State of Alaska

Vol. 45 No. 27 July 7, 2017

ACPE Cuts Refi Rates for Alaskans Repaying Student Loans

Starting July 1, Alaska’s state higher education agency is offering student loan refinancing at 4.95%. Qualifying borrowers can use Alaska Refi to consolidate private, state, and federal education loans; release co-signers; or transfer parent loans to the student’s name.

Alaskans who participated in the refinancing program pilot last year will also see their rate lowered to 4.95%, a reduction of 0.25%.

Generally, savings from refinancing range from $2,600 to $8,700 over the life of the loan for pilot program borrowers. Savings will increase with the upcoming reduction. Some loans refinanced under the pilot program had interest rates as high as 12.99% - reducing the interest rate over half through refinancing.

Alaska education and education refinance rates are set by the Alaska Student Loan Corporation annually, and remain fixed for the duration of the loan. The automatic reset of their loans to the new lower rate is a unique one-time benefit for borrowers who participated in the Alaska Refi pilot.

More information, up-front credit criteria, and the Refi application are available at acpe.alaska.gov.

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2018-2022 LSTA Alaska State Library Plan Released

With the input and support of stakeholders across Alaska, the Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums has finalized the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Alaska State Library Plan 2018-2022.

The LSTA program promotes access to information resources provided by all types of libraries and is administered by the Institute of Museum and Libraries Services (IMLS). The IMLS Grants to State Programs under which state library administrative agencies (SLAAs) receive LSTA allotments requires each SLAA to submit a five-year plan that identifies the state’s library needs and the goals and activities that will be employed to address these needs.

The current LSTA Alaska State Plan outlines the goals, objectives, and activities that the State Library intends to carry out with LSTA funds to address the needs and critical issues facing libraries in Alaska.

The goals for the Alaska State Plan for 2018-2022 are:

  • Goal 1: Alaska libraries will support lifelong learning opportunities for all Alaskans.
  • Goal 2: Libraries will provide access to content and materials in various formats for all Alaskans.
  • Goal 3: Alaskan libraries will explore evolving roles as anchor institutions that benefit their communities.

A link to the LSTA Alaska State Plan: 2018-2022 is available from the Governor's Advisory Council on Libraries at library.alaska.gov.

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National Summer Learning Day is July 13

With the kids out of school and the summer season underway, parents and families may want to consider formalized learning activities or programs to help prevent #SummerSlide. Summer Learning Day, from the National Summer Learning Association, is designed to spread awareness about the importance of summer programs that promote students’ developmental growth, while keeping students safe and healthy. See the event map that lists activities throughout the country and explore what federal agencies have to offer regarding leveraging educational content into summer learning.

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How do you get to Sesame Street? Visit SLED!

Thanks to a contribution from DEED, SLED is pleased to offer a new set of children’s e-books: Sesame Street eBook World: Give your kids an enhanced learning experience that's fun and educational. They'll learn from the alphabet and numbers from Sesame Street's lovable, well-known characters. Find eBooks in English and Spanish, with animated, interactive, audio, and read along formats. New content is added regularly. Available as an app for iPad or Android tablets for offline access. Desktop version requires Flash.

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Winners announced for contributions to literacy in Alaska

An Alaska Native language advocate, a longtime librarian, an elementary school publishing program, and a project to give free books to children in Alaska’s airports are winners of the 2017 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska (CLIA) Awards.

University of Alaska Southeast professor Lance Twitchell, newly retired Anchorage librarian Sherri Douglas, Muldoon Elementary School in Anchorage, and the statewide Read on the Fly program were chosen from nominations submitted from around the state. The CLIA awards have been presented annually since 1993 by Alaska Center for the Book, Alaska’s liaison with the Library of Congress Center for the Book. The CLIAs honor people and programs that have made a significant contribution in literacy, the literary arts, or the preservation of the written or spoken word.

The 2017 CLIA winners will be recognized at a July 11 reception at Room 150 of the Arts Building on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus. A dessert reception begins at 7:30 p.m., with the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. The awards will be followed by readings from authors Erin Coughlin Hollowell and Daryl Farmer, as part of the UAA Creative Writing and Literary Arts summer residency program. The evening events are free and open to the public.

For more information, go to alaskacenterforthebook.org or contact carolben@gci.net.

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State Board Seeks Comment on Proposed Regulation about Assessment Scores

The proposed regulation: 1) gives the department the flexibility to require statewide assessments in English language arts and mathematics in grades three through eight and at least once in grades nine through twelve, and 2) sets the range of scores in the achievement levels of the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS) assessment in English language arts and mathematics and the Alaska Alternate Assessment in science. Submit written comments by 4:30 p.m. July 12 and oral comments at an audio conference hearing on July 14. Visit online comment form.

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U.S. Department of Education Seeks Comments on Regulations and Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education is seeking suggestions on how it can improve regulations and guidance related to issues such as school accountability, special education services, Office of Civil Rights reporting, Impact Aid, Indian Education, charter school grants, FERPA, CTE programs, federal student aid programs, grants for institutions of higher education, among other issues.

The department published in the Federal Register an opportunity for the public to suggest changes to federal education regulations and guidance that have a policy impact. The link to this notice is federalregister.gov. The comment period ends at 7:59 p.m. Alaska time on August 21.

You can review all of the department’s regulations at ecfr.gov. The links are arranged to pinpoint issues that affect you.

You can review the department’s guidance at ed.gov. It will open as a Word document with embedded links to specific guidance on Adult Education, CTE, Civil Rights, Elementary and Secondary Education, Grants and Contracts, Higher Education, and Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Although there are links to comment on specific guidance documents embedded in this document, you may want to use the Federal Register notice comment button to submit your suggestions. The department asks members of the public to be as specific as possible in their suggestions and to copy into their comments links to the specific regulations or guidance about which they are commenting.

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Early Registration is Open for CTE Conference

This year’s premier annual gathering of CTE professionals at Alaska’s ACTE Professional Development Conference takes place October 30 – November 1 in downtown Anchorage. Early-bird registration is now available for a discounted rate. You can also check out the Marriot’s special attendee rate for your stay.

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State Board Seeks Comment on Proposed Regulation about School Bus Standards

The proposed regulation adopts the most recent state and national standards for school buses that are manufactured on or after January 1, 2018. You can submit written comments up to 4:30 p.m. August 7, or oral comments at an audio conference hearing on September 14. See online comment form.

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State Board Seeks Comment on Proposed Regulation about Vocational Education

The proposed regulation would define vocational education to include grades seven through twelve. (It currently includes grades nine through twelve.) The change would allow school districts to spend federal vocational education funds in grades seven through twelve. You can submit written comments up to 4:30 p.m. August 7, or oral comments at an audio conference hearing on September 14. See online comment form.

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