2011 Outstanding School Board of the Year awarded to KPBSD School Board!


On Saturday, November 5, 2011, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District school board received the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) “2011 Outstanding School Board of the Year” award for contributions to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The award was announced during the 58th annual AASB conference in Anchorage, November 3–6, 2011, with more than 400 people in attendance. Fifty-three school districts serve the great state of Alaska, and competition this year included very engaged school boards from Kodiak, Sitka, and Bristol Bay, among others.


In addition, Liz Downing, KPBSD school board vice-president, was surprised when her name was called. Downing received the 2011 “National Distinguished Board Member” award by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) during the AASB conference. Ten Alaskans receive this honor each year.

Superintendent Dr. Steve Atwater was present at the award announcement, and said,

“I am thrilled that our board is being recognized in this way, it was great to see them receive this in front of school board members from across the state. Their dedication to the students of the Kenai is unwavering—they deserve this accolade.”


Nine elected members serve on the school board, together with one high school student representative: Joe Arness, President; Liz Downing, Vice President; Penny Vadla, Clerk; Lynn Hohl, Treasurer; Marty Anderson; Sammy Crawford; Sunni Hilts; Bill Holt; Tim Navarre; and Annaleah Ernst, Student representative.

Five criteria are necessary to receive Outstanding Alaska School Board of the Year. The KPBSD school board demonstrates excellence in:

  1. Community Engagement
  2. Level of AASB/UAF Boardsmanship Academy
  3. Demonstrated evidence of leadership as measured against AASB School Board Standards
  4. Participation in State and National Activities
  5. Evidence of growth in student achievement


Board members reveal their thoughts:

“It is awesome that KPBSD has been recognized for providing excellent opportunities for our 9,000 students in 44 schools on the Kenai. We have much to be thankful for.” – Sammy Crawford

“Clearly, it is a tremendous accolade for the school board, but it is a larger recognition of the school district itself. The criterion for winning this award is based, in large part, upon how well the district is doing and how well the district interfaces with the communities it serves. This recognition that our district is, in fact, a leader in education as measured by academic progress compared with other districts is not so much an endorsement of the board itself, but instead recognizes the strides which our district has made over the past few years. We are happy and proud to represent (and lead) such an exemplary district.” – Joe Arness, President

“It was such an honor for our board to receive recognition from the Association. Listening to our board and district accomplishments during the presentations, I was struck by the realization that this was an effort truly shared with all past board members, administrators, teachers, staff, students, and families who have contributed over the years to make this such a wonderful school district.” – Liz Downing, Vice-President


“I have gained more from serving on the board the last eight years than any other activity I have participated in.” – Marty Anderson  

“I made a commitment to serve on the board because I felt I could represent the interests and views of the students, and I have a desire to help them succeed.” – Bill Holt  “I make a commitment to serve on the school board because I’ve always believed parental and community involvement has the potential to positively impact all kids and helps school and district staff know the families and communities whose children they teach. PTA instilled in me the importance of advocacy for our families in my local school and beyond.


A challenge the school board faces is to engage more parents, students, and community members to become involved with parent groups, site councils, the district, assembly, and state so their voice becomes part of the chorus working to support and improve our schools. Let’s work together to maximize the return on our investment.” – Lynn Hohl, Treasurer

“I made a commitment to serve because I wanted to give back to a system that had given so much to me. Students have been part of my life for over forty years. I wanted to be the change-agent that would make a difference in their life, just like many educators made a difference in my life. A challenge for the school board is to continue to provide a quality educational experience for all students in the district.” – Penny Vadla, Clerk


Every year the National School Boards Association (NSBA) honors ten school board members from each state. Liz Downing, the KPBSD school board vice-president is a “National Distinguished Board Member” 2011 award recipient and shares, “I was surprised and honored; I so appreciate this award.”

Congratulations to the KPBSD school board for being distinguished as 2011 Outstanding Alaska School Board of the Year! The school district celebrates and applauds your effort and dedication.




KPBSD School Board 

2011-2012 School Board Meetings 

Association of Alaska School Boards 
The mission of the Association of Alaska School Boards is to advocate for children and youth by assisting school boards in providing quality public education, focused on student achievement, through effective local governance.

National School Boards Association (NSBA)