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Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Unalaska’s John Conwell has been named 2018 Alaska Superintendent of the Year.

On Thursday, the longtime leader of the Unalaska City School District received the news at the board of education’s first meeting of the new school year.

“I can’t tell you how honored I am," said Conwell. "You always sit back and think these sorts of accolades aren’t that important, but when you do get one, it’s sort of nice.”

Berett Wilber/KUCB

Before school let out for the summer, Unalaska students had one final task: releasing hundreds of salmon fry into Iliuliuk Creek. A small army of elementary students crested the riverbank, clutching styrofoam cups.

“No running! We don’t want the fish to fall out of the cups,” one teacher warned, as kids made their way down to the water.


The students leaned in close, tipped their cups, and poured tiny streams of coho into the creek.

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

The fate of public education funding is still undecided as the Legislature works overtime on the state budget.

On Thursday, that left Unalaska’s school board trying to settle their finances as much as possible before the start of summer break.

Expenses rose this year at the Unalaska City School District, as a result of maintenance projects and increased retirement costs. Still, Superintendent John Conwell said the fund balance has remained steady at $1.2 million.

Alaska Requests Waiver For Standardized Testing

Jun 21, 2016

Alaska’s Department of Education wants the federal government to waive last year's standardized testing requirement.

Last year’s Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) testing was plagued by a string of problems, including a severed fiber optic cable at the state’s testing service provider in Kansas, home of vendor AAI. That incident created significant technological challenges which led to the cancellation of the tests.

Alaska Names New State Education Commissioner

Jun 20, 2016

Dr. Michael Johnson is Alaska’s new State Education Commissioner. The State Board of Education announced the unanimous decision last week, and Governor Bill Walker has approved the appointment.

Johnson has served as President of the Alaska Superintendents Association and has spent a large portion of his career as an educator in rural Alaska. He is a recipient of the prestigious Milken Educator Award.

He begins work July 1st.