2022 Anchorage School Board Candidate: Margo Bellamy

Margo Bellamy is running for School Board in the April 2022 election. (Photo provided by candidate)

This Q&A is part of a broader candidate survey by the Anchorage Daily News. View the full survey here.

Margo Bellamy | School Board Seat: A | Age: 60 | Occupation: Adjunct professor Margobellamy.com

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

Successful student outcomes. School systems exist to improve student outcomes — what do students know and what are they able to do. Each decision I make begins and ends with what’s best for our students. Our data dashboard clearly shows some students are doing well and benefiting more than others. So, in the last three years, I engaged in a four-phase strategic planning process, which translated into the board’s newly adopted goals and guardrails which define the direction for education in the ASD for the next five years. I’ve supported policies, programs, and practices that focus on successful outcomes for all students and foster environments where students, staff and parents want to belong. I voted for the apprenticeship policy, adopted a new math curriculum, voted to re-charter four charter schools, and co-sponsored the anti-racism and instructional equity policies. I am committed to accomplishing our community’s goals, while operating within our guardrails.

Rate how the Anchorage School District has handled the pandemic, and why.

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.

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?

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.

Is the Anchorage School District doing a good job of retaining quality teachers?

Yes, but there is still work to be done. School Board members must continue advocate for adequate state funding and for a retirement system that values the work of teachers. In Anchorage, we do our part by funding our schools through our property taxes, but we also rely on state and federal revenues to operate significant portions of our local governments. The state funding for grades K-12 has not been increased since 2017. In that period, Alaska has experienced a rise in inflation of 11.6%. Prioritizing education, properly funding our schools, and fixing a broken retirement system will allow ASD to retain educators by offer competitive wages benefits, and a plan to retire with dignity.

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

Move towards mandatory and systemic implementation of restorative justice practices, structures, and strategies throughout the ASD. I would review our current discipline policies, practices and structures and require that all schools, K-12, implement age-appropriate restorative justice practices in our schools. This transition will take time and resources but will improve student achievement, school climate and address current disparities in discipline. This will also move us away from the traditional zero-tolerance and punitive discipline model to a behavior intervention model that will still hold students accountable, build meaningful relationships, allow students to make restitution when possible, and allow students to remain connected to the school community. Many schools are already using restorative practices and many others are not.

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