Anchorage School Board candidate Q&A: Kim Paulson (Seat F)

The Anchorage Daily News asked candidates for Anchorage mayor and School Board to answer a series of issue questions. Read all of them here.

KIM PAULSON | Seat F | Occupation: Manager for the Paulson Family | Age: 48 |

1. Why are you running?

This past year opened my eyes to how much control the school board has over our children’s lives, and what and how they are taught in our schools.

2. Why are you qualified to serve as an Anchorage School Board member?

I am a member of the community who is concerned with the direction education has been taken. I am also a parent of two ASD graduates and a sophomore who is still enrolled in the district.

3. What’s your vision for education in Anchorage?

To maximize every student’s potential, recognizing that some students are geared to learn a trade, while some are ready to enter the workforce, and others are ready to attend college.

4. How would you rate the school district’s performance during the pandemic — protecting public health, delivering quality education services, serving the community? What specifically would you have done differently?

The district headed into the school year with a good plan of allowing families to choose what was best for their student’s learning while in the midst of the pandemic. Unfortunately, the district missed the mark by continually pushing back the start date of in-person learning, resulting in lower academic performance and increased student depression, as well as decreased intervention in cases of child abuse. As a school board member, I would have followed the CDC guidelines as well as that of the American Academy of Pediatrics for students to attend school in-person.

5. What do you believe is the single most important issue facing the Anchorage School District? How would you address it if elected?

Currently, I would say the academic, emotional, mental and physical effects from the lack of in-person learning. If elected I would vote to keep schools open while following the CDC and AAP guidelines.

6. If I could change one thing in the Anchorage School District, it would be _____. Explain.

If I could change one thing in the Anchorage School District, it would be a bigger push to increase parental awareness. Parents need to know what curriculum their children are being taught and how it is being implemented. They also need to be made aware of any political or social indoctrination platforms presented within the schools.

7. Do you have areas of concern about student achievement in the Anchorage School District? What are your specific suggestions for improvement?

During the 2018/2019 school year, over 50% of our students tested below proficient in English Language Arts and math testing scores. We need to find out what systems are in place that resulted in more than half of our students lacking the ability to read, write, or master math for their grade level. We need to focus on different learning styles and support our teachers in working with the different learning styles of students in their classrooms.

8. What are your thoughts on the current and proposed Anchorage School District budgets?

At over 400 pages, I have yet to review the entire budget at the time of this submission. Please check my website for an updated answer:

9. Are there specific curriculum changes you would advocate? Describe them and the reason you want to see a change.

At this time I would be concerned with any curriculum that would promote racism or shame children for something they have no control over, such as their skin color. I am very much against any type of political or social indoctrination.

10. The school district used distance learning extensively over the past year. Once in-person classes fully return, would you like to see continuing or additional distance-learning options offered?

Distance learning should remain available to families who have concerns with in-person classes and for students whose learning style is more compatible with distance learning while wishing to remain in the Anchorage School District.

11. Does Anchorage need better preschool options for children? If not, what are your suggestions for improvement?

I need to do more research into the preschool options the district is offering before I can comment on this issue. Please check my website for an updated answer:

12. What steps should ASD take to improve its career and technical education curriculum?

ASD should offer career and technical education classes at all of its high schools.

13. Achievement gaps persist in the Anchorage School District among economic, racial and ethnic groups of students. What would you do to address the gaps and what should the district do to close them?

We need to research and figure out why there is a persistent achievement gap in our district. What has the district done to address this issue? More information is needed in order to truly answer the question. It is important not to place a stigma on students that they are unable to do well because of their life experiences. As I learn more on this issue I will continue to update my website.

14. Are you happy with current class sizes in the district? Would you suggest specific changes?

This is a question I would direct toward teachers. Class size should be at a level which allows teachers to do their job well.

15. Are you happy with current school start times and the length of school days? Explain.

According to the CDC and the AAP, an 8:30 a.m. start time for middle and high schoolers can help to improve student health and academic performance.

16. Is the Anchorage School District currently doing a good job of retaining quality teachers? What steps, if any, should the school board take to improve teacher retention?

I need to do more research on ASD’s teacher retention rate. Please check my website for an updated answer:

17. Please discuss your commitment to transparency and open government as it relates to the school board and Anchorage School District. Would you push for changes?

I am fully committed to the transparency of the school board and Anchorage School District as this fits in with my priority of more parental awareness.

18. What other important issue would you like to discuss?

Thank you for taking time to research the candidates before voting. The outcome of every April election plays such an important role in our daily lives. Thank you for voting!