Local Reeappointed to AHFC Board

Jay Barrett/KMXT
Two men have been reappointed to the Alaska Housing Finance Board of Directors, including one from Kodiak.
Marty Shuravloff is the executive director of the Kodiak Island Housing Authority, where he’s worked since 1992. He has previously served on the board of the National American Indian Housing Council and the Association of Alaska Housing Authorities. He was reappointed to a seat reserved for a rural resident or someone experienced with regional housing authorities.
Brent LeValley of Fairbanks is senior vice president of Denali State Bank. He was reappointed to a seat reserved for a finance or real estate representative.
The AHFC board provides mortgage loan financing, acts as the principal source of residential financing in the state, and functions as a secondary mortgage market. The board also provides for the financing, construction and acquisition of public buildings for lease to the state.

Weather Station Brings New Learning to Old Harbor

[listen here]
Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
Yesterday KMXT told you all about a new project for Kodiak High School and Middle School students, one that partners them with NASA scientists to try and forecast earthquakes.
The work is being done through  Trillium Learning’s American Bridge Project, and brought the world’s first two Global Earthquake Forecasting System sensing platforms to Kodiak last month. One was placed on top of the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium, and another was sent to Old Harbor.
The platforms collect electrical and magnetic signals, among other data, but also include a full NOAA-class weather station on each platform.
“So we can tell how much wind, wind gusts, rain, humidity, temperature – all these things are actually being recorded.”
That’s Ron Fortunado, the president of Trillium Learning. He said the students working with the platform in Old Harbor went nuts when they learned about the weather stations included in the project, something he didn’t expect.
“Because they don’t have a weather station down there.”
Instead, Fortunado learned that Old Harbor relies on weather forecasts from Kodiak airport.
“If they knew what the weather was like down here they would know whether or not to send a plane or not, or a maritime or fishing fleet – we would know better about what the conditions were and stuff like that. So with a weather station down there, localizing in a place based manner, now they’re going to use it to do all sorts of climate studies in their environmental science classes and things like that.”
Fortunado said he had no idea how important and useful a weather station would be for the community of Old Harbor, and is glad the earthquake forecasting project can be beneficial in multiple ways.

Lecture Will Highlight Early Language Learning

Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
Folks will have an opportunity to learn about early Alutiiq language learning this Thursday during a lecture at the Alutiiq Museum.
Well before current language revitalization efforts, Russian colonists were some of the island’s first non-Native Alutiiq learners. According to a press release from the Alutiiq Museum, the language was solely oral for thousands of years, but with the arrival of those Russian explorers, Russian Cyrillic characters were used for publishing written word.
Daria Safronova is a local Russian archivist and will talk about those early appearances of Alutiiq on paper and some of the research she’s been doing. She’ll share historical documents and some of the earliest examples of Alutiiq text.
The lecture, Russian Alutiiq Cyrillic Archival Treasures, is free to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Alutiiq museum as part of the Fall lecture series.

Talk of the Rock: Kodiak District Parent-Teacher-Student Association

[listen here]
On today’s edition of Talk of the Rock, we’ll hear from the founders of the Kodiak District Parent-Teacher-Student Association, or PTSA. We’ll hear from Eric Linscheid, the president of the Kodiak Community Education Alliance, and vice president of the organization, Ron Gibbs.

Students Get Hands on Learning With Earthquake Forecasting

[listen here]
Brianna Gibbs/KMXT
Some of Kodiak’s local students are getting hands on experience in real world research these days. The Kodiak Island Borough School District has recently partnered with NASA and other organizations to help monitor earthquake forecasting sensors with the hopes of someday being able to predict when and where earthquakes might occur.
Early Friday morning, a group of four eager Kodiak High School students sit in front of lap tops in the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s conference room.  Strewn around them are engineering sketches, designs, and scribbled numbers and notes. They aren’t skipping class – in fact, due to a district-wide teacher in-service, school wasn’t even scheduled that day, or the two days prior. And while many of their classmates were probably still sleeping in, these four were hard at work, on their own time, communicating with NASA scientists and workin g to make earthquake forecasting a feasible reality for Kodiak, and the world.
“We’re doing this for school, but we’re also doing this for the scientific community. And it’s like real contributions – it’s not just like a science project that somebody’s already done. We’re actually innovating, we’re actually putting forth results and things that people can use that can help the world.”
That’s Junior Richie McKinney, one of the four lead students partaking in Trillium Learning’s American Bridge Project – an initiative that promotes real time, real world projects with big name partners and school districts around the country. In this case, KIBSD is working with NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, Intelesense Technologies and the European Space Agency to help collect data from the world’s first two Global Earthquake Forecasting System Sensing Platforms, which were placed on the island last month. One platform was put in Old Harbor Village, and the second one is visible on the roof of the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium in Kodiak. Continue reading

Kodiak PTSA Formed to Facilitate Communication

[listen here]
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The founders of the Kodiak District Parent-Teacher-Student Association, or PTSA, will be on KMXT’s Talk of the Rock Tuesday afternoon discussing their organization and what they hope to accomplish through the Kodiak Community Education Alliance.
Ron Gibbs, himself a retired teacher, is the vice-president of the Kodiak Community Education Alliance, which is formed as a 501(c)3 nonprofit. He says a Parent Teacher Student Association differs from a PTA, in that it’s area of concern is the entire school district, and not just individual schools.
“There’s been a lot of changes come down the pipes with education, and that’s where there’s a lot of frustration and confusion and questions about the new grading system, evaluation process. A lto of these are coming as mandates from the state or the legislature and so as the district works to incorporate those changes, there’s been some gaps in that communication where people have question and they don’t necessarially know where to get answers, and that’s where we’re trying to help out with that.”
Erik Linschied, president of the Kodiak Community Education Alliance, is also a retired teacher. He outlined the five goals the group has at this point.
“When we started talking to the community it kind of boiled down to a couple different things. There are five things. One is that there is just communication with everybody in the community, along with the school board and central office. And then the second is how we support school board communications – that was another concern. And then, a culture of trust, and that’s number three, number four is understanding the grading system, and number five is promoting teamwork.”
In regards to goal number 1, Gibbs said the policy regarding free communication between the public and the school board members is already being address.
“We brought that up as a concern, and so the board, they way they work with that is they have a policy review committee. And they did a rewrite on it. This process has been going on for eight months. And they did a rewrite, and really put to rest most of those concerns. It was a good rewrite. It went from the beginning opening draft saying, “Staff members, parents and community members should submit comments to board through the superintendant. And vice versa. Now, it’s, “Individual communication between board members and community are expected.”
Linschied and Gibbs both see the new language as an improvement, but they would like to see it have a better defined protocol for when and to whom private communication to a school board member are shared. In that vein, Gibbs says he’s asking for a postponement on adopting the policy.
“We are also requesting that the board defer action on this until next month, so that the new board member has a chance to come up to speed and learn about that and hear what’s going on. It’s been going on for eight months, so it would be helpful to let him have a chance to assimilate that, too.”
You can hear the complete conversation with Gibbs and Linschied on this week’s Talk of the Rock.