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Jerzy Shedlock

The Arctic Innovation Competition -- dubbed Alaska’s original idea contest -- draws entrants from around the world but a handful of creative students from a remote Alaska island have matched the best of such populous countries as Indonesia and Egypt. The students hail from a small school district on Prince of Wales Island, which is injecting new ideas into rural education.

University of Alaska Fairbanks business administration Professor Dr. Ping Lan created the international competition in 2008. Ultimately, Lan wants to establish an “innovation institute,” so competitors’ ideas can become commercialized products...

Jerzy Shedlock

When Karluk Manor near downtown Anchorage opened its doors in December 2011, Bob Thomas had been wallowing around the bottom of a bottle for years, floating in and out of various social services such as RurAL CAP’s Homeward Bound and The Salvation Army’s Clitheroe Center. He fit the bill for the new housing-first project’s target population -- the city’s homeless who can’t seem to shake their addictions. Nearly two years later, Thomas is among the residents who have reduced their drinking and now have fewer run-ins with the law.

“I’ve slowed down,” he said. “It’s better than being at the (downtown Anchorage) transit center and constantly being offered drinks. Now, there are options.”...

Jerzy Shedlock

The Anchorage School Board shelved two critical items involving tens of millions in bonds for capital improvement projects during its weekly meeting. The board members had unanswered questions about a key piece of the 2014 bond proposal they expect to put before voters -- the $24 million renovation of Airport Heights Elementary School.

The administration of Alaska’s largest school district recommended the board approve the renovation, although school board members requested additional information about the costs...

Jerzy Shedlock

Two weeks after the surprise announcement that a massive new homeless campus was to be built near the gates of Kincaid Park, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan nixed the idea at a community meeting in West Anchorage on Tuesday night.

Services for Anchorage’s homeless and working poor are very much needed in every area of the city, the mayor said. The project is being scrapped due to “sticker shock,” he said. To get the campus up and running would have cost $50-80 million, he said...

Jerzy Shedlock

A 66-acre “homeless campus” proposed in Alaska’s largest city caused an uproar when city officials announced the plan in late September. Some homeowners near the campus’s future site argue it could have a profound negative impact on parts of West Anchorage and Kincaid Park, one of the city’s most popular outdoor recreation spots, and they decry the “utter lack of public input” so far.

Those who have worked with Anchorage's homeless, a persistent demographic despite decades of effort, are split over the viability and location of the project.

The issue may dominate a Monday community council meeting in Sand Lake, a neighborhood near the proposed development. Municipal officials plan to attend...

Jerzy Shedlock

Alaska’s urban schools lost more than 600 teachers and staff members over the past three years. That’s according to a recent legislative report focusing on some of the state’s largest school districts. All Alaska districts eliminated positions. And even though the state’s secluded rural school districts were not included in the report, many of them face similar challenges due to flat classroom funds.

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, a vocal advocate for increasing education funding in Alaska, requested the report. It focuses on several of the largest school districts in the state, including Anchorage, the Fairbanks borough, Juneau, the Kodiak Island borough, and the Matanuska-Susitna borough...

Jerzy Shedlock

Ask most Alaska or Outside grade-school students if they would choose modestly longer school days in exchange for perpetual three-day weekends, and they’re likely to give unflinching support. One school district on Alaska’s Panhandle recently made such a switch to a four-day school week, but not at the request of homework-weary kids. Instead, parents were behind the push for the compact schedule.

Nine out of 10 schools in the Southeast Island School District are moving from a traditional five-day school week to the shorter, four-day school week, though teachers are still required to work on Fridays...

Jerzy Shedlock

A rural Alaska man was pleaded guilty Monday in Nome to the attempted murder of a police officer.

Buckland resident Gary Ballot shot and severely injured Village Police Officer Lorin Geary in late July while attempting to bring booze into the small Northwest Alaska village, which banned the sale and importation of alcohol more than two decades ago...

Jerzy Shedlock

On Tuesday, upperclassmen attending high schools in Alaska’s largest city will have a second chance to pass tests needed to secure diplomas. If they don’t make the grade, they'll have another shot next spring, when their 10th-grade peers take the so-called exit exam for the first time. Also in April, younger students will hunch over state-mandated, standardized assessment tests. But in the coming years, the pile of paper tests may shift to computer screens...

Jerzy Shedlock

Healthy Alaskans 2020, a joint effort between the state Department of Health and Social Services and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, has released its list of 25 health priorities for the state. The lineup includes many of Alaska’s usual suspects, including suicide, domestic violence and alcohol dependence, but the priorities are unranked.

The list of “leading health indicators” will guide health initiatives in Alaska over the next decade. Among the goals: reducing rates of cancer, suicide and sexual assault, as well as curtailing alcohol, tobacco and drug use. The state has struggled with many of those issues for decades ...

Jerzy Shedlock

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