Yupiit School District Newsletter

Elitnaurvit Atanrata Qanemcit

What's Going on in the District?

February 2020

Spring is quickly approaching as the weeks seem to be flying by. Someone came into my office yesterday and said "Whoopee, tomorrow is Friday!" It seemed like it should be a Wednesday! We are quickly moving fast and before we know it our seniors will be graduating as diplomas, caps and gowns were ordered yesterday.

Each month we hold a board meeting that is open to the public, and at that meeting all directors and myself bring the board up to date on what has happened and going to happen in our district. I invite all of you to pay attention to the posted bulletins in the village entities and join us. If you cannot be in our meetings then please go to our website and read the board reports that are posted there.

Your School Board selected four main goals for all staff in the district to accomplish over the next 5 years. We refer to this as our Strategic Plan. These four goals are:
1. Students Succeed Culturally and Academically
2. Community, Parents, and Elder Involvement
3. Staff Recruitment and Retention
4. Education System Change

From these goals the District Leadership Team and the Board have developed action steps to accomplish these goals. I would like to share with you the action steps and accomplishments we have made since last February.

1. Students Succeed Culturally and Academically
  • Instruction is our priority which includes principals, teachers, paras and district wide support. This year we budgeted $8,741,194.00. We are proposing an additional 1 million for next year.
  • We have purchased a new Houghton Mifflin Reading program and trained teachers to use it. Children have reading books!
  • We hired a literacy coach teacher in all three schools who are helping teachers and students with Reading intervention.
  • Next school year we will be adopting a new Math curriculum with set aside funds of $140,000.
  • We are registering now for Kindergarten and PK (4 year-olds) at each school.
  • Every month our students in Jr High and HS are traveling to Anchorage for EXCEL ALASKA participation.
  • We have been awarded 3 million for our Alaska Native Education Program. If you have not met our Director , Matthew Turner, you need to do so or attend the board meeting on Friday February 21, at 1 pm to listen to his plans for the future at all three schools.
  • Akiak is doing hydroponics. Growing vegetables indoors.
  • Tuluksak has a small engine program open to the village to work on snowmobiles and 4- wheelers. They also have a village washing machine program that Principal Bushey can share with you as it was recently published in the state newsletter.
  • Janice George, your Yupiit Education Coordinator has been charged with working on the Yupiit Curriculum for the district and HS courses for credit.
  • Last May all personnel were invited to Anchorage for a district-wide planning meeting for this school year. The meeting was not only beneficial for meeting new principals but we worked with the state coaches and the Deputy from the Commissioner's office in planning. Much of this bill was paid for by the state.
  • Teachers are traveling to various states for Professional Development courses to enhance their growth potential. Staff went to PowerSchool training, Literacy coaches went to Garden Grove, CA for LLI training, and many conferences have been held in Anchorage.
  • Each school has access to Acellus (online courses) for credit recovery courses. Students motivated to graduate on time or early can do it with this program and teacher assistance.
  • We purchased increased bandwidth from GCI for $200,000 this school year.
  • Several programs have been licensed online for enhancement of the curriculum, Health Great Body Shop K-8, Read Naturally, LLI, and Acellus.
  • I signed an MOA with Caliste Corporation for enhancement of the HS graduate program.
  • The ANE grant is funding a Summer Fishing Camp experience for students district wide. It will be held in Akiak for credit.

2. Community, Parents, and Elder Involvement
  • Prepared a board calendar with scheduled meetings shared with the community.
  • Conducted Community Meetings (We have called meetings of all parents in each village).
  • Review of job descriptions with employees (Some jobs have had title changes and changes in descriptions for the purpose of office efficiency and clarification of roles).
  • Janice George and Matthew have met with Tribal Councils as it is our hope to develop working relationships for the good of the students. One such meeting was held in Akiachak to discuss student attendance).
  • The budget is shared with the public and invited to attend meetings.
  • Meetings are being held with Headstart and RurAL CAP in each village considering the 4 year old students. Next meeting is in March.
  • GED program is offered at each of the schools (online).
  • This year the budget handled $845.00 for wrestling gear.
  • Each school has been charged with increasing student attendance.
  • The sports/athletic budget thus far this year including travel is approximately $157,958.00 .

3. Staff Recruitment and Retention
  • Anthony Graham has been hired as Human Resource, Strategic Planner and Technology Director (Bonnie James, our HR Specialist will be working with Anthony).
  • Bamboo HR is a new online system for recruiting and on-boarding new teachers to the district.
  • Teacher housing was reduced in half to encourage teachers to come and remain in our villages as well as an increase in their pay scale.
  • Meritain, our medical insurance policy has been improved for all staff.
  • We have plans to overnight new hires in Anchorage on August 2nd to orient them to the district and help them with 'Bush Orders" before arrival to their villages.
  • The district has renewed the teacher housing lease with the Kokarmuit Corporation in Akiak. Plans are being made with our Maintenance Department to add additional housing this summer in Akiachak and Akiak for teachers.
  • The district will pay for in and out flights for all teachers each year from Bethel to village beginning next school year.
  • Assistant Principals were hired this past year as instructional leaders in each school.
  • The principal/administrative pay scale is being reviewed to correlate with surrounding districts.
  • Maintenance Department has worked tirelessly to upgrade, refurbish and repair teacher housing. Several houses were painted last summer and brought up to OSHA standards.
  • Maintenance plans to work on houses in Akiak and Akiachak to remodel for additional teacher housing.

4. Education System Change
  • Our current HR hiring process and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) have been reviewed and changes in place for this year and next.
  • Our SPED records are now on a program titled, PowerSchool SPED.
  • We have initiated a new purchase order program to track purchase orders and improve our accounts payable department. School secretaries have been trained to use this program to order all school supplies.
  • All schools were painted (interior) last summer.
  • The School Calendar has been planned for SY 2020-2021 with consideration for moose hunting, Slavic Celebration, and teachers leaving at Christmas will be able to purchase cheaper flights, and have 3 weekends and 2 weeks of vacation time.
  • We are budgeting $210,000 for new PA systems in each school. This is a matter of improving school safety. Cameras have been installed for school security in some schools with plans for all three.
  • Replace and upgrade of the telephone system and office machines (copiers).
  • LASB and Principals in each village were charged with conducting celebrations, recognition assemblies, and Education Fairs in each village. Last year Akiak's fair was a fun day for all in the village.
  • To help and assist the district office, the business office has added Bamboo HR, Black Mountain Accounting software, and Time Clock Plus.

"I am honored to serve as your superintendent and looking forward to continuing the great things happening in YSD".

Cassandra Bennett, Superintendent

Contact Information

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Each school has a Facebook page so I encourage you to drop in and see what the schools are doing;