Anchorage School Board candidate Q&As: Many students are struggling due to pandemic-related challenges. What strategies should the school district prioritize to help?

In advance of the April 5 Anchorage municipal election, the Anchorage Daily News asked candidates running for Anchorage School Board a series of issue questions. Read all the Assembly and school board candidates’ responses here.

Q: Many students are struggling due to pandemic-related challenges, both academically and behaviorally. What are some strategies the school district should prioritize to help students recover from that period?

Seat A

Margo Bellamy

The district should implement strategies that elevate and strengthen student voice, that increase opportunities for student involvement in school and in the community, and strategies that directly remove barriers to academic success. The district must also prioritize instructional interventions and enhancements that support students where they are and provide a path to success.

Mark Anthony Cox

The paramount lesson for the school district and school board to prioritize is to not repeat this type of decision-making process of following the news of organizations rather than the firsthand accounts of the parents who entrust us with their children to teach and educate.

Dan Loring - Did not respond to survey.


Cliff Murray

Keep the masks off of our kids and keep the schools open. If we do these things, I believe that students and staff will begin to recover from pandemic-related issues.

Seat B

Benjamin Baldwin - Did not respond to survey, suspended campaign.

Dustin Darden

We can help the students and parents that have been deceived by giving them accurate, uncensored information about the documented plans of people like the founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, and Bill Gates. I offer at this time anyone with questions or input on how we can unite against this tyranny targeted against humanity to feel free to go to my Facebook page to watch videos on what I’m saying about these injections and dark emanate dangers which we have no option but to expose and triumph in victory!

Kelly Lessens

Academically, ASD should continue to prioritize investments in summer school and small group tutoring, like reading interventionists. I would have liked to have seen class sizes capped at 15 students for 2nd and 3rd graders in the 2022-2023 school year, at minimum, especially at the schools that are being assessed as “below benchmark” in reading proficiency, so as to allow teachers to have adequate time to meet students’ needs and better work towards the accelerated growth that we hope to see. ASD’s understanding of adequate classroom staffing sizes (15 for K-3) has never been implemented in our schools. Holistically, we should probably rethink…everything. The board’s commitment to mental health supports is important, but we also need to think about school start times, additional recess, the role of counselors, additional preschool options to build long-term capacity, and long-term investments in healthy buildings, i.e. through ventilation improvements.

Rachel Ries

Focus on education. Return to partnering WITH parents as critical stakeholders in their child(ren)s education. Admit when something is not working and adjust accordingly such as maintaining the masks as a parent/individual CHOICE policy.

• • •

Read more Q&As with Anchorage School Board candidates:

What is a short summary of your background?

Why are you running?

What makes you qualified to serve on the Anchorage School Board?

What’s your vision for public education in Anchorage?

What’s the single most important issue facing the Anchorage School District? How would you address it if elected?

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


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

Do you have ideas for how ASD can improve its career and technical education curriculum?

Are you satisfied with current preschool options? Explain.

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?

Rate how the Anchorage School District has handled the pandemic, and why? What would you have done differently, if anything?

Many students are struggling due to pandemic-related challenges, both academically and behaviorally. What are some strategies the school district should prioritize to help students recover from that period?

What are your thoughts on how the topic of racism and its history in the United States should be taught in public schools?

What other important issue would you like to discuss?