorgensen, our Steering Committee, and other partners try out the functions and pre-load resources valuable to our member districts. Lora hopes to present the site and her services at the RTI conference in Anchorage, Jan 23-25, when we will be fully open for business. In other news, our amazing Lora also made an athletic milestone, completing a full Ironman competition in Mexico in November, including a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26-mile run, all in 16 hours, 27 minutes. Way to go Lora!

Lora in Ironman

Norm Eck, Courtney Breest and Felix Rivera working for CEAAC (November 19, 2014)

CEAAC has added additional contract help to build the organization and be more effective in our programs. Norm Eck came on board as our membership director and will be contacting current and future CEAAC members to develop support. As our past president, and one of Alaska’s most respected educators, we’re lucky to have Norm in this critical role. Courtney Breest is the new director of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship. Courtney previously helped CEAAC with outreach tasks, including making sure that schools know about our scholarship. Now she will be the go-to person to raise awareness and advance the scholarship. Felix Rivera came on board as a researcher to support the Education Quality and Quantity Project led by Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams, and to develop material in support of our Pre-K funding work in the upcoming legislative session. Learn about our entire professional team.

Executive Board initiates strategic plan project (November 19, 2014)

CEAAC will work on a new three-year plan at a general meeting tentatively planned for January 23, 2015, in Anchorage. The plan we adopted in 2012 expires in April. The Executive Board, meeting November 6, gave direction for retaining a facilitator and the general shape of the new plan. It will provide goals for the next few years, and address a gap in our branding, with the goal of adopting a clear mission statement and identity for the organization. Since many of our priorities will be on-going, including improving the educator workforce, increasing pre-k funding, and operating the Ed Connector, the planning process does not need to be as in-depth as the one CEAAC used three years ago. Instead, we will produce a more aspirational document with an action plan to be delineated at a later date. Sideboards and background information will be provided in advance to make sure we use time effectively. A meeting notice will come soon as to the exact time and place, but we expect to meet when superintendents are in Anchorage for the Alaska RTI Conference.

Executive Board honors Beckford, selects investment plan (November 19, 2014)

At its November 6 meeting, the board awarded individual voting CEAAC membership to Joe Beckford and waived the membership fee for the current year. The board took the action in recognition of Joe’s many years of service to CEAAC, including as president and secretary-treasurer, and tireless leadership for our work since the beginning. The board also approved a resolution investing our Ed Connector funds in the same type of income-oriented, short-term bond fund as our other long-term investments, at Vanguard.

EQQ project aims for stakeholder meeting (November 19, 2014)

The Educator Quantity and Quality project, led by Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams, has completed its ‘data scrubbing’ phase and is now focused on final research and report writing, leading up to a major meeting in Anchorage in January. Jerry and Barbara have presented the plan they originally unveiled in Fairbanks on October 1 to a variety of education leaders, including many meetings at the AASB meeting in Anchorage in early November. Their next goal is to prepare for the meeting of stakeholders , which will review and bless the plan. The team’s goal is to gather statewide support for the strategies over the course of 2015 in preparation for the 2016 legislative session.

New CEAAC leadership elected (October 14, 2014)

The CEAAC fall meeting in Fairbanks October 1 was our busiest ever, including electing new officers to our Executive Committee. Norm Eck had stepped down as President due to his retirement from his district. Brad Allen, superintendent of the Kuspuk School District, was elected unanimously to be our new president. Kerry Boyd will continue as vice president. Joe Beckford, who has served on our board for many years, including four years as Secretary-Treasurer, stepped down from the position. Sincere thanks for Joe’s contributions over the years were expressed at the board meeting, and we hope to keep his counsel and help as part of CEAAC. Annmarie O'Brien, superintendent of the Northwest Arctic School Board, will now hold the position of Secretary-Treasurer on our board. We're very excited to have Annmarie on the Executive Committee. Mike Abbott of the Anchorage School District will continue as member-at-large. Todd Poage stepped down as the other member at large on the Executive Committee and Jacob Jensen, superintendent of the Lower Kuskokwim School District, was elected to that position.

CEAAC projects receive grant funding (October 14, 2014)

CEAAC’s recent success in receiving grants has allowed us to fund our work with only half of our revenue coming from member dues. The rest is coming from outside support. The Ed Connector Program received a large cash and in-kind grant from GCI last month, including hosting our web portal, providing equipment and video conferencing, and $15,000 in cash support. This month, Ed Connector received a $20,000 cash grant from BP. The company expressed interest in providing future funding as well. In addition, CEAAC’s Educator Quantity and Quality Project has received important support from two non-district CEAAC members. NEA-Alaska’s full board voted unanimously for a $25,000 cash grant to support the project. Cook Inlet Tribal Council is partnering in the project by contributing funds and raising funds from other Native organizations statewide.

Lora and BP
Lora and GCI


Educator Quality and Quantity Project milestone (October 14, 2014)

Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams presented their six-month research project on improving the quality and quantity of Alaska teachers, specialists and principals, speaking over dinner to an open session of three dozen superintendents and other education stakeholders in Fairbanks on October 1. They received a consensus of support to continue the ideas they presented. The project is outlined and the recommendations listed at a new section of the CEAAC website. Our big-reach goals are to expand the Alaska-grown education workforce, training 60% of new hires in-state by 2020; and to develop and retain the workforce, with 90% of teachers reaching proficiency level rating by 2020. The consultants presented 20 recommendations in four priority areas: preparation, recruitment, professional development, and retention. After a meaty discussion with the audience and board members present, Covey and Adams received direction to ‘scrub’ the recommendations and convene a panel of education stakeholders for further work. They will flesh out the recommendations to produce concrete policy proposals and legislation through 2015.

Ed Connector roll-out plan (October 14, 2014)

Ed Connector Director Lora Jorgensen spent time talking with superintendents across the state over the past two weeks and, after getting their feedback, CEAAC has decided to modify its roll out plan for Ed Connector.

Originally, the Ed Connector was to go live at the beginning of November. We will be ready on schedule with technology, staff and funding. However, superintendents recommended building deep content before launching.

Lora’s revised plan is to:

This way, Ed Connector will have a content base from the start and end-users will see greater value. As a result, users may be more apt to take the time to contribute their own tools and resources. In addition, our “super users” will be strong advocates for Ed Connector and help encourage others to utilize it. 

New member joins; and time to renew (September 5, 2014)

Welcome to CEAAC’s newest member, Denali Borough School District. Superintendent Jim Elliott let us know his board has decided to join CEAAC. Also, all existing members should have received renewal invoices from CEAAC, but some have not yet paid. Please pay by the time of our October 1 board meeting or let our director know the status of your payment to assure we have proper rolls for the annual elections and other business.

Fall meeting in Fairbanks October 1 (September 5, 2014)

Our fall board meeting will take place Wednesday, October 1, at the Westmark Fairbanks. We have a new format for this meeting because we have so much to share with you:

4:30-6:00 PM, Rampart Room: Business meeting for current CEAAC members. Agenda includes officer elections, financial report and budget update, Ed Connector update, legislative program, launch of our process for our second three-year plan, and more.

6:00-7:30 PM, Yukon Room: Dinner served for all Alaska superintendents, presentation by Jerry Covey and Barbara Adams on our Teacher Quality and Quantity Project, with proposals for action. Learn more about the TQQ project here.

Most of you will be coming to Fairbanks for the ASA meeting. We have coordinated with Lisa Parady to make sure our meeting dovetails with ASA. Please plan to arrive on Wednesday afternoon and have dinner on CEAAC. Invite your colleagues who would be interested. We will need a dinner count, so please let us know at as soon as you know your plans.

CEAAC’s first full-time staff person on board (September 5, 2014)

Lora_Jorgensen, Ed Connector Director

Lora Jorgensen is on staff as the director of the Ed Connector, CEAAC’s program to help district administrators with access to resources and collaboration among districts. Simply, Lora is going to stretch your hours to be more productive and keep all of us stop re-inventing the wheel as many districts try to solve the same problems. Her office is at ISER on the UAA campus, but her paycheck comes from CEAAC through fundraising and the Moore settlement. She will be at the October 1 meeting in Fairbanks to meet members and will be ready to show off the Ed Connector at the AASB Annual Conference, November 6-9 in Anchorage.

Legislative program development (September 5, 2014)

CEAAC is now in the process of establishing its Legislative priorities for the coming year. Based on the prior Legislative Session, we will be prioritizing some of our activities from last year and also pushing forward on new fronts.  Our preliminary list includes, on the Capital side: 1) Funding of at least $25 million in Major Maintenance projects on the DEED list; 2) Funding the next school on the School Construction list. On the Operations side we are seeking: 1) Introduction of a bill to improve the education workforce (based on the project currently underway by Jerry Covey and Barbara Adams); 2) Introduction of evidence-based, voluntary Statewide Pre-K; 3) Support of increased technology grants for rural schools; and 4) Active participation on any proposed rewrite of the formula to ensure that all schools are treated fairly.  
This is only a preliminary list. We also anticipate discussion at the October 1 meeting in Fairbanks.

Moore agreement signed for Ed Connector (August 8, 2014)

An amendment to the Moore settlement agreement will allocate $450,000 to CEAAC for the Ed Connector project. Education Commissioner Mike Hanley and CEAAC President Kerry Boyd signed the amendment at the AASA/DEED conference in Juneau July 27-28. The Ed Connector will retain Lora Jorgensen as a full time employee starting in September. She will be housed at UAA’S Institute of Social and Economic Research, which is providing office space to CEAAC at no cost. The Ed Connector Steering Committee has worked hard with Lora over the summer to design the program. The largest effort has been directed to working with The JIBE, our contractor building the portal that will be the heart of the Ed Connector. A discovery phase of that work is complete and the main effort should begin in September, with the tentative goal of launching the service in early November.

Covey and Adams studying teacher quantity and quality (August 8, 2014)

Jerry Covey and Dr. Barbara Adams are working hard over the summer on a study to find root causes for Alaska’s failure to turn more of our own students into teachers. We hire 70% of Alaska teachers from outside, although we know that Alaska-grown teachers are more successful and last longer. Jerry and Barbara are talking to a wide range of stakeholders, and want to hear from individual district administrators about their challenges and innovative ideas. A summary of their research plan is here. The next step, after information gathering, will be to put together actionable recommendations to bring to the CEAAC Board meeting in the fall. Assuming CEAAC adopts the recommendations, the team will work on putting together a coalition of support that will substantively transform education training and recruitment. We will keep you informed, and those who want to participate can contact the researchers through CEAAC.

Membership, fall meeting, elections (August 8, 2014)

CEEAC’s fall board meeting will be held in Fairbanks on October 1, time to be announced. We’ll have a lot to do, including electing new officers. With the retirement of Norm Eck, the position of president is being held by Vice President Kerry Boyd, who has expressed a desire not to stay in that role. Members who have paid dues are invited to vote in elections and on the other important issues before the board: all school district members gain a seat on the board. Membership invoices went out last month. Paying promptly saves CEAAC money by reducing our administrative effort to collect dues.

Contract renewals and new team members (June 18, 2014)

The CEAAC Executive Board met on June 11, renewing contracts for the executive director, Charles Wohlforth, and government relations director, Tom Begich. The board also approved contract offers for our consultants working on the project to improve the quality, quantity and retention of Alaska-trained educators, Jerry Covey and Barbara Adams, and an offer to hire CEAAC’s first employee, to run the Ed Connector program (see below).

Ed Connector developing web portal (June 18, 2014)

The Ed Connector is our service to add capacity to districts’ administrators by connecting them to resources and other districts. The program will be funded by grants and an allocation from the Moore settlement. Lora Jorgensen is working on developing the concept with a steering committee. Currently, she is seeking grants funds, working with a contractor on design of the Ed Connector web portal, and planning a roll-out in the fall with the most critical information needs districts have identified. Administrators have asked for help with Alaska’s new teacher evaluation requirements, and that will be an initial focus of the Ed Connector. The entire steering committee has worked hard on the program, with Brad Allen of Kuspuk and Angie Lunda of Hoonah putting in extra hours to help with the portal design. Thank you!

Moore program changes (June 18, 2014)

The Moore Collaborative Committee met on May 19 and adopted new policies and discussed allocation of future grant funds. No new grant rounds are planned until next year, and the committee asked for more research on the ability to allocate remaining funds to the two-year kindergarten program. The committee’s new policies concern the process for districts to request changes to approved grants, and a standard MOU with Targeting Resource Grant recipients to clarify data needs and processes for working with our evaluators. These documents can be found here on the Moore Clearinghouse page.

CEAAC thanks Norm Eck for his leadership (May 8, 2014)

Norm Eck Honored

CEAAC President Norm Eck announced is retirement from the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, and he will no longer be available to serve on our board. In recognition of his exceptional service as CEAAC’s leader, the board approved a resolution at our April 10 meeting giving Norm permanent status as a member and, as a retirement gift, funding his membership in national AASA and sponsoring his attendance at their annual conference, next February. The text of the resolution honoring Norm is here. Pictured from left: Charles Wohlforth, Joe Beckford, Todd Poage, Mike Abbott, Kerry Boyd, and Norm Eck.

Board meeting, financial report, budget and milestones (May 8, 2014)

The CEAAC board approved an annual budget, heard a financial report, received a two-year audit, and reviewed milestones on our legislative program and three-year plan at the April 10 meeting in Anchorage. The budget for next year changed mainly to address completion of the projects and the beginning of new efforts. The financial report showed spending in line with revenue as we complete the fiscal year. Secretary-Treasurer Joe Beckford presented the Foster and Company CPA review (not a full audit, as experts said that would be excessive for an organization our size). The review was ‘clean,’ meaning the CPA found no items of note, and was unable to identify any ways in which our procedures could be improved for handling money. The Executive Director and Government Relations Director reported on efforts over the last year. We have achieved and surpassed the goals the board established. The legislative report is here.

Ed Connector to be funded through Moore Settlement (May 8, 2014)

The CEEAC board voted April 10 to support changing the Moore settlement to direct $450,000 to our Ed Connector project, spreading the funds over six years. Here is the decision memo approved by the board. Commissioner Hanley had previously agreed to the concept and our executive board approved exploring it and drafting legal documents. The board had a vigorous debate on the best use of the funds, with the recognition that the money could also be used positively in the classroom. The board heard contractors Sarah Sledge and Lora Jorgensen present the research and development of the project over the last year, and discussed the expectation that the Ed Connector could help superintendents with challenging issues they are facing currently. The final vote was unanimous. Here is a one-page summary of the project.

Covey completes RLC Project, begins TQQ Project (May 8, 2014)

The Regional Learning Center Project led for CEAAC and Cook Inlet Tribal Council by Jerry Covey has been completed with all goals attained: legislation allowing districts to create regional, variable-length programs; an increase in funding to cover all boarding and travel costs; and legislation requiring an annual application period for new programs. We are closing out the RLC Project, and Jerry has agreed to take on the next priority in our three-year plan: the Teacher Quality and Quantity Project. The goals of the TQQ project are to 1) Train substantially more Alaskans to become teachers; 2) Produce teachers who are better prepared to teach in our schools; and 3) Retain teachers in their jobs longer. The first phase of the project is to produce research diagnosing the state education system to determine why we are not producing enough teachers, and to identify solutions. Later phases will build support and obtain legislation and changes in higher education to implement our solutions.

CEAAC 2014 legislative report released (April 24, 2014)

By Government Relations Director Tom Begich

I wanted to offer a quick summary of our end-of session activities. CEAAC was a key player in advocating for not only our identified legislative priorities, but also for a larger BSA and improved technology for rural districts. While the final numbers in many areas were not as good as we had hoped, they are better than we expected when we began planning for this session last September. Here is a brief summary of our successes this session, pending the Governor's power to veto these activities:

  1. RLC Stipends. Our initial effort to complete the increase in the amount of the stipend, introduced by Senator Coghill and Representative Gattis, was rolled into the Governor's reform bill and survived the Conference committee. The Governor's bill included an annual open period for consideration of RLC applications. This also passed. Tax Credits to corporations for support of RLC construction are also included.
  2. Kwethluk and St. Mary's schools, the next two schools on the school construction list, were both in the Capital budget and the State portion was fully funded. Though we tried, there was no funding for items on the DEED Major Maintenance list.
  3. State funding for the Correspondence Study Factor was increased from 80% to 90% of BSA as an incentive for use of correspondence study.
  4. The BSA was increased by $150 this year and an additional $50 next year and the year after. Additional funding was provided outside of the BSA - also by formula which, when combined with the BSA increase, effectively equates to a BSA increase of about $223. The amount outside of the BSA will decrease in successive years as the BSA increases, keeping the amount at approximately $223.
  5. There is $5 million annually, in funding to improve internet connectivity to 10 Megabits throughout rural Alaska.
  6. The exit exam is repealed and replaced with requirement to take SAT, ACT or WorkKeys to graduate. Children with disabilities will be provided a waiver option and will be provided opportunities to take these college or work exams. Also provides an opportunity for application to the DEED for a diploma for those failing the exit exam.
  7. There will be no A-F rating system for schools
  8. Funds distributed outside of the BSA may be used to determine the maximum voluntary local contribution
  9. There are no changes to teacher tenure, though tenure will be added to the salary and benefits study to be conducted (there are a number of studies funded under this legislation including a) reexamining the District Cost Factor; b) salary and benefits; c) school design and construction; and d) school size factor).
  10. Establishes a Pilot Program to extend High School STEM to middle school, sunset June 30, 2017

Some other provisions:

  1. The 60-40 bond reimbursement program is changed to 50-50
  2. Did not raise the mill rate as originally proposed by the Senate.
  3. Adds significant Charter School Language allowing for greater funds to Charter schools, right of first refusal for District buildings, and lowers number of students to create a charter school to 75 with fiscal incentives for smaller schools in first three years.
  4. The employee contribution to TVEP is raised from .15 to .16. and extends TVEP sunset date to June 30, 2017; Illisagvik named as a recipient
  5. Tax credits are provided to organizations supporting public or private non profit elementary and secondary schools, to a non profit for dual-credit student costs, for donations to non-profits, school districts or tribal organizations' early childhood education programs, vocational RTC and Apprentice programs and to "nonprofit agencies providing educational opportunities promoting legacy of public service".

Thanks to all of you and your good work. We keep moving forward, but there is much yet to do!

Scholarship Winners Announced (April 7, 2014)

The judges of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship today announced the two winners for 2014. They were Kvichak Aspelund of Naknek and Paige McConnell of Kotzebue. Each will receive $1000 toward post-secondary education this year, renewable for up to a total of four years.

Kvichak plans to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage, with the goal of ultimately becoming a Fish and Wildlife Alaska State Trooper. Staff at Bristol Bay Borough High School described him as reliable, determined, and a credit to his community. One of his recommendations for the scholarship stated: "Mr. Aspelund represents his family, school and community in a way that very few young people do. We are all very proud of the example he sets and are excited to see what lies in his future."

Paige also expects to attend University of Alaska Anchorage, and wants to become an elementary school teacher. Carrying a 4.0 GPA in her senior year, she is noted as an exceptional student at Kotzebue High School. One of her teachers stated, "Throughout my career, there are those students who stand out, who value the learning process and transition into the post-secondary world with grace and enthusiasm. Paige is one of those students."

The judges sifted through 26 applications to choose the two winners. In response to the high quality of the applications, they wrote, "There were many well deserving students and we would like to pass on our congratulations to the two winners and all those who submitted applications. Their plans, stories, and determination provide a sense of hopefulness for the future."

Scholarship judges for 2014 were Barbara Adams, Jerry Covey, and Paul Ongtooguk. CEAAC thanks them sincerely for their effort. The Spike Jorgensen Scholarship honors the work of Dr. Jorgensen over a career of teaching and advocating for young people in rural Alaska.

Spring board meeting Thursday in Anchorage (April 4, 2014)

All CEAAC members are invited to participate in our spring meeting, Thursday, April 10, at 3:30pm, in Sheraton Anchorage Board Room 308. The ATP Job Fair is at the Sheraton this year, with registration Thursday afternoon. We have timed our meeting to make it easy for you to attend both events while you are in town. We will have dial-in facilities at our usual number: 712-432-0700, PIN 174597.

Legislative action and emergency meeting (April 4, 2014)

CEAAC called an emergency meeting April 3 to address the House education bill, HB 278 CS, which made several questionable changes, including altering the school funding formula to give a large new advantage to Anchorage. Since Anchorage is a member and we’ve worked cooperatively on many issues, we took special care to talk to the ASD administration and board before taking a position on the bill, and encouraged them to be as neutral as possible. Our own position was released today, through interviews and a press release. We believe all schools should get an equitable increase in funding through the BSA without changing the formula. A white paper and position paper is provided for your use in working with legislators. Expressing our position for a larger increase in the BSA that is not tied to a formula change, is critical at this juncture.

Our legislation to increase the stipend for RLCs appears to be faring well as a stand-alone bill, although it was deleted from the Governor’s bill in House Finance. The provision requiring an annual application period is still alive in the omnibus bill.

We’ve been working on many other issues, highlighted in the legislative program on the website. Government Relations Director Tom Begich also worked on defeat of SJR9, the voucher constitutional amendment; the bill appears to be dead. Tom will report at our meeting on April 10.

Moore Committee Grants approved (April 4, 2014)

The Moore Collaborative Committee approved nearly all grant requests at its meeting at the UAA College of Education on March 31, 2014. All members of the committee participated, led by Chair Barbara Adams. CEAAC Executive Director Charles Wohlforth was also present. Grant review contractor Phil Knight joined a portion of the meeting by Skype. Terry Akey and Tim Speth of Education Northwest made a presentation by conference call. The committee approved all 37 Teacher Retention Grant requests, except for one which was postponed for additional information. Dr. Knight has already contacted that district for the information needed this week, and the committee will reconvene soon for further consideration of that one request. The committee also conditionally approved all seven Targeted Resources Grant requests. The condition for grant approval is compliance with evaluation activities with Education Northwest. Chair Adams will work with Education Northwest to notify districts of compliance needs, withholding the new grants from districts until they are in compliance. The committee will create an additional MOU for these grants clarifying compliance milestones and consequences going forward.

Brad Billings of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will notify individual grantees of their awards within about a week.

HSGQE Remediation Program to close out (April 4, 2014)

One of the four programs created by the Moore settlement was the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam Remediation Reimbursement Program. The concept of the program was good: to pay back districts for remediation work they pursued with students unable to pass the HSGQE who attended low-performing schools. However, despite our best efforts, the program proved to be an administrative headache for districts, because it required them to track costs for individual students and match those costs with attendance records and test data. Only about 6% of the money allocated to the program was ever spent. In addition, the program is now obsolete, since the legislature is poised to abolish the HSGQE.

May 1 is the next deadline for districts to apply for reimbursement under this program. Those requests will be honored. After that date, the Moore Collaborative Committee unanimously voted, the program will be closed.

Reallocation of Moore settlement dollars (April 4, 2014)

After more than two years, most of the Moore settlement has been committed to grants for rural schools (although most grant activities are only just getting started). About $1.5 million remains uncommitted of the original $18 million settlement, including more than $900,000 from the closed HSGQE Remediation Reimbursement Program. A joint proposal by CEAAC and Commissioner Hanley would take about half of that HSGQE money to provide six years of funding to CEAAC for the Ed Connector program, a project initiated by our board and pursued over the last year by our contractors and a seven-member steering committee (see below). The Moore Collaborative Committee is responsible to reallocate the balance of the funds and will accept advice from districts. At its last meeting on March 31, members expressed interest in putting the entire amount into a single program rather than having districts compete for small pots of dollars in separate programs.

Ed Connector (formerly ERSI) (April 4, 2014)

Our steering committee and contractor continued work on this program to support small district administrators with resources, capacity, and collaborative relationships. We are establishing partnerships with other organizations to support the work, seeking large corporate grants to pay for the IT build and ongoing funding, and negotiating with the State of Alaska for six years of base funding to come from the Moore settlement. We will discuss this issue at the April 10 board meeting. A steering committee has worked on the project, consisting of Commissioner Hanley, Jacob Jensen of LKSD, Brad Allen of Kuspuk, Angie Lunda of Hoonah, Richard Kerr of NEA, and Annmarie O’Brien and Paul Ongtooguk, both of UAA. Our hope is to complete the design of the project in time to launch it this year. Our contractor is Lora Jorgensen. The Phase 1 report provides the research basis for the concept.

Scholarship applications (April 4, 2014)

We received 26 valid applications for the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship by the deadline this year. Thanks to our improved PR work, including calling schools and sending out posters, we did not receive late applications, as has been a problem in the past. Judges this year are Jerry Covey of JSC Consulting, Barbara Adams of UAF, and Paul Ongtooguk, of UAA. Winners will be announced next week.


Proposed change to the Moore Settlement (March 10, 2014)

The Executive Committee on February 26 and voted to move forward with the first step of a plan to amend the Moore Settlement agreement to reallocate some of the funds. The proposal will be legally drafted and circulated to the full board for review before coming back to the Executive Committee for final consideration. Charles Wohlforth, our executive director, and Commissioner Mike Hanley came up with the idea. The settlement currently has $1 million allocated to remediation for students unable to pass the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam. With the exam soon to be abolished, that fund still contains more than $900,000. The proposal is to take half that amount to fund CEAAC’s project to support district administrators with information, collaborative links, and assistance with outside resources, currently called the ERSI project. Wohlforth and Hanley feel this is consistent with the purposes of the Moore Settlement. In fact, a concept like ERSI was originally part of CEAAC’s Moore settlement proposal in 2011. A $450,000 fund for ERSI would be used to pay approximately half its costs for six years, at $75,000 per year. The balance of the $900,000 in the HSGQE fund would be reallocated to existing programs by the Moore Collaborative Committee.

Juneau activity (March 10, 2014)

CEAAC has taken a very active role in Juneau this year. As previously noted, our legislation to increase the stipend for our RLC project was included in Governor Parnell’s education bill. In addition, CEAAC’s Government Relations Director, Tom Begich, has worked closely with the coalition of advocates supporting an increase in the BSA and for defeat of SJR9, the voucher constitutional amendment, assisting community groups to hone their message and be effective with legislators. These efforts seem to be paying off, as grass-roots activism has caught the attention of legislators this year; contrary to expectations before the session, the BSA will go up, and now we’re working on how much it will rise. At the request of AASB, the Executive Committee also made a late change to our legislative program, to support the 1 To 1 technology initiative, and Begich has worked with AASB’s Joseph Reeves and Norm Wooten to advance that legislation. Our goal of creating better partnerships with AASB and AASA have borne fruit this year, as we lend mutual support in our efforts.

Moore applications and program changes (March 10, 2014)

By the February 7 deadline the Moore Collaborative Committee received 7 applications for Targeted Resources, 36 applications for Teacher Retention, and 9 for two-year-kindergarten. The committee will meet March 31 in Anchorage to decide on the applications and districts should receive notification that week. Phil Knight will once again lead the review process. Lora Jorgensen and Laurel Vorachek will support Phil as the second and third scorers for the competitive Teacher Retention applications. The Moore Committee has met twice to review the process and decided on March 5 to adjust the bonus scores and cut score for the Teacher Retention program, to lessen the impact of bonus points that are given to schools in the bottom 40 of SBA performance statewide and with teacher turnover above 25%. Formerly, each of those items received 10 points bonus on top of 100 possible points, with a cut-score of 90 points. With such the combined 20-point bonus, an analysis of past grants showed that all applications receiving the bonus points were approved, while none that did not receive the bonus points were approved. Essentially, you needed an A grade to win without bonus points, but only a C to win with them. To make the process fairer, the bonus points now will be 5 points for each factor, and the cut score will be 82.5.

Spring board meeting April 10 in Anchorage (March 10, 2014)

The CEAAC Board of Directors will meet in Anchorage Thursday, April 10, at 3:30, the day before Alaska Teacher Placement’s spring Job Fair. Location will be forthcoming soon.

Moore grant deadline Friday and a new chairperson (February 3, 2014)

February 7, 2014: Moore grant applications due February 7, 2014 for Targeted Resources, Teacher Retention, Teacher Retention continuation, and Early Learning.

New schools are eligible this year, and districts who received teacher retention grants last year may need to apply for continuation money. Everything you need is at the page linked above, or contact CEAAC for help. Here is the current school list.

We have a new Chair of the Moore Collaborative Committee: Dr. Barbara Adams. Dr. Adams, formerly of the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project, now is with graduate instruction at the UAF School of Education. She accepted the chairperson appointment from CEAAC Executive Director Charles Wohlforth and Commissioner of Education Mike Hanley to replace Rhonda Gardener, who stepped down last year when she took a job out of state. Dr. Phil Knight remains in the role of contractor to the committee to review grant applications. The committee will meet March 31 in Anchorage to approve this round of grants.

Scholarship deadline and a new CEAAC aide (February 3, 2014)

Deadline is March 3, 2014 for the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship.

Please make sure your high school counselors and instructional leaders know that the deadline for our scholarship is one month away. Last year we received dozens of late applications, which the committee could not consider. To improve our communication on the scholarship, our new aide, Courtney Farnham, will be contacting all high schools in CEAAC districts to remind them of its availability and underline the deadline. Please help out Courtney—and your students—by letting them know about this opportunity and the need for promptness. Everything students need to know about the scholarship is at the link above.

Responding to the Governor’s bill (February 3, 2014)

CEAAC is taking a leadership role in working with interested groups and Commissioner Hanley in finding a positive outcome to the “Education Session” of the Alaska legislature. Events are unfolding rapidly. On Friday our Executive Board met to review a sectional analysis of the Governor’s education bill (HB 278/SB 139) by our Government Relations Director, Tom Begich, and to develop a CEAAC position. With the clear understanding that this legislation is not linked to the constitutional amendment for vouchers (SJR 9), which we oppose, the board found that many of the provisions are positive or neutral for CEAAC. The Governor included our RLC stipend legislation in his bill, and added provisions that go beyond what we had asked for in law—including an annual period of application for our member districts to request RLCs, and tax credits for companies that help districts build dorms. CEAAC will reserve judgment on another section of the bill, regarding charter schools, until we hear from the Anchorage School District, our member, which is the most affected. We also believe the BSA increase in the bill should be much larger. The remaining provisions of the bill are supported or not opposed by CEAAC.

With this position in mind, CEAAC has stepped forward to help guide the strong public groundswell that has arisen over education funding this year. Working with our allies in the Partnership for Public Education, including NEA-Alaska, the United Way, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and others, we will help lead a meeting of advocacy and citizen groups in Anchorage on Monday. (More on partnership work below.) Our goal is to focus on the BSA and the need to increase that number so that it makes a significant positive difference for all Alaska school districts this year. We hope to channel grassroots parent power toward that goal while working cooperatively with the administration on shared objectives. We believe our situation gives us unique leverage this year to make progress. Given that last fall political observers gave no chance to a BSA increase, we are already on the way.

Progress on our project to help district administrators (February 3, 2014)

CEAAC’s project to create a new institution to link and support Alaska school districts and build administrative capacity—which we have called the ERSI project—took a major step forward with the completion of our Phase 1 report studying the problems of small district administrators and the best ways to help. Consultant Sarah Sledge presented the report to our Steering Committee on January 23 and received feedback. The report with appendices is posted here. The committee is working with consultant Lora Jorgensen (no relation to Spike) to clarify a purpose statement and a new name (we are retiring the name “Education Research and Support Institute); to develop a program plan and budget; and to identify funding sources. The next Steering Committee meeting is February 27.

Partnership releases survey report (February 3, 2014)

A Northern Economics survey of all Alaska teachers and 750 parents released in January contains a wealth of information about school challenges and how they are perceived from each side of the schoolhouse door. CEAAC participated in designing the survey as a steering committee member of the Partnership for Public Education. We segmented the survey between urban and rural teachers and parents, validating positions CEAAC has been advancing for many years. Some bottom line findings: social problems outside the school are among our biggest challenges, especially issues that make students absent and tardy; housing and quality of life are a major issue for teacher retention in rural Alaska; and school-community connections are problematic, but key to making progress. The report received media attention when it was rolled out at the Anchorage and Juneau chambers of commerce. We will provide the complete report on our site and more detailed analysis in an upcoming update.

Important deadlines: (January 8, 2014)

February 7, 2014: Moore grant applications due February 7, 2014 for Targeted Resources, Teacher Retention, Teacher Retention continuation, and Early Learning.

March 3, 2014: Spike Jorgensen Scholarship.

CEAAC accomplishments during 2013 (January 8, 2014)

Thank you, Executive Board Members Norm Eck, Kerry Boyd, Joe Beckford, Todd Poage and Mike Abbott.

Thank you, Moore Collaborative Committee Members Rhonda Gardener, Brad Allen, Kerry Boyd, Ed McLain, Rich Mauer, Sue Liebner, and Sand Kowalski.

Thank you, ERSI Steering Committee Members Mike Hanley, Jacob Jensen, Brad Allen, Angie Lunda, Richard Kern, Paul Ongtooguk, and Annmarie O’Brien.

Thank you, DEED partners Mike Hanley and Brad Billings.

Thank you staff and consultants Tom Begich, Kristian Dahl, Bill Darling, Jerry Covey, Sarah Sledge, Lora Jorgensen, Lee Clune, Phil Knight, Dale Cope, Laurel Vorachek, Karen Foster, Terri Akey, and Tim Speth.

Thank you CEAAC founders Spike Jorgensen and Howard Trickey.

Scholarship awareness—new URL (December 16,2013)

After receiving many late applications for our scholarship last year, we are making a push to publicize the scholarship this year. The deadline is March 3. Counselor awareness is critical. The first step is our new URL. Please pass it on to your high schools:

Survey results (December 16,2013)

Thank you to superintendents. The response to our ERSI survey was terrific, seeking information for setting up a resource portal to assist your districts. (ERSI is Education Research and Support Initiative.) Thanks to Commissioner Hanley, as well, with helping distribute the survey to all districts. Our response rate was 76%, representing 41 districts. The data is still being analyzed for inclusion in the final Phase 1 report next month, but the highlights are interesting. We found that despite significant longevity in your jobs (43% in their position over 5 years, 62% in Alaska education over 10 years), there is a serious lack of awareness and use of the resources available to districts. One in five had no familiarity with five of the programs available to districts, and many more had never used some key programs. The biggest barrier to accessing programs was lack of time and staff resources for research and implementation. That works directly into the purpose of our initiative, which is designed to link districts to resources with technical assistance. An overwhelming majority of districts said they wanted that help and would use a new CEAAC program: 50% said they would use it weekly, 25% monthly. Only one district indicated no interest in the program.

Project plan, steering committee (December 16,2013)

In March, 2013, CEAAC contracted with Sarah Sledge for a Phase 1 ERSI report to investigate existing resources and district needs and recommend a course of action. Sarah recommended creating a staffed information and support node for district administrators with a web-based portal, to connect districts to resources that already exist and enable collaboration among districts. In September, CEAAC adopted the Phase 1 recommendations. The Alaska Department of Education and Early Childhood Development also joined the project. In November, we retained Lora Jorgensen (no relation to Spike) for Phase 2 of the project, to design the node and find partners for funding, housing, and information technology.

CEAAC has convened a Steering Committee to assist Lora, which will have its initial meeting on December 19. Members of the committee are:

Education Commissioner Mike Hanley
Superintendent Jacob Jensen, LKSD
Superintendent Brad Allen, Kuspuk
Superintendent Angie Lunda, Hoonah
Richard Kern, NEA-Alaska
Paul Ongtooguk, UAA
Annmarie O’Brien, UAA

Amended legislative program (December 16,2013)

To the board from our Government Relations Director, Tom Begich:

This legislation will provide more bonding flexibility by improving potential reimbursement prospects should districts elect to bond for certain projects that are presently languishing on the School Grants Construction List. This will also potentially have the effect of reducing the number of projects on the Construction List over time. A draft of this concept was presented at the September 2013 CEAAC Board meeting and was subsequently approved for inclusion in the Legislative package after review at our November Executive Committee meeting. We will be reaching out to members to testify in favor of its passage.

The Governor proposed no funding for Major Maintenance in this year’s budget proposal. Further, he again draws the Kasayulie Suit school, Kwethluk, from the Rural School Construction Fund. We continue to maintain that these schools should be funded from the General Fund as was intended in the law suit and that the Rural School Construction Fund should be used for the next schools on the list. It is our intent to work to fund those next schools.

Transition of ERSI project (November 19, 2013)

Our project to bring additional capacity to rural school administrations, led by Sarah Sledge, will transition to a new phase with a new leader, Lora Jorgensen (no relation to Spike). We need your help with the project. Sarah and Lora will send out a survey on December 2 (the Monday after Thanksgiving). We need you to respond to this Survey Monkey questionnaire as soon as possible. It will ask about your struggles and needs and will inform our team as we design a program to assist you to do your job. Please do it as soon as you get it. You’ll also be saving staff time in making follow-up calls. The final report on phase 1 and the fundraising efforts for phase 2 will come in January.

Legislative program (November 19, 2013)

Government Relations director Tom Begich has completed the legislative program, which we are posting on the CEAAC website today. The heart of the program is continuation of the work we have already been pursuing, including an increase to the stipend for Residential Learning Centers, which Tom is working on with Jerry Covey and a number of partners. Additional items may be added before the session. We’ll keep you posted. 2014 Legislative Agenda

Work on basic funding (November 19, 2013)

As a leader in a large coalition of groups advocating for basic school support, called the Partnership for Public Education, CEAAC has taken the role of pushing for a specific ask to increase the Base Student Allocation and the state’s funding of pre-K programs. Your executive director and government relations director have engaged in the process of setting the agenda for the business, community and education groups that are planning to speak up in the next session. We feel a BSA increase is a steep challenge this year, but pushing in that direction will yield dividends for the long term.

Annual meeting accomplishments (October 9, 2013)

Here are highlights from CEAAC’s fall board meeting, which was our best attended in my memory:

Complete minutes are available on request.

New partnerships and outreach (October 9, 2013)

In addition to adding members to CEAAC, we have taken a leading role in convening all Alaska education groups and attracting business and community groups to support basic education funding and resist attacks on education in the legislature. CEAAC has joined the Steering Committee of the Partnership for Public Education, which is chaired by Andrew Halcro, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, and has representatives of United Way of Anchorage and NEA-Alaska, and Steve Atwater of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. The partnership as a whole includes dozens of groups. Projects include surveys of teachers and of the general public to produce information that can be used to influence legislators.

Working with AASB and AASA (October 9, 2013)

We reached out to the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) and the Alaska Association of School Administrators (AASA) to create more effective working relationships. Executives of CEAAC and AASB attended each other’s meetings in Anchorage on legislative priorities in Anchorage last month, and shared a meal to discuss common interests. A positive working relationship was established. Our executive board member at large, Todd Poage, who is also the new president of AASA, set up a meeting between CEAAC and AASA leaders which led to a strong sense of shared directions. All of our organizations realize the importance of working together to support funding for schools, ideally through a BSA increase.

ERSI Project moves to next stage (October 9, 2013)

In the spring the board initiated a study to look at how to build capacity for school improvement in district administration offices. Our consultant, Sarah Sledge, quickly learned that resources to address district problems exist, but administrators are overburdened and lack time and information to access what could be available to them. Sarah developed the idea of a portal to help districts share resources and to navigate to help, both electronically and by working with paid staff curating an information bank and reaching out to districts in need. The next step in the project is to form a steering committee—we already have several high-profile volunteers—and to seek funding to develop the portal concept. Sarah’s ideas received a positive reception at our fall board meeting, and from Commissioner Hanley and many other stakeholders. Expect more action soon.

Stipend increase presented to governor’s staff (October 9, 2013)

After the success of the Residential Learning Center project spearheaded by CEAAC consultant Jerry Cover in the 2013 legislature, Jerry is continuing to work on important implementation steps. The purpose of the project is to strengthen small village high schools by providing opportunities for students to spend semester or shorter visits at comprehensive high schools in their regions. Our legislation passed, but without a sufficient increase in the state’s room and board stipend to cover the full cost of the program. CEAAC and our partners have met with members of Governor Parnell’s staff to advance that need, and we are developing a legislative strategy and backup information. Jerry and our executive director have also met with Commissioner Hanley on the timing of application periods for new RLCs to shorten the time from school boards deciding to pursue the idea to the date when they can receive funding.

NEA-Alaska joins CEAAC (September 3, 2013)

Our director, Charles Wohlforth, recently met with NEA-Alaska President Ron Fuhrer and ED Lydia Garcia on the many common goals and interests of our organizations, and their organization has decided to join CEAAC as a dues-paying member. NEA-Alaska was a key member of CEAAC a decade ago, in the first phase of the Moore litigation, but has not been a member since then, although obtaining their membership has been our long-time goal. While we recognize that CEAAC and NEA-Alaska have some issues that we might not agree on, the areas where we do agree are substantial and create great opportunities for partnerships that will enhance efforts on both sides. In particular, CEAAC has already joined with NEA-Alaska on an effort, with many other stakeholders, to bring grass-roots support to increased BSA funding. A designee from NEA-Alaska will attend our board meeting on September 25. Under our bylaws, the board can elect a new non-district, dues-paying member to be a full board member, which will be the recommendation of our president and director. We also will have the same vote to add a designee from our other new non-district member, Cook Inlet Tribal Council.

Elections, updates, and strategy at fall meeting (September 3, 2013)

CEAAC’s fall board meeting is Wednesday, September 25, at 4:30 pm in the Voyager Room at the Hotel Captain Cook. The timing of the meeting is intended to allow superintendents to attend while traveling to the fall AASA meeting, which starts the next morning. Snacks will be served, but the meeting will end before dinner time. Please make sure you have paid your dues before attending. Second invoices are going out this week to districts that have not paid up. The meeting will be a busy one:

CEAAC causes bulge in school construction funding (September 3, 2013)

The Anchorage Daily News ran an article recently, reprinted from the Alaska Journal of Commerce, noting that state school construction funding had risen 18% this year despite a 20% decrease in the overall state capital budget. What the article failed to mention is that the vast majority of the new school construction is a direct result of CEAAC’s successful Kasayulie lawsuit settlement in 2011, combined with our efforts to educate legislators in Juneau over the session. The fiscal situation for Alaska education is not good, but we can count our blessings about how much worse school construction funding would be if we had not pursued this work. Since the suit changed state policy more than a decade ago, the state has spent well over $1.25 billion on rural school construction. The current levels of funding will continue for some time as the settlement continues to yield benefits, even as overall state capital spending shrinks.
Here is a link to the article

CEAAC annual membership meeting (August 16, 2013)

CEAAC will hold its annual membership meeting on Wednesday, September 25, at 4:30 pm in the Voyager Room at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage.

The timing of the meeting is coordinated with the AASA conference in Anchorage, which starts the next morning.

The agenda will include adoption of our legislative program and election of officers.

Please let Charles know if you have questions, or if you would like to attend telephonically or via Skype. We can set that up with adequate notice.

New academic year (August 1, 2013)

CEAAC closed out the year with a small budget surplus and a long list of successful initiatives over the last 12 months. The executive board met on July 30, 2013, to review the annual financial report and make decisions leading up to our fall general meeting, where we will elect officers, approve a legislative program, and hear reports from our ongoing projects, Jerry Covey’s Regional Learning Center project, and Sarah Sledge’s Education Research and Support Institute project. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the AASA meeting, September 26-28. We will have details soon. Members interested in running for one of our offices should contact the executive director or board president Norm Eck.

Membership renewals (August 1, 2013)

Invoices have gone out for membership dues. Please contact Charles with any questions. We have added some new members, and we have not heard from any members planning to drop out. Most exciting, Cook Inlet Tribal Council has joined as a full member, our first member in many years that is a Native organization, which we hope will be the first among many. We are actively recruiting new members that are not school districts to boost our ranks and dues income. And we’re going after several districts that are not members, but should be.

Teacher training (August 1, 2013)

The third of the three major initiatives in our three-year plan is to improve the number and quality of teachers trained in Alaska. It turns out a lot of other organizations around the state are thinking the same way, and CEAAC is actively building partnerships with folks who might not have the same point of view, but share the same goal. Our objective is two-fold: more Alaska-trained teachers (research shows they are more successful and stay longer); and more effective training to address the needs that administrators see in Alaskan schools. The challenge is large, but with many entities recognizing the need at the same time, we will work on bringing together a powerful coalition in support of our ideas. We will be talking about this more over the next year and launching a project in 2014.

Finishing up the year (June 5, 2013)

Districts are in their summer schedules of maintenance, vacations and planning, with some transitions of superintendents to new jobs. At CEAAC we are working on the priorities set by the board: membership, the Covey RLC Project, and the Sledge ERSI Project. Our budget looks good at the end of the fiscal year. It’s a great time to be in touch, as schedules become more relaxed, meet new superintendents, and talk about goals and issues for our organization. Please call or email me at your convenience: Charles Wohlforth, 907-242-2151,

Membership dues amounts and invoices (June 5, 2013)

We will be sending out invoices for next year’s membership dues shortly. We would like to know from each district if you prefer to receive an invoice prior to July 1 or after July 1. Most want the invoice in the new fiscal year, and that is our default, but for some it works better to get funds in the current FY, and we need to hear from you. Dues are based on ADM, which we take from the DEED FY 13 count. Some districts may have good reasons why the ADM reported by DEED is not valid for your district. Please get in touch with us so we bill you the right amount for your dues.
CEAAC Dues 2013 - 2014
DEED Foundation Program - FY1988 through FY2013 - Average Daily Memberships

Moore Grant results, budget, timeline (May 13, 2013)

The dust has settled from this year’s Moore Settlement grant process. I will never forget the challenge of setting up this program and getting the money out to districts. Now it is up to districts to make this support work for your students. A significant portion of the Moore Settlement funds have now been allocated. Here is a link to a spreadsheet (pdf) showing the budget, and the actual allocations for each grant. The only program not shown in its entirety is HSGQE Remediation Reimbursement. To my surprise, this program was very little used—only about $70,000 out of $250,000 claimed for the 12-13 school year—and I will suggest to our board that we ask for the money be reallocated to the more popular programs. The Moore Collaborative Committee has adopted a calendar for future rounds of grants. Except for continuation for one already approved Teacher Retention Grant, we should not have any more deadlines until next spring. Here is the calendar.

New list of 40 schools (May 13, 2013)

The list of 40 schools addressed by the Moore Settlement has changed. The settlement focuses on the 40 schools with the lowest performance, as measured by the EED’s modified index score. This is a score derived by a formula that uses assessments to show student growth. To prevent excessive annual change in the list of 40, we use a three-year average of the index scores. New scores have been calculated by EED, dropping 2009 assessments from the average and adding 2012 assessments. The new list shows a change of 13 schools. Schools that are off the list have seen their achievement levels rise relative to others, while 13 new schools become eligible for these programs.

Grants that already have been approved are not affected, even if the subject schools are no longer on the list, but those schools will not be eligible to apply for new grants reserved for the 40. Schools newly on the list can apply in the next round, in spring ’14, for two-year kindergarten, Targeted Resources, and HSGQE Remediation Reimbursement. The Teacher Retention grant is open to all schools, but the scoring system favors the 40 schools so strongly that they have gotten most of the benefit of the program.

Two districts moved off the list entirely: Kuspuk and Southeast Island. Congratulation! Two districts are new to the list: Iditarod and Kashunamiut. All of those districts are CEAAC members. Of the 12 districts on the list, only two are non-members of CEAAC: North Slope Borough, with two schools, and Southwest Region, with two schools. Here is the updated list of the 40 Moore Settlement Schools.

RLC continuation and access for districts (May 13, 2013)

The Residential Learning Center project, pursued on our behalf by Jerry Covey, moves into a new phase thanks to our success in the legislature, covered in last month’s reports, which are on the website. Jerry will continue to support implementation of the project this year, and will be available to assist districts who want to learn about creating their own RLCs or accessing funds for existing centers. Next year we hope to get a 50% increase to the stipend for boarding students, which would make RLCs more affordable. That was part of our legislation this year, but was left out of the final bill at the last minute. The House Education Committee created a task force to study this and other education issues during the interim, and Jerry will work with that effort. The ball is in DEED’s court for approval of RLCs that already applied; the results of that process have not been announced. Future RLC applications will require extensive work to make sure districts are ready and address concerns Commissioner Hanley recently expressed to us about having high-quality, safe programs. Jerry is available to provide overview information to any interested district and general advice on how the concept works. You can learn more at our RLC webpage, where we will continue posting information over time (click here.) Two districts have already paid into the project—Lower Kuskokwim and Alaska Gateway—and will continue to receive more intensive technical assistance from Jerry. Other districts can buy into the project as well if they want that level of help with pursuing an RLC.

Legislative success (April 15, 2013)

As noted by our leader for the Regional Learning Center project, Jerry Covey, we went in a single year from an idea to legislation enacted into law. The Alaska legislature passed a bill enabling creation of the centers we have been studying and advocating for, where students of small village high schools can get enriched and advance educational opportunities while remaining part of their home school and culture. Jerry will remain on contract to help districts get off the ground with the concept, which is now supported by law and by the Department of Education.

We also passed a bill for a CEAAC priority dating to the Kasayulie settlement, to make sure that small districts can access the rural school construction funding mechanism even if they are not REAAs. This was a challenging process, but it passed unanimously in both houses of the legislature, in a single year, without a single amendment or a single negative vote.

Here is the complete report on these issues and on funding issues for education from CEAAC Policy Director Tom Begich.

Moore grants approved, denied (April 15, 2013)

The Moore Collaborative Committee met Thursday, April 11, to review grant applications for Targeted Resources and Teacher Retention grants. The committee functions independently, with three members appointed by the Commissioner of Education and three appointed by CEAAC. All Targeted Resources applications were approved, including grants for Bering Strait SD; North Slope BSD, Meade River and Nuiqsit Trapper School; Southeast Island, Naukati School; and all the Lower Yukon School District Schools submitted – Sheldon Point, Kotlik, Marshall, Pilot Station, and Scammon Bay.

The contractor, Dr. Phil Knight, had recommended all Teacher Retention applications for schools be approved, but that Bristol Bay’s request be reduced for certain items; he recommend against approval of a request for work at a central office. Instead, the committee approved only grants with applications attaining a cut score of 90 points, which tended to eliminate applications for schools without low achievement scores or low teacher turnover. In addition, Bristol Bay was directed to reapply using a new continuation grant form. Here is a summary of the Teacher Retention applications:

Lower Yukon SD. Approved: Alakanuk, Kotlik, Marshall, Pilot Station, Scammon Bay, Sheldon Point; Not approved: Russian Mission, Hooper Bay, Emmonak, Ignatius Beans, Central Office.

Southeast Island/Hydaburg. Approved: Howard Valentine and Naukati; Not approved: Thorne Bay and Hydaburg.

All other applications were approved:

Southwest Region, Twin Hills. Alaska Gateway, Tetlin. North Slope, Nuiqsit Trapper School. Kashunamiut SD, Chevak.

Here are the minutes from the Moore Collaborative Committee. More details will be included in the monthly update and on-line as they become available.

2013 Spike Jorgensen Scholarship winners announced (April 8, 2013)

From the judges:

The winners of the 2013 scholarship are:

1) Christine Rene from St. Mary's School District
2) Jacinta Matthias from Kotlik - Lower Yukon School District

Please pass along that there were some very good applicants this year and that the committee was impressed with the applicants. It was a difficult decision and we all wish that we had more scholarships to award to these deserving young people.


Board meeting April 11 (April 4, 2013)

All school district members of CEAAC have a voting seat on our board of directors. The board meets April 11 at 3:30 pm in the Adventure Room at the Hotel Captain Cook. This is during the Job Fair. We will be approving the budget and setting next year’s dues, hearing updates on our various legislative initiatives, and discussing our newest initiative, to provide more support to district administrators. We may also have an update on decisions on grants by the Moore Collaborative Committee. Please plan to attend this important meeting, which is guaranteed to last no more than 90 minutes. Those who want to attend telephonically, please let Charles Wohlforth know at least 24 hours in advance and we will provide a conference bridge.

Legislative action (April 4, 2013)

Tom Begich, Jerry Covey, and a number of our members have been working hard in Juneau on our most ambitious package of legislation in years. We’ve seen each of our bills through committee and, as of this writing, one of our bills, SB 47, had made it to the Senate floor in the form that we original supported. That’s the bill that fixes the REAA school construction mechanism that came out of the Kasayulie litigation, making it fair to non-REAA small districts.

We will have a complete update on our activities at the meeting on the 11th.

Important upcoming dates (April 4, 2013)

April 5: Announcement of the winners of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarships.

April 11, noon: Moore Collaborative Committee meets to decide on pending grant applications for Moore Settlement funds, and to set new budget and policy for the coming year. The meeting is in Anchorage at the DEED’s Talking Book Center, 344 West 3rd Avenue, Suite 125.

April 11, 3:30pm: CEAAC Board Meeting, Hotel Captain Cook, Adventure Room.

May 1: Applications due to DEED for HSGQE Remediation Reimbursement. This program reimburses up to $3000 per student for remediation you have already completed to help them pass the HSGQE. Reimbursement is for work done between January 19, 2012, and the present, and applies to students who attended one of the 40 Moore schools for at least a year, who failed the HSGQE in the fall of their junior year or later, and who maintain an 85% attendance rate or better. Go here for a list of allowable activities and a full application form on the CEEAC website.

Time and room set for upcoming board meeting (March 15, 2013)

The next CEAAC Board meeting is in the Adventure Room at the Hotel Captain Cook, April 11, 3:30 - 5pm. Thanks to Alaska Teacher Placement for hosting us at the Job Fair. If any members want to attend by phone, please let Charles Wohlforth know so it can be set up in advance.

Big round of Moore grant applications (March 8, 2013)

The deadline Monday for three of the four Moore grant programs brought in a flood of applications. Here is the initial summary of what came in:

Project approved for Education Research and Support Institute (March 8, 2013)

The CEAAC Executive Board today approved a proposal from Sarah Sledge for phase 1 of a project to study the need for a research and support organization. This is part of our three-year plan. The idea is to give districts the administrative support they need to be more successful, from grant writing to curriculum alignment to consolidated finance work. Many services are already available, but superintendents still feel overwhelmed by the bureaucracy they have to contend with and are unable to access the resources they could be using because of the complexity and demands of their jobs. The phase 1 study will survey the existing resources and learn district needs, finding gaps and communication problems that we could address. Sarah will be with us at our April board meeting, giving you a chance to meet her and share your ideas. Phase 1 will be completed July 30.

Legislative Update (March 8, 2013)

Tom Begich and Jerry Covey have made significant progress with our initiatives for the RLC project and fixing the REAA school construction fund mechanism. Legislation has been introduced in both houses and scheduled for hearings. Additional work is going forward on our other priorities (see Please contact Tom when you are going to Juneau. We have had good success with coordinating our message. Kudos especially to Dave Herbert, of St. Mary’s, who has been particularly effective in working with legislators.

Upcoming board meeting (March 8, 2013)

Our spring board meeting will again coincide with the Alaska Teacher Placement job fair in Anchorage, April 12-13 at the Captain Cook. I will give you a time and room number as soon as I can. We will have updates on each of our projects and will approve dues and a budget for next year.

Many deadlines (February 6, 2013)

The following deadlines are critical for CEAAC members. Most of these will be annual deadlines, and the committee has not approved any late applications so far. In addition, the list of 40 schools will be updated this spring, potentially affecting eligibility. Some districts that miss the deadlines could lose funding worth millions:

School construction legislation (February 6, 2013)

Political Director Tom Begich is working hard on our priorities, which are outlined here. We currently believe we have majority and administration support for our major priority on school construction funding. If we are successful, your districts will get projects funded faster. The issues are complex and relate to the Kasayulie settlement, but we can provide material to inform any members who are headed to Juneau, so your comments to legislators can be in concert with our efforts. When we speak with a coordinated voice, we are all more effective.

RLC project (February 6, 2013)

The benefit of coordination also can back up our work with Jerry Covey’s RLC project. Talking points you can use are attached to this message. On January 24 a number of you met with the CEAAC team, our partners at Cook Inlet Tribal Council, and other invited guests at CITC’s offices here in Anchorage. It was inspiring to see all the support behind this work. Jerry and Tom are working on the legislation with CITC and its lobbyist and multiple school districts.

BSA (February 6, 2013)

Finally, I know many superintendents are looking anxiously at the legislature’s intent on the BSA. The outlook appears bleak. We are supporting an increase to the BSA and have offered our help to coordinate with AASA, which has made it their top priority.

Teacher housing update (February 6, 2013)

CEAAC successfully sponsored a pre-screened proposal to the Moore Committee to use settlement money for teacher housing for schools with high turn-over and low achievement. Former CEAAC co-founder Lee Clune is heading up this effort with rural construction and renewable energy expert Bill Bobrick. The proposal is here. Here’s how it works. Districts review the material, contact Lee or Bill, and then submit a proposal using this pre-approved material for Teacher Retention by March 4. If you get funded, the money pays Lee and Bill to push your project through the AHFC grant process, and potentially to provide matching funds for an AHFC grant. Assuming success at that level, your housing is built summer of 2014, with little outlay or technical oversight by you. Their concept also includes an innovative renewable energy and educational component. It is complicated, but the bottom line is for schools to get housing with minimal cost and minimal administrative effort. But if you want to participate, you need to start immediately.

Prepare for Moore Pre-K and other funds (January 11, 2013)

It is time for districts to apply for the pre-k funding we fought for through the Moore litigation. Other money is also available for these 40 schools and for all other Alaska schools:

Deadline March 4

Deadline May 1

Applications are available at

Need ideas or technical support? The pre-screening process offers districts off-the-shelf grant programs that are pre-approved by the committee. We are currently reviewing another round of vendors, and the full menu will be available on January 28.

Teacher housing (January 11, 2013)

We have brought on consultants to help districts manage the process for building teacher housing with minimal cost or administrative overhead. Alaska Housing Finance Corporation makes grants to build housing. Moore settlement funds applicable to ALL districts with high teacher turnover can be used to match the AHFC funds and to pay consultants to ramrod the projects. We are working on making this easy for districts. Consultants would do most of the work to obtain the grants, plan the projects, and bring housing to your communities. The application deadline is March 4 (see above). For details, contact Charles at, (907) 242-2151

RLC project (January 11, 2013)

CEAAC is advancing legislation in the 2013 session and regulations with DEED to implement the Residential Learning Center project Jerry Covey has pursued on our behalf for the last six months. The project allows districts to bring students from village schools to larger high schools for part of the year, enhancing their learning opportunities while keeping the village school intact and fully funded. The legislation has two parts. It would permit more districts to access boarding school stipend funding and would increase the amount of funding to cover the full costs of room and board. The regulations would permit facilities to operate for portions of a year and within districts (rather than statewide). Jerry has helped many districts get started on pursuing this idea, and these changes would make it possible across the state.

Learn all about the RLC project in a new area of the CEAAC web site, with general explanations and some of the technical detail. We will keep adding to the page to give you a one-stop information source. Go to

Our meeting schedule (January 11, 2013)

We have decided to minimize CEAAC board meetings but increase personal contact with superintendents. Our next full board meeting will be held in conjunction with the Teacher Job Fair in Anchorage around April 11-12. In the meantime, we will be setting up direct contact and conference calls on legislative priorities, so we can work on your needs and you can coordinate with other members’ needs. Stay tuned for notices.

Don’t forget to tell your students about our Spike Jorgensen Scholarship!
Deadline March 1! (January 11, 2013)

Additional Moore grants approved (December 10,2012)

Three CEAAC districts won approval of Teacher Retention grants from the Moore Collaborative Committee December 7. Planned activities range from orientation camps to community liaison to quality of life improvements for teachers. The recipient districts are Bristol Bay Borough, Yupiit, and Northwest Arctic Borough. The committee had postponed action for a month while CEAAC and our advisors created a more objective scoring system, with which three experts scored the proposals. The details of the scoring system we put together are being posted on our website for reference by future applicants. By taking this work on ourselves, CEAAC was able to assure a high-quality product that is fair to our districts. Yukon Flats School District also received approval for a Targeted Resource Grant. The next round of grant applications will be due on March 4. See the Moore Clearinghouse Page for details.

Scholarship update and other new web material (December 10,2012)

We are in the process of updating material all over the CEAAC website. Materials for the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship have been revised and updated for 2013, and are ready for applications from students. Students of all CEAAC member districts are eligible to apply for the two renewable $1,000 scholarships. Send interested students to The application deadline is March 1, with notification to winners on April 5.

Additional round for vendor pre-screened proposals (December 10,2012)

CEAAC and the State of Alaska December 6 issued a Request for Information to vendors and agencies interested in providing services for districts with Moore settlement funds. This is the second round of soliciting ideas that can be pre-screened for districts to use in grant applications. The process has been improved to provide more guidance to vendors and to request information separately that is appropriate for the Targeted Resource or the Teacher Retention program. If you have folks you would like to see pre-screened for Moore funds, let them know about the the official RFI State of Alaska web site. The information is also here on the CEAAC website.

As part of the pre-screening process, we are working on finding ways to leverage a little Moore Teacher Retention money into a much larger amount of AHFC teacher housing and energy money, and to access other potential pools of dollars that could help us build housing for schools. We hope to create an easy A-Z process for getting turn-key projects for districts. Those interested should contact Charles or Lee to find out more about this.

Meeting with Governor Parnell (December 10,2012)

Three representatives of CEAAC met with Governor Parnell and his top education and budget people on November 13 to discuss funding of school construction and our legislation to resolve problems with how Kasayulie settlement funding relates to funding through the so-called REAA construction funding mechanism. Parnell was receptive to some of our ideas and the door was open to do more work with Commissioner Hanley on other concerns. In particular, we feel confident we can get a bill through the legislature to broaden the mechanism so it addresses small single-site districts as well as REAAs, which has been a priority since the Kasayulie negotiations began in 2011. Political Director Tom Begich is leading this effort and will be posting an updated legislative program on the website soon.

RRLC Project advances and setbacks (December 10,2012)

Jerry Covey presented our project for Rural Residential Learning Centers to the State Board of Education on December 6. We also received positive media coverage in the Alaska Dispatch for the project. But even as we have broken through to public awareness with our message, it has become evident that we will need legislation to implement the idea at the level we are hoping. Besides an increase in stipend funding for boarding students, statutes will require an amendment to allow the State Board to approve more than three regional programs. The statutes also contain limitations on the type of boarding facilities districts could use. These issues may push implementation of RRLCs a year into the future.

Committee approves $2.3 million in grants, postpones others (November 7, 2012)

Four districts were unanimously approved for Targeted Assistance Grants by the Moore Collaborative Committee on Monday, November 1, totaling about $2.3 million over the next three years:

Alaska Gateway -- $18,000 per year
Lower Kuskokwim -- $603,200 per year
Yukon Koyukuk -- $27,796 per year (committee member Kerry Boyd recused herself)
Yupiit -- $105,600 per year

A grant for Yukon Flats is still pending. Northwest Arctic was approved in the previous round. North Slope Borough School District (not a member) submitted a grant after the deadline, which the committee will take up in the next round. Eligible districts that have not yet applied for these funds are: Kuspuk, Lower Yukon, Southwest (not a member), Bering Strait, and Southeast Island. We now have addressed about half of the 40 Moore-eligible schools.

The committee postponed consideration of Teacher Retention Grant requests to December 7. Three applications had been submitted, from Northwest Arctic, Yupiit and Bristol Back (all members). The committee and review contractor felt that the scoring system needed work and that we should have three scorers rather than only one. This decision did not indicate prejudice against the applications, but recognition that we need a strong and defensible scoring system before allocating the funds. CEAAC supports this decision. We will be working to develop a scoring guide and team in the coming weeks.

Help for districts to access money (November 7, 2012)

CEAAC has retained an experienced retired superintendent and grants expert, Lee Clune (also one of CEAAC’s original founders) to help member districts obtain money from the Moore Settlement. Lee will be calling superintendents, explaining the program and looking for opportunities that fit district needs, and can even assist with grant applications. You can still call on me, your executive director, for explanations and help, but now you also have Lee, who can actually help you do the work.

Trickey and legal team honored (November 7, 2012)

Members of CEAAC's Executive Board present Howard Trickey with the resolution creating the $300,000 Howard S. Trickey Constitutional Defense Fund. From left: Member-at-Large Mike Abbott, Member-at-Large Todd Poage, Vice-President Kerry Boyd, Trickey, and President Norm Eck.

The Howard S. Trickey Constitutional Defense Fund, created with $300,000 by the board in September, was formally announced at the AASB Rural Caucus meeting on November 1, and received statewide media coverage. CEAAC President Norm Eck and other members of our executive committee presented the resolution creating the fund to Howard, who was joined by legal team members Cheryl Mandala, Jeanine Huston, Rob Sato, and Justice Alex Bryner. Norm also appeared on Alaska News Nightly to discuss the creation of the fund and Howard’s huge role in our success in the Moore and Kasayulie cases. Here is the text of the resolution, remarks from Norm, and an article from Alaska News Nightly:

AFN endorses CEAAC’s RRLC project (November 7, 2012)

The project led by Jerry Covey promoting Regional Residential Learning Centers has moved into high gear, with a major endorsement from the membership of the Alaska Federation of Natives. The resolution text is posted at here. Our partner in the project, Cook Inlet Tribal Council, facilitated the effort: CITC’s CEO, Gloria O’Neill, convened a break-out session on the issue, and presented the resolution to the AFN board and plenary session. Next, Jerry will present the RRLC project to the state Board of Education, which will be a key decision-maker on policy to allow the centers to be funded. As the outlook becomes positive with state officials, Jerry has also been working with individual districts to develop their own RRLCs. During AASB we met with boards from Yukon-Koyukuk and Iditarod Area school districts, and Jerry has already worked with Alaska Gateway and Lower Kuskokwim, and is gathering data from Anchorage, Bering Strait and Northwest Arctic. Since we adopted this as our highest priority new initiative in April progress has gone even more rapidly than we hoped.

Deadline extended for HSGQE remediation (November 7, 2012)

Districts now have until May 1 to apply for funds for remediation expenses for students who failed the HSGQE, and reimbursement will cover eligible expenses from January 19, 2012, onward. The Moore Collaborative Committee clarified these deadlines at its November 5 meeting. Students must have: 1) attended one of the 40 Moore schools for at least one year of high school; 2) failed the exam in their junior or senior year; and 3) met the 85% attendance requirement. Reimbursement covers up to $3000 per student for special expenses outside the regular school day. Details are at

Executive committee actions (November 7, 2012)

The Executive Committee met October 26 to give direction on investing CEAAC funds and to extend the Executive Director’s contract (the board also decided to retain Lee Clune to help with district use of Moore funds, as described above). The committee chose a low-risk, low-cost direction for our investments and requested details following that strategy and a written policy for a future vote. The committee also voted to extend Executive Director Charles Wohlforth’s contract for six months, from January through June 2013.

Grant funds under-used (October 10, 2012)

The October 1 deadline for round two of the Moore Settlement grant programs passed with a shortage of requests from districts for the money. The Teacher Retention program particularly was under-used, with only two applications for a competitive fund budgeted to spend $1 million in the first year. These funds can be used for almost anything that will enhance teacher job satisfaction, other than salaries. The Targeted Assistance Grant Program, which is a non-competitive entitlement to the 40 lowest-scoring Alaska schools, worth at least $1200 per student over three years, has received requests from about half the eligible schools. The next deadline to request funds is November 1, for the HSGQE Remediation Reimbursement fund. That program offers automatic reimbursement of up to $3000 for costs already spent to help juniors and seniors who failed any part of the HSGQE and who attended any of the 40 schools at any time during their high school career. Another round for Teacher Retention and Targeted Assistance is due March 1. Forms and explanations of all the programs are on line at our website, including pre-approved programs that should reduce grant writing time and overhead to a minimum, at

I would be most interested in why more districts didn’t apply. We will be working to make sure superintendents have the information they need, and any help CEAAC can supply. Please let me know what we can do to help!

Trickey to be honored (October 10, 2012)

At our fall meeting, the CEAAC board voted to honor Attorney Howard Trickey by naming our $300,000 legal fund “The Howard S. Trickey Esq. Constitutional Defense Fund.” The fund’s sole purpose will be to defend the constitutional right to education for Alaska’s children. We believe the existence of the fund will serve as a deterrent for those who would shortchange the constitutional guarantee that Howard fought for and won through more than two decades of litigation. The resolution will be presented to Howard by CEAAC President Norm Eck at the rural caucus meeting of the AASB, at 5pm on November 1 in Anchorage.

Covey RRLC project update (October 10, 2012)

At our fall board meeting in Valdez, Jerry Covey gave a full report on the Regional Residential Learning Center project he has been pursuing over the summer on CEAAC’s behalf. His written update is attached. Jerry had made significant progress in working with districts to understand their experience and needs, and working with leaders in the Native community and Parnell Administration to bring about new support for the project. A highlight of the meeting came when superintendents spoke of the impact the part-time residential concept is having in their districts. LKSD Superintendent Gary Baldwin spoke of seeing students transformed into academic high-fliers thanks to their participation in the program in Bethel.

Fall meeting notes (October 10, 2012)

Our fall meeting in Valdez on September 26 was busy and well attended. Here is a short recap:

Fall meeting scheduled (September 5, 2012)

CEAAC will hold a general membership meeting on Wednesday, September 26, at 7:30, in Valdez. We will be in the Mariners Room at the Best Western Harbor Inn, which is the same hotel where the AASA conference starts the next morning. The last Era Alaska flight to arrive before the ASAA conference comes in Wednesday at 6pm, allowing plenty of time to make it to the CEAAC meeting without conflict with the other meeting. For those who haven’t eaten yet, we will have menu service. The agenda will include annual elections, investment policy for our scholarship and legal funds, updates on our settlements and pending legislation, strategy for our new initiatives, and other important work.

A few districts have not paid dues for the new school year. Please make sure to get those payments in before the meeting.

Moore grant process and pre-screened proposals (September 5, 2012)

Notice went out to districts last week for the current round of grants for Moore Settlement Funds. Applications are due October 1 for Targeted Resources and Teacher Retention grants. The Teacher Retention grants are open to all schools, while the Targeted Resources are for the 40 listed schools. Forms and backup information are at this page on our website:

During the month of August, we put substantial resources into pre-screening proposals that you can use for these grants. This concept was built into the settlement at our insistence to reduce the administrative burden on districts. The pre-screening process was arduous, and CEAAC took the entire burden, but we are pleased with the results, which met complete acceptance from EED and the Moore Collaborative Committee. Among these 19 recommended proposals, you may be able to find something that will solve problems for your schools; if so, the grant application process should be very simple, since most of the information needed has already been compiled and approved. The complete report on the proposals is at this link:

As we worked through the pre-screening process, we realized that many of these proposals would be more effective if directed at groups of schools. I stand ready to help districts team up to jointly submit grant applications. I recommend you get started early on that, as you would still need to complete individual applications for the affected schools.

Be on the look-out for a resource page on the CEAAC site for all our grant programs.

Regional Residential Learning Centers (September 5, 2012)

Jerry Covey is continuing to work on the RRLC concept for us. In the last month he made a trip to Tok to meet community members and educators in the Alaska Gateway School District. He will be broadening his outreach to other districts soon, so be on the look-out for an email. Despite our enthusiasm for the concept to bring a deeper high-school experience to village students, we run into concerns from parents who remember the negative aspects of pre-Molly Hootch boarding schools. A big part of Jerry’s project is to answer those concerns with solutions that will avoid the pitfalls of the past and win the backing of Alaska Native leaders and parents. We look forward to your input on this project, which has the potential eventually to transform life for students in every part of the state.

First Moore grant approved (August 5, 2012)

The Northwest Arctic Borough School District received funding as the only applicant in the first round of Targeted Resources Grants available through the Moore v State settlement. The grant for approximately $200,000 will hire two reading specialists to serve four schools in the district. Dr. Phil Knight reviewed the grant and recommended approval to the Moore Collaborative Committee, which approved funding pending completion of a few lose ends to be worked out by Dr. Knight. The process provided a good maiden voyage for our process, which should be smoother for the next round of grants, which are due from districts on October 1. We will have more information for members about applying for these grants in a few weeks.

Membership dues (August 5, 2012)

Notices of dues went out mid-month, and a number of districts have already paid their dues to CEAAC. Our largest member, Anchorage School District, was the first to pay. Dues packets included a letter from our former executive director, Spike Jorgensen, about his continuing support for CEAAC and for the Moore and Kasayulie settlements, and an explanation of what these events mean for the future of education in Alaska. In case you haven’t seen it, Spike’s letter is attached to this update, and will be posted on

Scholarships awarded (August 5, 2012)

The Spike Jorgensen Scholarships have been awarded and paid to university registrars for three students. We received 18 applications for the two new and one renewing scholarship. The winners were Grant Magdanz, of the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, who will attend the University of Washington, and Francis Nicholai, of the Lower Kuskokwim School District, who will attend University of Alaska Southeast. Jalen Paukan, who graduated in 2011 from the St. Mary’s School District, received renewal of his scholarship for his sophomore year at Stanford University. Each award is for $1000. Many thanks to our committee: Spike, Dave Herbert, and Brad Allen. Additional thanks to Brad for helping set up the program, and to CEAAC bookkeeper Kristian Dahl for handling the applications and extensive paperwork.

Help needed to study regional centers (August 5, 2012)

Our project, led by Jerry Covey, to study creation of Regional Residential Learning Centers, is moving forward toward completion of a report in the fall that will help us advocate for additional state funding to give village students an opportunity to study at comprehensive high schools and vocational facilities in hub communities. An important part of Jerry’s effort is to network with community and tribal leaders around the state, hear their concerns, and address the needs of many regions and stakeholders. We need your help to identify the key people in your district Jerry should be talking to. He also wants to explain the concept to members and get your input. Reach Jerry directly at or 522-4558.

First round of Moore grant applications (July 3, 2012)

Considerable behind-the-scenes work by CEAAC, DEED and the Moore Collaborative Committee got the Moore settlement programs off the ground during June. The first round of grant applications went to districts and the application period ended June 29. The committee urged districts to wait for the October 1 round of grants unless already well prepared with their plans. As a result, only one application was submitted, by Northwest Arctic Borough School District, covering four schools. The district requested funding for two full-time reading specialists. Dr. Phil Knight, recently retired from Aleutians East School District, and our former board member, was hired to review and score grant requests for the committee. The committee will meet in teleconference July 23 to hear Dr. Knight’s recommendation on Northwest Arctic’s grant application. He will continue in this role through the entire Moore process, anticipated to last four years

HSGQE reimbursement instructions (July 3, 2012)

Instructions and a simple, one-page form, created with CEAAC input, were released by DEED for the HSGQE remediation reimbursement program under the Moore settlement. Funding up to $3000 is available for any student who attended one of the 40 Moore settlement schools at any time during their high school years, and who failed the HSGQE in either junior or senior year, regardless of what school the student now attends. Activities do not have to be pre-qualified as long as they fit in the program guidelines. Districts can incur expenses and apply for reimbursement later. Deadlines to apply for reimbursement are November 1 and May 1.

Call for vendors for pre-screened grants (July 3, 2012)

With CEAAC’s support, DEED will issue a call for vendors and agencies hoping to provide products or services to districts through pre-screened Moore settlement grants. We have created a standard form for vendors to submit information. We and the Moore Committee will screen the proposals before putting them out to districts with grant applications. Our hope is that this process will reduce administrative burden on districts, by providing you with a menu of grants to choose from, and reduce the amount of unnecessary vendor contact. Please let us know if you have vendors or agencies you would like to have pre-screened. Using this process may save you work later when you apply, because most of the information you need will be provided with the committee already in agreement.

Spike Jorgensen Scholarship (July 3, 2012)

We received an impressive volume of applications for the two Spike Jorgensen Scholarships by the June 15 deadline. Our bookkeeper, Kristian Dahl, is compiling and scanning the applications and checking them for completeness. She will send them to our scholarship committee, which consists of Spike himself, Brad Allen of Kuspuk School District, and Dave Herbert of St. Mary’s School District. We will email all applicants with notice that their applications were received complete, and again with notice of the winners.

Membership renewal (July 3, 2012)

With the conclusion of the fiscal year comes the time for renewal of your CEAAC membership. At our April meeting, the board decided to keep dues the same for the 2012-13 school year. Since we did away with assessments last year, the cost of membership in CEAAC has gone down well over 50%. Our budget is balanced thanks to significant reductions in costs and we have deposited funds to endow our scholarship and as a reserve for future legal expenses. Dues are based on district enrollment. You will receive a letter and invoice for your dues soon. Please let us know if you have any special instructions for how you would like the invoice made out.

Moore Collaborative Committee releases dates, amounts (June 4, 2012)

The committee called for in the Moore Settlement has formed and held its initial three meetings, including an all-day worksession in Anchorage on May 29 that established important parameters on the settlement’s programs to serve struggling schools. As noted in my last update, the members of the committee are Kerry Boyd, Ed McLain and Brad Allen for CEAAC, and Rich Mauer, Sue Liebner and Sandra Kowalski for the state. The non-voting chairperson, chosen jointly, is Rhonda Gardener. After an organizational meeting and listening session for superintendents by teleconference, the committee gathered at the School of Education at UAA for the all-day session.

Here is a summary of decisions made about the four Moore programs.

Additional support for Regional Residential Learning Center project (June 4, 2012)

Our project has received more funding to study, design and advocate for regional residential learning centers: this is the Jerry Covey project to support small rural high schools by providing centralized sites for higher academics and career and technical education for students to attend during temporary residential visits. Pilot sites would be in Bethel, Tok and Anchorage. We have signed agreements with Alaska Gateway School District for a $5,000 contribution and with Cook Inlet Tribal Council for $25,000. Lower Kuskokwim School District is planning to contribute $10,000 and CEAAC will put in $25,000.

State pays CEAAC $500,000 (June 4, 2012)

Through our law firm, JDO, CEAAC has received legal fees payment from the State of Alaska for $500,000, covering litigation that occurred many years ago in the Kasayulie case. At our April meeting the board allocated this funding in our budget for next fiscal year; we followed that guidance even though the money arrived sooner than we expected. After paying about $100,000 in deferred expenses, the money is divided as follows: $100,000 to the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship Fund, and $300,000 to the CEAAC legal fund. Our budget is balanced for the next year without use of these funds. (Note: we are still accepting scholarship applications until June 15. Get the application here.)

Legislative success reported (May 2, 2012)

Political Director Tom Begich’s full report on the legislative session is attached. The session consummated some of our most important priorities, and allowed us to leverage our work into expansion beyond our original goals. Highlights include:

Moore program implementation going forward (May 2, 2012)

A joint letter from our executive director and Commissioner Mike Hanley will be going out to districts soon laying out the process for convening the Moore Collaborative Committee and for creating the first round of programs for schools. The committee’s six members are Kerry Boyd, Ed McLain and Brad Allen for CEAAC, and Rich Mauer, Sue Liebner and Sandra Kowalski for the state. The non-voting chairperson, chosen jointly, is Rhonda Gardener. Three meetings are planned during May: an organizational teleconference, a listening session for superintendents to share their ideas and concerns, and a worksession to adopt policies and pre-packaged grants for the Targeted Assistance Grant and Teacher Retention Grant programs. CEAAC is bringing together a group of consultants to work on program details that can be presented to the committee for adoption. Thoughts from districts on how you would like to use this money would be very helpful now. We MUST make these dollars count. Please forward thoughts to Charles Wohlforth at .

CEAAC adopts three-year plan (May 2, 2012)

Our spring CEAAC board meeting, April 12, saw adoption of a Three-Year Plan covering our priorities for how we hope to transform education in Alaska. The entire plan is linked here. The plan is divided into three types of priorities: continuing efforts, major new initiatives, and areas of support. The major new initiatives are:

The board recognized these are large, ambitious goals that will require many allies and years of effort. However, with success under our belt, it was felt that now is the time for new dreams that can inspire and motivate us and build our base of support.

Partnership supporting Regional Residential Learning Center project (May 2, 2012)

Our first new priority under the Three-Year Plan is to study, design and advocate for regional residential learning centers. These centers will provide support to small rural high schools by providing centralized sites for higher academics and career and technical education for students to attend during temporary residential visits. Jerry Covey will lead the work of developing this idea for support at three pilot sites, tentatively in Bethel, Tok and Anchorage, as well as a framework for a statewide system with sites in many rural hubs. Jerry’s report will incorporate ideas and concerns from stakeholders in many communities with the goal of developing broad support. We hope to present the plan broadly in the fall and to bring forward legislation in January. Cook Inlet Tribal Council has committed $25,000 to this work, to be matched by CEAAC. We will be seeking additional money toward a budget of $110,000. CITC President Gloria O’Niell will take a personal role in working with Jerry and helping us build more support and partnerships among Alaska Native leaders.

Budget adopted, windfall allocated (May 2, 2012)

The board adopted a budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. The budget balances income and spending without a change in dues and without using one-time funds. Savings in reduced legal expenses are applied to increasing expenditure on educational consultants and contract help, primarily to support our new initiatives and the Moore implementation. CEAAC will receive a $500,000 windfall in repaid expenses from the State of Alaska for the Kasayulie settlement. Approximately $100,000 will be spent on deferred expenses and an additional $100,000 will be deposited in a fund to endow the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship. The balance of the windfall will be saved in the CEAAC legal fund. These funds will be invested as a reserve.

Spike Jorgensen Scholarship (May 2, 2012)

The scholarship was created in 2011 to honor the contributions of former CEAAC executive director Spike Jorgensen, and now the board has expanded it to serve more students and to serve them longer. A $100,000 fund created by the board will make the scholarship essentially perpetual. Two scholarships are offered annually, each for $1000. See the application here. Students must attend a CEAAC member district. One of the scholarships is for students from communities under 1000 population. Scholarships are renewable for up to four years of continuous attendance at a post-secondary program with at least a 2.5 GPA. The deadline for this year’s scholarship is June 15.

BREAKING NEWS – Governor signs appropriations for settlements
(March 27, 2012)

Yesterday Governor Parnell signed the supplemental appropriation bill that allocates $18 million to the Moore settlement programs and $500,000 to CEAAC to compensate us for our legal expenses in the Kasayulie settlement. No further legislation is needed to implement the four programs in the Moore settlement, including two-year kindergarten, targeted resources, teacher retention, and HSGQE remediation. The state has also proposed simple regulations to implement the programs. Actual program design will depend on bringing together the Moore Collaborative Committee, which has been delayed by other issues we have been working through with the state. More on that soon. Meanwhile, the attorney fees in the Kasayulie case will go to CEAAC’s bottom line as an organization.

CEAAC spring meeting notice/strategic planning (March 27, 2012)

We are meeting Thursday, April 12, at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. Among our agenda items are a strategic plan and long-range goals, implementation of our legal settlements, and adopting a budget for FY 13 and setting dues for next year. Big stuff. Please plan to attend. The preparation for strategic planning is ongoing; I have had discussions with most members and will continue trying to connect with the rest by telephone or conference call.

Legislative successes (March 27, 2012)

Political Director Tom Begich reports success so far in reversing proposed cuts to programs critical to CEAAC. After the House Finance Education Subcommittee cut funding for the existing pre-k program (formerly known as the pilot program) and for the Alaska Statewide Mentor Project, we objected that those reductions would violate a provision of the Moore settlement. The pre-k funds were restored in the House, with Rep. Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole) supporting reversal of her own amendment, and with the help of Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Haines), Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage). The mentorship money was restored in the Senate, where we also received support for an increase to the pre-k funding above the administration’s request, thanks to Senator Dennis Egan (D-Juneau); that will be resolved in conference committee. This was a challenging issue where we were able to use leverage that the administration did not possess in order to achieve a result we both wanted.

Kasayulie update (March 27, 2012)

We are continuing to work on the issue I highlighted in last month’s update regarding the funding source for the school construction promised in the Kasayulie settlement agreement. Our executive committee has met twice on this subject and we have exchanged a number of letters and phone calls with the administration. Sen. Lyman Hoffman (D-Bethel), who has been CEAAC’s guardian angel and patron saint for many years, is helping resolve this issue for us. However, Political Director Begich reports that our vigorous efforts to make changes to the rural school funding mechanism (part of the Kasayulie settlement) probably will not succeed this session, including our high priority issue of spreading the funds to small single-site districts in addition to REAAs. We continue to focus on money for CEAAC member district schools that have not been addressed by the settlement, both in the new construction and major maintenance list.

Intervention legislation (March 27, 2012)

Bills in the House and Senate to change the state’s policy for intervening in low-performing school districts are lodged in the Finance Committee of each body and are not expected to move. We will update members if the committees move those bills.

Meeting Notice (March 6, 2012)

CEAAC will meet before the Statewide Job Fair in Anchorage, on Thursday, April 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. Room to be announced. The Job Fair is April 13-14. This is a critical meeting for us. More details below

Moore settlement fall-out (March 6, 2012)

The Moore settlement has received a generally positive reaction from legislators with no controversy about funding so far in the legislature. We have opposed action in the House Finance Education Subcommittee to reduce funding for the state’s existing pre-k program and Statewide Mentorship Program, despite strong research data showing the effectiveness of both. Fortunately, the Moore Settlement agreement gives us substantial leverage to have that money restored, as we are entitled to withdraw from the agreement if the legislature reduces spending in similar programs. We have sent that message and appear to have been heard. Political Director Tom Begich has been highly effective in covering these issues.

Public sentiment on the settlement has been positive. I have worked to spread accurate information about it, pushing back against some misconceptions, emphasizing the significant number of students served (more than 4,500 in two of the four programs alone). My essay explaining the settlement was published in the Anchorage Daily News and is slated to be printed again in First Alaskans magazine. Here is a link to the piece, which you may find useful in explaining the settlement in your own communities:

You Executive Board met February 27 and gave me direction for our appointees to the Moore Collaborative Committee, as well as an individual for staff. Given the action in Juneau, we haven’t been able to move forward on that yet, but we should be able to do so soon.

Kasayulie settlement issues (March 6, 2012)

Staff to Senator Lyman Hoffman found an item in the detail of the capital budget (unavailable in the public version) that diminishes the value of the Kasayulie settlement to our districts. In 2010 we won a mechanism in law that equalizing urban and rural school construction funding, to begin in FY 13. But in the Governor’s FY 13 capital budget, the money from the mechanism is directed to a project that the State agreed to fund through the settlement. That clearly was not permitted under the settlement, and we have requested through Commissioner Hanley that the Governor submit his own amendment to fix it. We expect to get that.

We are also pursuing as a high priority legislation to bring Kasayulie benefits to more of our districts. The mechanism currently addresses only REAAs. Our amendment would allow the funds also to go to single-site districts in incorporated areas that have fewer than 300 students. That cut-off nicely covers the districts that are unfairly impacted by the existing language. In particular, it would bring St. Mary’s into funding position much more quickly. We have also taken the position that the money should be allocated to the major maintenance list as well as the new construction list. We don’t think that will require legislation, as we have found legislative history showing it was the intent all along (the statute doesn’t specify either way). With our good relationship with Commissioner Hanley, I’m optimistic we can get this system to work well for members

Strategic planning/Spring meeting (March 6, 2012)

The reaction of superintendents to our small-group teleconferences for CEAAC’s strategic planning has been excellent. So far, I have done six sessions covering 13 of our 22 districts. If you are one of the nine I haven’t had a session with, I will be calling soon. I want to talk to every member before drafting the Strategic Plan that we will be working on at our April 12 meeting. I hope at that meeting to adopt (or come close to) a clear vision for CEAAC’s purpose and primary goals over the next three years, including a new mission statement. This work is critical in the post-settlement period, as we recruit new members and keep old ones.

Issues on the table in this discussion: UA teacher training for quantity and quality, regional high school ideas, funding for at-risk students, creating an education research and support institute, teacher incentives, technology support, impact aid, and other issues.

Intervention legislation (March 6, 2012)

With all else that has been happening, CEAAC hasn’t taken a lead role in other legislation in Juneau, but we have worked at the request of the two Education Committee chairs in the House and Senate with their staffs on their proposed legislation to change how the state intervenes in districts. We have provided information and taken the position that any interventions should be done collaboratively and in line with the orders Judge Gleason handed down in the Moore litigation. We have not supported creating new bodies that would take authority out of the hands of administrators. Nor have we made any statements about increasing graduation requirements. More work needs to be done, but we feel we have helped steer this legislation in a positive direction for districts.

Moore settlement signed (January 27, 2012)

CEEAC's Board of Directors unanimously approved a settlement of the Moore v State litigation on Wednesday, January 25, and signing was completed in Juneau on the next day at a media event in the Attorney General's office, with Commissioner of Education Mike Hanley. Response from lawmakers and the media have been enthusiastically positive.

We will be posting summaries, details and next steps over the coming weeks. For now, here are the key documents:

The settlement

The press release

Attachment A (lists the 40 schools receiving primary support from the settlement)

AP coverage in Anchorage Daily News

Juneau Empire coverage

Fairbanks News-Miner coverage

On Public Radio

On KTUU television

Membership continues to grow (December 6, 2011)

CEAAC gained another new member in November, when the Bristol Bay Borough School District signed up. Superintendent Jack Walsh met several times with our executive director and arranged a face-to-face discussion with his school board when they were in Anchorage for the AASB meeting. Jack joins our board with this new membership. Our renewals for existing members were unanimous, with every district signing on to continue with CEAAC. That means we now have 22 members out of Alaska's 53 school districts. We also have gained two individual members this year. As we continue work in this area, we will be reaching out again for additional district members and developing a strategy to recruit individual members and contributors.

Kasayulie settlement announced (October 6, 2011)

As you’ve doubtless already heard, the Kasayulie litigation was settled with a positive outcome for CEAAC. We have had extensive media coverage and positive feedback from the educational community and beyond for this historic success. Here are some links of interest:

Annual meeting with congratulations (October 6, 2011)

The CEEAC board met to mark the settlement of the Kasayulie litigation on Wednesday, October 5, in Anchorage, and to elect new officers and transact other business. Commissioner of Education Mike Hanley and Representative Bob Herron attended, as did Willie Kasayulie himself. The first part of the meeting was dedicated to marking the historic milestone of the settlement. Outgoing President Howard Diamond and Attorney Howard Trickey also made remarks. Meeting Notes

Annual CEAAC Meeting 2011

Anchorage School District joins CEAAC (October 6, 2011)

After hearing a presentation from CEAAC executive director Charles Wohlforth last week, the Anchorage School Board delegated to Superintendent Carol Comeau the authority to join CEAAC. Comeau let us know Wednesday that Anchorage would join CEAAC and she was elected to our executive board. Anchorage becomes our 21st member and our first large urban district.

Election of new officers .(October 6, 2011)New officers were elected at the annual meeting on October 5:
                President Norm Eck, Northwest Arctic
                Vice President Kerry Boyd, Yukon Koyukuk
                Secretary Treasurer Joe Beckford, Aleutian Region
                Member-at-Large Carol Comeau, Anchorage
                Member-at-Large Todd Poage, Alaska Gateway

Moore settlement update (October 6, 2011)

Negotiations continue with the Department of Education over the settlement of the Moore litigation. After talks that lasted through the summer and into the fall, a summary of the discussion was reviewed by a task force of CEAAC board members and consultants and by Governor Parnell. The next step of the negotiations involves bringing comments from the two sides together and reconvening with attorneys to put together a settlement document. Both sides hope for resolution in time for implementing legislation to go forward in the upcoming session, but many steps are needed before that can happen.

Reduced cost of membership (October 6, 2011)

The settlement talks surrounding CEAAC's litigation have reduced our need for legal services. As a consequence, we have seen a substantial reduction in our annual costs. At the October 5 meeting, the board amended our annual budget with a reduction of $130,000. This includes increases for outreach and consultants to assist with settlement of the Moore litigation. Thanks to the overall budget decrease, CEAAC will not seek assessments from members and will make it through the fiscal year on dues alone. This reduces the cost of membership for many districts by 75% or more.

Settlement talks continue (August 4, 2011)

Our third intensive settlement negotiating session, August 4, brought progress on both the Kasayulie and Moore cases, but agreement has not been reached. We remain optimistic, but finding language agreeable to both sides in the Kasayulie case has proved more difficult than we had hoped. Attorney General John Burns and CEAAC Attorney Howard Trickey have exchanged proposed agreements. After extensive discussion one critical item remains unsettled. The two attorneys plan to work intensively on that language over the next week. On the Moore case, Commissioner of Education Mike Hanley and CEAAC Executive Director Charles Wohlforth have exchanged a series of written conceptual proposals and the two sides seem to be nearing a shared vision for a settlement, but no legal language has yet been drafted and some costs and numerous details have yet to be resolved. The next stage is for Wohlforth to draft a summary of the conceptual agreement to date, which can then be used as a scaffolding to attach details in future talks. Producing revised proposals on several points was a major effort of the last month, which consultant Jim Elliott ably assisted. We have suspended work on further legal filings in the Moore case while the negotiations proceed.

New membership efforts (August 4, 2011)

We continue to work on recruiting new members. Executive Director Charles Wohlforth will appear in September before the Anchorage School Board to discuss membership by the state’s largest district. After he met with Superintendent Carol Comeau and Board President Gretchen Guess on July 21, they agreed to bring the issue to the board with a positive recommendation. Wohlforth is scheduled to meet telephonically with the Bristol Bay Borough School District later this month and has made various other board presentations and contacts with superintendents. We currently have 20 members. We are receiving membership dues for the 11-12 school year, which are now payable.

Begich retained for another year (August 4, 2011)

CEAAC’s political director, Tom Begich, signed an agreement to continue in that capacity for another year, including spending the legislative session in Juneau to track policy and coordinate our members’ interaction with state government. Tom will continue to work under the same terms as last year. By signing a contract now, we are assured of his availability and can use his guidance as we work on the settlement negotiations.

Grant writer comes on board (August 4, 2011)

Schatzie Schaefers has joined CEAAC as a grant writer to advance our efforts to obtain funding from sources other than members. Schaefers, a playwright, has had success obtaining grants for local arts organizations. She is working with Executive Director Charles Wohlforth on two tracks. In pursuing national grants, she has screened foundations to find those whose mission matches CEAAC’s, and we are now networking with Alaskans who can help us access those foundations. On the local level, we are meeting with key individuals with the ability to direct grants or help open doors. Schatzie is also gathering statistics and developing narratives to back up our requests.

Settlement negotiations (July 2, 2011)

CEAAC attorney Howard Trickey and your executive director (me) met with Attorney General John Burns and Commissioner Mike Hanley Thursday, June 30, for three hours. The negotiations were productive and collegial with major progress made. On the Kasayulie case, agreement is close enough that Howard will draft settlement papers to exchange with the state. There doesn't appear to be any barrier to concluding the case within weeks, although the devil is in the details. On the Moore case, Hanley came with substantive ideas that were responsive to CEAAC's settlement proposal. After extensive positive discussion of the ideas, the two sides agreed to develop more details on the concepts and exchange them mid-month, to be followed by another negotiating session August 4 with the same four participants.

Capital budget (July 2, 2011)

Governor Parnell did not veto schools for Quinhagak and Napaskiak. He did veto Kivalina, which was not a surprise given the erosion issues for that new school. It appears obvious his decision was influenced by our settlement talks, which would likely have collapsed if he had vetoed these schools. The governor vetoed about half the major maintenance items the legislature approved from DEED's prioritized list. Political Director Tom Begich indicates legislators are already talking about making extensive appropriations on that list next year if Kasayulie is resolved.

Settlement discussions begin (June 7, 2011)

After a long series of exchanged letters and delays, CEAAC Attorney Howard Trickey and Attorney General John Burns met face-to-face for an extended private meeting on June 2. The CEAAC Executive Board met June 3 to hear Howard's report and authorized further meetings including a very small, high-level group, which will continue on June 8. The discussions will include both the Moore and Kasayulie cases. No formal structure for talks has been established, but the principals are eager to move forward rapidly with only the most essential people involved.

State files insulting brief (June 7, 2011)

The state filed a brief titled "State's Reply in Support of Its Notice of Compliance" on May 23, again asserting it has met all of Judge Gleason's orders in the Moore case. CEAAC members who have read the brief and supporting affidavits were upset and insulted, as the state's lawyer and Department of Education personnel didn't limit themselves to explaining why they felt they had achieved success in fixing rural education, they also attacked our districts and their personnel on a variety of fronts, from educational to financial. The brief asserts that Moore's plaintiffs do not have the benefit of children at heart, but are pursuing the case to manipulate the system for their own financial benefit. CEAAC is preparing a response while avoiding being baited by the outrageous comments in the brief. We will concentrate on settlement.

CEAAC adopts budget for 11-12 (June 7, 2011)

A budget was adopted June 2 for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The budget shows significant reductions from current year outlays, with a cut of almost 25%, while continuing all current activities. The board achieved the savings by reducing expenses, focusing on core activities, and anticipating a reduced level of legal effort. Our recent addition of new members also helps balance the budget, and our addition of a grant writer is hoped to bring in additional revenue and capacity to CEAAC. As currently projected, and accounting for a current year deficit, dues and assessments will have to remain the same in the coming year to remain in the black. The board does not expect to meet again in person until the fall, but plans to have a summer teleconference and proxy voting on issues that may arise.

Jorgensen honored with scholarship (May 16, 2011)

CEAAC met April 14 in Anchorage for a general meeting covering legislative, legal and organizational matters. The meeting opened with a presentation recognizing former Executive Director Spike Jorgensen’s service to CEAAC over many years. Spike retired from our leadership at the end of 2010, but remains as an advisor. The CEAAC board approved creation of an annual scholarship in Spike’s name, and the first recipient was awarded, Jalen Paukan, of St. Mary's, a Yup'ik student who is attending Stanford University in the fall. The scholarship is an unrestricted $1000. Spike received a plaque and gave an inspiring speech which brought more than one standing ovation. Spike declared his intent to contribute to the annual scholarship as well.


Legislature ends with a fizzle (May 16, 2011)

A report from Political Director Tom Begich:

While we were able to make progress on a number of fronts, the Legislative process bogged down over debates between the Governor and the Senate over oil taxes and between the House and the Senate over the Capital Budget. While talks continue on the budgets, there is no immediate end anticipated for the Special Session.  There was talk that the Session would adjourn then reconvene in July to pass a Capital Budget, but that no longer seems in the cards as the House elected to forge forward with trying to resolve the budget issues.
CEAAC has a number of projects in the Capital Budget, including funding for the next three schools on the school construction list. 
In Legislation, Pre-K bills in the House moved to the Finance Committee where they are being held for the interim, though with the support of a majority of the Committee.  We should see action on these early in the next Session. Companion bills have now been introduced in the Senate as well.
The Rural Caucus in the House has also introduced two pieces of legislation that begin to address our needs for instructional support and teacher retention, though they require work.  We expect to begin moving these next session as well.
Finally, Representative Alan Dick, Chair of House Education, did secure passage of legislation that will begin the development of culturally-based curriculum.  We expect to hear more about this over the interim and will keep members apprised of this and other progress.

New members and changes to dues (May 16, 2011)

Two new districts have recently joined CEAAC, the Yukon-Koyukuk and Chatham school districts, bringing our membership to 20. We are in touch with more districts and organizations we hope to join. Every district in Alaska received a detailed membership packet with a DVD and background on our organization in early April. To make membership more attractive, we adopted a new dues structure. The new dues are lower for the smallest districts, making up for that with higher dues for the largest districts. In addition, dues were added for non-voting members, individuals, businesses and organizations. We are holding a sale on dues for new members. Through August, new members can join at the lower of the old or new dues for their district size. Renewing members will shift to the new dues structure as of July 1.

CEAAC to meet in Anchorage April 14 (March 30, 2011)

CEAAC will hold a membership meeting at the teacher job fair in Anchorage, at the Hotel Captain Cook, at 7:30pm on April 14. Prospective members are welcome to the first half of the meeting, but make sure to RSVP a week early so we order enough meals. The agenda will cover CEAAC’s current activities and legislative efforts. The second half of the meeting is for paid CEAAC members only, and will cover our litigation settlement talks.

Settlement proposal submitted (March 30, 2011)

CEAAC sent a formal settlement proposal to Attorney General John Burns to resolve the Kasayulie lawsuit on March 2, 2011. The proposal remains confidential, but offers to settle all aspects of the case, which has been pending for 14 years. To learn more, see Legal