SPREADING HOLIDAY CHEER – Paulla Hardy holds up a wind-up sock monkey at the Pioneers Home as Skye Workman helps resident Martha Howard pick out gifts from a table this morning. For the past seven years Hardy has been going to yard sales throughout the year and purchasing items which she then takes to the Pioneers Home around Christmas-time for residents and staff. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

UA Regents Reject Plan To Form One University

    FAIRBANKS (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents has rejected a proposal to consolidate the state’s three separately accredited universities into one.
    State lawmakers last session included language in the operating budget asking regents to consider a plan for a single accredited institution and to prepare a report by Dec. 1.
    The board last month sent a letter to the Alaska Legislative Finance Division announcing its decision, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported  Wednesday.
    The board supports maintaining three separate universities under the larger University of Alaska system, regents Chair Sherri Buretta said in the letter.
    The board took substantial steps in considering consolidation, Buretta said. A group of “distinguished Alaska leaders” considered options. A regents subcommittee reviewed the issue. The board held workshops that convened more than 200 administrators and faculty to explore options and heard from more than 3,900 faculty, students, alumni and community members in an online survey, Buretta said.
    Regents decided consolidation was not in the best interest of the university system at this time.
    “The board is still aggressively pursuing other means to reduce costs and increase efficiency, including consolidation of administrative functions across the system, clarification of roles and responsibilities between the BOR and the universities,” the letter said.
    The university also is focused on increasing revenue, she said.
    “If the BOR chooses to actively consider single accreditation in the future, it will direct the president by formal action to do so and will include in that direction the requirement of an independent cost benefit analysis,” Buretta wrote.   

Gov Seeks Public Input On Native Tribal Schools

    ANCHORAGE (AP) — Alaska’s governor wants public input on an upcoming bill to set up a legal framework for Alaska Native tribal governments to operate K-12 schools, officials said.
    Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy plans to introduce the bill during the next legislative session, The Anchorage Daily News reported  Wednesday.
    Tribes would be asked to enter into agreements with the state called compacts to operate the schools, education officials said.
    The state education department plans to hold a series of community meetings this month and in early 2020 to hear Alaska residents’ comments and questions, officials said.
    “This is a new thing, and we want to make sure we’re going about it in a way that engages the public and our tribes,” said Joel Isaak, a tribal liaison for the education department.
    The schools would be open to all students and “offer a unique, culturally rich combination of Western and millennia-old tribal educational models,” the education department said.
    Dunleavy believes compacts with Alaska’s tribal governments could improve academics, such as helping students reach benchmarks in reading and math.
    “I think this is an opportunity to involve the tribes in the educational process of their tribal members,” he said.
    The compacts are not cost-saving measures, but rather an effort to improve academic outcomes from school attendance to dropout rates, education department Assistant Commissioner Niki Tshibaka said.
    Supporters hope the education system will improve if tribal governments are given the choice to have more control over schools.
    “This is as much about empowerment as it is about schooling,” said Sandra Kowalski, a state board of education member.
    The new model could mean more culturally relevant lessons and community involvement in classrooms, which could contribute to better student performance, advocates said.
    “I believe if our students see themselves in the educational system, and their values and their cultural beliefs are represented in their learning and their school, they have a better sense of achieving in life and our academic outcomes will also improve,” Kowalski said.   

Fisherman Gets $35K Fine, Jail In SE Violations

ANCHORAGE (AP) — A southeast
Alaska commercial fisherman convicted
of fishing in a state research area has
been sentenced to 30 days in jail and
fined more than $35,000.
Alaska State Troopers say 45-yearold
Jonathan McGraw Jr. of Naukati
Bay pleaded guilty last week to fishing
in closed waters of Whale Pass and
providing false information on a fish
ticket. Both are misdemeanors.
Wildlife troopers determined that
McGraw in late 2017 and early 2018
harvested sea cucumbers in the research
area where commercial diving
is never permitted.
He was fined $35,228. The fine
matched the value of the sea cucumbers
caught on seven occasions and totaling
7,506 pounds (3405 kilograms).
McGraw will lose his commercial
fishing privileges and be on probation
for one year.

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