The Lower Yukon School District was incorporated as a Regional Educational Attendance Area (REAA) in 1976 and is currently governed by a nine member Regional School Board elected by communities, at large. Prior to its inception as an REAA, village elementary schools in our region were governed and staffed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the State System of Schools.
An historical footnote to our district was the well publicized case of Hootch v. Alaska State-Operated School System, 1972, which argued that local village high schools be established to afford opportunities to students without having to leave their communities for schooling. Molly Hootch, whose name appeared first on the list of 27 plaintiffs, was from Emmonak, Alaska.
LYSD is located in a remote area of western Alaska. District Map
Geographically, our District is approximately 22,000 square miles, about the size of the state of West Virginia and includes 10 small villages with no connecting roads. Most travel is by small airplane (Cessna 207), although travel by snow machine in the winter and boat in the summer is common. Ninety-eight (98) percent of our student population is Alaska Native, specifically of Yup’ik Eskimo descent. All villages in our communities have at least one store and a post office. Villages also have good telephone systems, satellite TV, and Internet access. LYSD's robust technology infrastructure is among the best in Alaska.
Eight villages served by LYSD are on the Yukon River, which is one of the largest rivers in North America and flows through two countries. Two villages are on the coast of the Bering Sea. The Lower Yukon River reputedly produces the most flavorful and tasty salmon in the world. King Salmon (among the grandest of fish) run in mid June and produce fish ranging in size from 30 to 80 pounds. Chum and silver salmon are smaller in size and often run in June through early September.
Yup’ik Eskimos combine a contemporary and a traditional subsistence lifestyle in a blend unique to the arctic. Modern Yup’iks work and live in western style but still hunt and fish in traditional subsistence ways. Locals fish salmon, whitefish, lamprey eels and pike. They also hunt moose, bear, fox, beaver, lynx and other animals.
The purpose of our District's learning community is to ensure tradition, culture, and a quality education for all of our children. Further, we believe that:
• All children can learn
• Students should have skills to remain successful after high school
• All students deserve a quality education based on values, culture, and academics
• The community educates the whole child
• The family is the most important teacher in a child’s life
• Students should learn to respect all cultures by having a firm understanding of their own
• All stakeholders must be held to high expectations
• Each of our communities is unique and has different needs
• Students must know what is expected of them
• The people, groups, organizations, and agencies that comprise our community have a responsibility to the education of our children
• Communication should be useful and meaningful
• Decision-making is a shared responsibility
LYSD's strategic outlook includes:
• Providing learning opportunities in academics, culture, and tradition with the support of each community
• Spreading the good news about the positive direction of our educational community
• Working together (staff, parents, students, community stakeholders) to understand and support the needs of students
• Identifying and using a variety of effective teaching methods
• Providing opportunities to inform and involve the community
In addition, our District has implemented an Academic Focus addressing
1. Teaching and Maximizing Student Learning
a. Using Adopted Curricula In All Classrooms
b. Making Instructional Decisions Based on the Response to Intervention Framework
c. Using the Constructing Meaning Framework in Planning, Instruction, and Assessment Practices to Address LEP Learners
2. Supporting Students in a Safe, Respectful, Responsible Way
a. Making Behavioral Decisions Based on the Response to Intervention Framework
b. Implementing the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Framework to Establish Safe and Orderly Schools
c. Understanding the Influence of Trauma-Related Experience on Student Learning and Behaviors
Through the efforts of hard-working dedicated staff and students across the District, 8 of our 10 schools experienced increases in academic achievement as measured on the Alaska School Performance Index in 2013-2014, as well as an average 30% decrease in office referrals and out-of-school suspensions district-wide.