While Alaska may be known for its outdoor adventures, Native Alaskan culture, beautiful landscapes, and cold winters, did you also know that this state is home to several large school districts?
Known as “The Last Frontier,” this state was the 49th state to enter the union of the United States back in 1959, even though it was originally purchased from Russia in 1867. Rich in history and known for its breathtaking views, Alaska is now home to more than 700,000 people. This state is the largest geographically speaking, yet the smallest in population. Even so, some of the best schools in Alaska provide an opportunity for quality education.
Let's dive in to learn more about seven of the largest school districts in the beautiful state of Alaska.
Anchorage School District
5530 E Northern Lights Boulevard Anchorage, AK 99504
Total Number of Schools: 97
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Nearly 42,700
Ranked as the most diverse school district in the state and the best school district for athletes by Niche is the Anchorage School District. ASD serves Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, and covers nearly 2,000 square miles. It also offers more than 130 different schools and programs to its students. The district's diverse student population allows students to interact with others from different backgrounds, allowing them to learn more about other cultures as well.
The student-to-teacher ratio is 17:1 and 20% of students speak a language other than English. In fact, about 110 different languages are represented through ASD, with the top 5 being English, Spanish, Hmong, Samoan, and Filipino. Additionally, this district is working hard on its goal to make each student college, career, and life-ready by offering numerous academic options for high schoolers.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District
501 N Gulkana St, Palmer, AK 99645
Total Number of Schools: 49
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 19,319
Ranked as the best school district in the Anchorage area is the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. This district is also ranked as the fifth-best school district in the state according to Niche. MSBSD is located approximately 35 miles North of the city of Achorage in an area commonly known as Mat-Su Valley.
What sets this district apart is its large boundary line which covers about 25,000 square miles of land. That's about the same size as Scotland! Additionally, the Mat-Su area has about 110,000 residents and is currently the fastest-growing area in the state. The student-to-teacher ratio is slightly higher than the national average at 19:1, but Niche reports that it's still a top 20 school for teachers.
Fairbanks North Star Borough School District
520 Fifth Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Total Number of Schools: 33
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Over 12,000
As the name implies, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District serves students in Fairbanks and the surrounding areas. The total community population served by the district reaches nearly 100,000 and its mission is to “provide an excellent, equitable education in a safe, supportive environment so all students will succeed and contribute to a diverse and changing society.”
The student-to-teacher ratio in this district is 18:1. Additionally, the district is committed to welcoming a multicultural environment and ranks as the eighth most diverse district in the state. While proficiency ratings on Niche aren't superb for this district, the school's strategic plan is to provide each student with academic and life success.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District
148 North Binkley Street, Soldotna, AK 99669
Total Number of Schools: 42
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 8,445
Landing in the top 25 best school districts in the state and a district with some of the best teachers is the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. This district serves numerous communities and covers 25,600 square miles, making it almost identical in size geographically to the Matanuska-Susitna School District. Due to this massive size, nearly 4,400 students are transported by bus to and from school.
The student-to-teach ratio in the KPBSD is 16:1 which is lower than the national average and lower than some of the other districts discussed here. 1214 employees serve communities that are culturally unique and diverse in their own way. In fact, the district includes 4 Alaska Native villages and four Russian village schools.
Galena City School District
PO Box 299, Galena, AK 99674
Total Number of Schools: 4
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 7,552
The Galena City School District is unique in that it serves an extremely rural community. Many students are actually part of homeschooling families. One of the district's schools is aptly named the IDEA (Interior Distance Education of Alaska) Homeschool, which offers support to homeschooling families and has been in operation since 1997.
With homeschooling and other remote options in the district, the student-to-teacher ratio is extremely high at 91:1 according to Niche. The district is comprised of 4 schools/programs: The Sidney C. Huntington School (within city limits), Galena Interior Learning Academy, IDEA Homeschool, and IGrad Alaska Academic Recovery Program. The district offers adult learning programs as well.
Juneau School District
1208 Glacier Ave, Juneau, AK 99801
Total Number of Schools: 13
Total Number of Students Enrolled: Approximately 4,200
While the Juneau School District has more schools than the Galena City School District, it has a much lower enrollment rate. JSD, however, is ranked as the eighth-best district in the state according to Niche. It's also the second-best district for athletes and the fourth-most diverse district in Alaska. The city of Juneau is the capital of Alaska and is the third largest city in the state with a population of 32,000. It's also only accessible by sea and air.
Juneau School District is one of the largest employers in the community with a staff of 660 full-time employees. 320 staff members are certified teachers making the student-to-teacher ratio about 16:1. The district is unique in that it offers a Montessori school and a Charter school, along with programs including the HomeBRIDGE home school and the Tlingit Culture, Language, and Literacy (TCLL) program.
Lower Kuskokwim School District
PO Box 305, Bethel, AK 99559
Total Number of Schools: 29
Total Number of Students Enrolled: 3,960
The Lower Kuskokwim School District covers many different communities in Alaska including the area of Nunivak Island. It's ranked in the top ten best school districts for athletes and is one of the top twenty-five districts with the best teachers in the state. This district also offers a free or reduced lunch program that 90% of its students partake in.
The student-to-teacher ratio is low at 16:1. While student proficiency scores are much lower than the national average, reviews from Niche indicate that the district is culturally diverse. This gives students the opportunity to learn about other cultures in the area. Additionally, the district offers a College & Career Fair, as well as summer academics, a Career and Technical Education program, athletics, robotics, and various other unique student activities.
While Alaska may be known for far more than its educational options, it's clear that these large school districts have a lot to offer their students. From educational opportunities to athletics, fine arts, and specialized programs, every student is sure to find their fit in one of the massive school districts in this state.
- The 12 Richest Schools in Alaska Will Blow You Away
- The 7 Oldest Schools in Alaska are Ancient
- The 10 Best Camps in Alaska Today
- The 6 Best Schools in the United States
The image featured at the top of this post is ©wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com.