Anchorage School Board candidate Q&As: Rate how the Anchorage School District has handled the pandemic, and why.

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

Seat A

Margo Bellamy

I think the Anchorage School District, and the Anchorage community, did the best it could to keep our students and staff safe and continuing to learn during an unprecedented time that shook the entire world. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to rate survival or loss during a pandemic.

Mark Anthony Cox

Rating: poor. COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges which caused states to adopt each other’s policies and to make adjustments as further guidelines and evidence was given. What would be the most beneficial differences that could have been done by the Anchorage School Board is to set the vision of giving parents and teachers/staff an educated option of whether or not they wanted to do face-to-face instruction; while simultaneous preparing our facilities with necessary health equipment and mitigation procedures in place for those who would stay, and approving a virtual curriculum for those who would be home.

Dan Loring - Did not respond to survey.


Cliff Murray

I believe that we blew it. There were private schools throughout Anchorage and the country that remained open for in-person learning throughout the 2020-2021 school year. We allowed union leadership and fear to dictate our course of action, and our children and teachers suffered as a result. We should have stayed open during 2020-2021 and we should have not masked at all for 2021-2022. The level of learning has suffered under the strategies implemented by the ASD administration and school board.

Seat B

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

Dustin Darden

The Anchorage School Board did a fantastic job handling the planned-emic in the eyes of their handlers, the satanic global elite the school board, we’re good little puppets. But in my eyes and anyone that was not involved or deceived are disgusted at the behavior of the Anchorage School Board, they forced masks on myself, children and even had my brother Nial Sherwood Williams arrested at the Anchorage School District headquarters because he did not have on a face diaper. t’s critical that we stand united against tyranny and bring down walls they build.

Kelly Lessens

Many students are struggling due to pandemic-related challenges, both academically and behaviorally, but voters need to elect board members who are laser-focused on addressing the challenges we know are here now. When I joined the Board in May 2021, I understood that parents wanted consistency and in-person learning more than pretty much anything else, both for their students and for themselves. I am proud that ASD offered that consistency this year; unlike schools and entire districts in other parts of the country, ASD did not revert to online learning. But I don’t want to dismiss the extraordinary challenges this year has presented. Our teachers — and the parents who have stepped in as substitute teachers — are absolute heroes.

Rachel Ries

ASD handled the pandemic abysmally. They used a mandate that affected everyone with one solution. There were “processes” for children with disabilities, religious exemptions, etc. However, none of them were approved. ASD was not an honest broker with its students, parents or staff when it came to meeting community needs, as opposed to the mandated approach. This was driven by the school board time and time again, with no modifications to address parent, staff or student concerns. And finally, in spite of a huge drop in enrollment, ASD increased spending.

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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?