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Education

Meet The Candidates Running For LKSD's Board

The Lower Kuskokwim School District was awarded a $34 million grant to build a new school building in Eek.
Courtesy of LKSD
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There are six candidates running for four seats on the Lower Kuskokwim School District’s nine-member board. The terms are for three years. 

Richard Long, from Kwethluk, is the longest tenured LKSD board member running for reelection this year. He has served on LKSD’s board since the 1970’s and is running unopposed. He said that his proudest contribution to LKSD is advocating to keep the district’s local advisory school boards. He said that he’s seeking another term to try to improve the four-year graduation rate, which hovers around 60%.

“I would like to see the basic needs met by the district for our students, as well as the deliverance of it by our certificated staff,” Long said.

Michael Husa is the other candidate running unopposed. Husa is running for one of the Bethel seats on LKSD’s board. He moved to the Y-K Delta in 1991, and then to Bethel in the early 2000s. He taught with LKSD for 25 years, and now he’s helping adults get their GEDs with Yuut Elitnaurviat. Husa is finishing up his first three-year term on the district’s board. In that time, he said that he helped the district focus more on building and maintaining its school buildings, and on better protecting students through its newly added sexual abuse prevention policies.

“I still want to improve support for school staff, classroom teachers, aides, site administrators that are in the buildings so that we don't burn them out. So I want to help create a place where it's a great place to work,” Husa said.

The second open Bethel seat is contested. The first candidate for that seat is incumbent Deanna Latham, who grew up in Quinhagak and has lived in Bethel for 13 years. She is the Vice President of Support Services for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation. Before being elected to LKSD’s board in 2016, she was an advisory school board member at Ayaprun Elitnaurvik. 

“We'd like to make sure that we're keeping kids in school as much as possible. And then I think our graduation rates are very important, and then also making sure that we have our culture and language infused in our schools,” Latham said.

Running against Latham for one of the Bethel seats is Catherine Cedars. Cedars is originally from Kasigluk and moved to Bethel around 30 years ago. She works for AVCP Regional Housing Authority. She has served on the advisory school board for Ayaprun Elitnaurvik and the Central Native Education Parent Advisory Committee. Cedars also wants to increase LKSD students’ test scores and graduation rates.

“I believe in the kids. I believe in the district. Also, I believe in our Yup’ik language and I'll support that 100% because that's who our kids are. That’s their culture and that's where we come from,” Cedars said.

The last seat on LKSD’s board that is up for election represents the coastal villages. Katie Anthony lives in Nightmute and serves as the village’s city administrator. She worked as a teacher's aide in the past. She has also served as a member of the advisory school board in Nightmute and the Central Native Education Parent Advisory Committee. 

“I would like to support LKSD students to be successful in graduating from our LKSD district region,” Anthony said.

Running against Anthony is incumbent Felix Albert. Albert is from Tununak and has served on LKSD’s board since 2017. Albert did not return KYUK’s calls for an interview request by deadline.

Early in-person voting for LKSD’s school board has already begun. Voters in Bethel can vote early Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center or the Bethel Regional High School Boardroom. Voters in villages should contact their tribal or city office for information on early voting opportunities. 

Election day is Oct. 5. Polls in Bethel will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can find more information on how to vote here.

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