Superintendent Dr. Robert Bolen
Superintendent Dr. Robert Bolen
907.624.4261  |  bbolen@bssd.org

Admin Assistant, Marty Towarak
907.624.4275    |    martyt@bssd.org

May 18, 2018

I want to thank all the teachers, certified and classified, maintenance staff, kitchen staff, students, parents, volunteers, community members, and everyone else for their work this year educating our children across the district. I would like to thank the Board for supporting and approving funding for programs that provide multiple opportunities for our students to have unique experiences. We look forward to continuing our efforts next year. I wish everyone a restful and safe summer. Until August....

Legislative Update
The 2018 legislative session closed very late on May 12th (or more accurately very early May 13th!) at approximately 1:48 am! The Alaska House of Representatives joined the Alaska Senate in adjourning the Second Session of the 30th Alaska Legislature Sine Die on the 118th day of session just ahead of the Constitutional 121-day session length. The term "Sine Die" refers to proceedings that have been adjourned with no appointed date for resumption.

SB 142 FY19 Capital Budget -​ Last Saturday night, the House Finance Committee rolled out a newvCommittee Substitute (CS) that included the following investments in public education:
$24,203,372 for Major Maintenance Grants (covers the top five projects on the list);
● $2,250,000 for AHFC Teacher, Health & Public Safety Professionals Housing;
● $6 million for Pre-K Grants ($3 million for additional pre-k grants for FY19 and
   $3 million for FY20);
● $20 million one-time K-12 increase to the per-student funding formula for FY19
   (Approximately $78 BSA equivalent).

HR 7 Public School Safety Resolution - ​This resolution was built in collaboration with ACSA. The resolution outlines three areas to support school safety: 1) Increased training for public school employees and enhanced coordination with local enforcement agencies and first responders; 2) Enhanced mental health, SES and support services; and 3) Increased access to school safety measures such as infrastructure, public safety officers, and emergency planning. Read press release here.

HB 212: REAA & Small Municipal School Fund​ - School construction/maintenance grants.This allows rural school districts to tap a construction grant program for major maintenance projects. It covers both new construction and maintenance.

HB 233 - Encourages education facilities investment by extending targeted tax credits - ​This bill extends the education tax credit program from December 31, 2018 to January 1, 2025 and ensures that the credits in statute today will continue to support education institutions.

HB 287 - Early funding for Alaska public schools for Fiscal Year 2019 and Fiscal Year 2020 (SB 26)​ - providing districts with budget certainty and educators with job stability.

SB 104 - ​ directs the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) to review curricula from across the state, nation and world and recommend the best curricula for Mathematics and English/Language Arts. The bill also provides funding for a Pilot Project to test the chosen curricula in 4 school districts, 2 urban and 2 rural, for a three-year period. If the State Board of Education adopts these curricula, school districts may use the DEED-reviewed curricula and save money by not having to review curricula on their own. This may help smaller districts put their funding towards other needed areas. DEED was supportive of this bill which will fund three positions at DEED to assist in curriculum review. It is all voluntary. SB104 was amended by Rep. Spohnholz to establish a marijuana education and treatment fund, and 25 percent of the revenue generated by the marijuana tax will be deposited into this fund. The fund will be for youth marijuana use prevention, and one of the allowed uses of the fund will be to provide recreational, educational, and character-building programs for youth outside school hours.

SB 78 and HB 213​ - Sen. Click Bishop came up with a interesting way to raise money for
K-12 schools: a raffle using the permanent fund dividend. SB 78 would have created a program where recipients of a PFD would be able to purchase raffle tickets with a large portion of the proceeds going to fund K-12 schools on top of what’s already made available through the state’s funding formula. The Senate Rules Committee met Saturday afternoon in order to add  SB 78 to House Bill 213, which deals with the public school trust fund.The combined legislation passed the Senate 19-0 and the House 26-14.

SB 185 - Reemployment of Retired Teachers and Administrators​ - passed the bill with no amendments. It passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 37 to 1, for a combined vote of 56 to 1. The bill is on its way to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

About Dr. Bolen:

Superintendent Bolen is in his 16th year in public education, having spent the first nine years in Florida, and the last seven with the Bering Strait School District. His teaching career includes classroom experience in high schools, school-to-work programs, and alternative education. Dr. Bolen served two years as the Assistant Principal in Savoonga, one year as the Coordinator of Federal Programs and Professional Development in Unalakleet, and then three years as Principal in Savoonga.  He began this school year as Principal in Saint Michael, before being named Interim Superintendent in November. Dr. Bolen was officially named Superintendent of the Bering Strait School District following the February 10, 2015 Board meeting. Dr. Bolen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Sport Sciences from the University of Florida, and a Masters and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida. In addition, Dr. Bolen holds a Superintendent Endorsement from the University of Alaska – Anchorage.

Dr. Bolen leads and manages through collaborative decision-making and facilitative delegation. He relies on dedicated professionals working together to meet the best interests and needs of the students and communities. Dr. Bolen holds individuals accountable for their actions and decisions in keeping the best interests and mission of the district at the forefront of their decision-making process. Dr. Bolen believes in using current data to analyze, plan, and implement curriculums and programs that are most beneficial to the school system. School districts should engage in a cycle of ongoing self-assessment, designed to be used for continuous improvement in teaching and learning.

Dr. Bolen believes that the Bering Strait School District is a special creation of each of its communities.  Its teachers, students, parents, counselors, and administrators should be partners in learning with other members of the school community, and all should be treated with dignity.  All are valued, honored, encouraged, and supported in their development. There is no such thing as a district blueprint or a concrete prescription for a good school or district. Dr. Bolen believes that exemplary districts share powerful guiding principles that are widely accepted even as they take different shapes in practice. With a clear academic focus, teachers choose from a wide range of strategies to promote student learning. A core set of skills and knowledge, for all students, is clear and explicitly stated by teachers, students, parents, and community members.  They should all be able to answer the questions “What are you doing?” and “Why?”

Dr. Bolen believes a district should hold itself accountable for ensuring that all students can demonstrate quality standards in all knowledge areas. It should use appropriate forms of assessment that reflect high, public standards for learning and document student progress and achievement. It should report frequently and publicly to parents and the community on how well the district is meeting its stated outcomes.

Finally, Dr. Bolen believes that it is the responsibility of every educator to meet the unique educational, emotional, social, and physical needs of our students. Never before has the responsibility been greater.  Preparing students for the tasks of a new century and beyond is an awesome mission, and one that is not to be taken lightly.