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Leadership Matters: Meet Our Board of Education
Leadership Matters: Meet Our Board of Education
Tamara Van Wyhe, Superintendent
Thursday, November 29, 2018

Leadership Matters: Meet Our Board of Education

When asked what comes to mind when one hears the word “school,” most folks’ thoughts land on words like students, teachers, classrooms, homework, sports, activities, and other elements of education that we all experienced as students ourselves. One critical element of a successful school district that may not be among the first things that pops into one’s head is a dedicated and informed Board of Education. This week’s column focuses on the CRSD’s school board and its important role in shaping education for students in our schools and programs.

In a nutshell, the local school board’s statutory duties may seem fairly simple. They can be boiled down to four major responsibilities, including hiring and evaluating a superintendent, creating and adhering to board policy, creating and monitoring a budget, and approving district curriculum. On paper, the list is short; in reality, however, the tasks involved in serving on the local Board of Education are many!

Our seven elected Board members represent residents of the district’s two “sections.” Representing Section 1 (northern part of the CRSD) are Greg Biddle (Seat A, expires in 2020), Jaime Matthews (Seat B, expires in 2021), and James Fields (Seat C, expires in 2021). Representing Section 2 (southern part of the district) are Joshua Scott (Seat D, expires in 2019), Rebecca Schwanke (Seat E, expires in 2021), Katrina Church-Chmielowski (Seat F, expires in 2020), and Anna Bell-Hand (Seat G, expires in 2019).  

Our Board members are busy people! They attend monthly meetings of the full Board of Education (usually held on the first Tuesday of each month), and they serve on various committees focusing on personnel, curriculum, policy, negotiations, budget, transportation, and activities. In addition, they attend trainings, workshops, and conferences at the local, state, and national levels. They attend school events and activities and are honored guests at graduation ceremonies. They are listening ears for stakeholder concerns, and they help to spread the news about all of the great things happening across the district, as well. They work hard, and we are tremendously appreciative of their willingness to serve on our school board.

Contact information for each member of our district Board of Education is available on the district website at www.crsd.us/board-of-education. Board President Jaime Matthews is a great go-to for specific school board questions, and Naomi Stickney, Secretary to the Board, is available to provide general information related to school board meetings, how to run for the Board, etc.

Thank you to all current and past members of the CRSD’s Board of Education! You are (and have been) critical to our forward-motion and success as a district, and your willingness to serve is greatly appreciated!

The Copper River School District’s seven-member Board of Education paused for a photo at their November 13th work session. Pictured L to R: Becky Schwanke, Greg Biddle (Clerk), Katrina-Church-Chmielowski (Vice President), Joshua Scott, Jaime Matthews (President), James Fields (Treasurer), and Anna Bell-Hand.

In addition to the elected members of the Board of Education, two student representatives are selected to serve on the Board each year via an application process. Student Board reps attend meetings, provide monthly updates on the schools they represent, and participate in leadership trainings during the Alaska Association of School Boards annual fall conference and during visit to Juneau during the legislative session. At the completion of the one-year term, each student Board rep receives a $1,000 scholarship. During the 2018-2019 school year, Glennallen junior Celia Chmielowski (left) represents Glennallen School and Upstream Learning, and Kenny Lake senior Nikki Friendshuh (right) represents Kenny Lake and Slana Schools.

During the recent election, five CRSD Board of Education seats were up for election -- three due to regular election cycle openings and two due to partial-term vacancies resulting from Board members moving from the area. On October 24th, Board of Education Vice President Katrina Church-Chmielowski swore in returning and new Board members in the District Office Board room. Pictured from L to R: James Fields, Anna Bell-Hand, Jaime Matthews, Becky Schwanke, and Joshua Scott.