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Meet the candidate: Carl Jacobs

Carl Jacobs is running for a seat on the school board in this year's municipal election.
Carl Jacobs is running for a seat on the school board in this year's municipal election.(Courtesy Carl Jacobs' campaign team)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 3:29 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Carl Jacobs is running for a seat on the school board. Alaska’s News Source asked him to answer some questions about his campaign. Here’s what he said.

What school board seat are you running for?

SCHOOL BOARD SEAT G

Can you give me a short description of yourself?

My name is Carl Jacobs, and I running for Seat G on the Anchorage School Board. I’ve spent my career protecting the public as an investigator and regulatory enforcement specialist for licensed professionals, assisted living homes and child care facilities. My work helped ensure vulnerable Alaskans were safe and treated with dignity and respect. My wife Alicia and I have also served as licensed therapeutic foster parents to approximately 40 children with mental or behavioral health challenges. We will celebrate our 11th graduate this May, and couldn’t be more excited to help young Alaskans successfully transition to independent life. I’m intimately familiar with not just traditional classroom experiences, but how well our systems are serving students who need extra support - either through IEP’s, 504 plans, or gifted programming. I intend to utilize governance board and budget management experience to bring much-needed positive change to our district.

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for our students, families, educators and staff - who have identified a desperate need more for engagement and capable leadership from the school board. A perceived lack of transparent communication, community outreach and overall accountability has rightfully frustrated many within our municipality. Public records confirm my opponent has regularly failed to attend community meetings, and Superintendent Bishop publicly disclosed she has not always felt supported by the current board. Our elected officials must show up for our community and aid the administration in support of ASD’s core mission. I intend to meet families where they are already gathering, and utilize digital innovation brought on by the pandemic to better connect with all areas of Anchorage.

What will be your focus on the school board?

As an elected member of the Board, I will focus on expanding student career education and life skill development, prioritize measures to address the district’s annual budget deficits, and take meaningful action to close the growing student achievement gap. I believe some of the most important challenges the next school board must rise to meet include; ensuring graduates are prepared for success in life, confirming our district is wisely using and effectively advocating for necessary resources, and engaging our community to identify and mitigate barriers to student success. I look forward to bringing my fresh perspective and unique professional and life experience to improve operations for the benefit of all Anchorage families.

Do you think students should be back in school, learning virtually, or a hybrid?

Hybrid. As a foster parent to at-risk youth, I know firsthand that our classrooms provide safety and security to many of the 42,000 students served by our district. Reopening classrooms in cooperation and collaboration with district administration, educators and support staff is a prudent step to minimize the educational losses within our student population. We must also provide quality education options for families who prefer a distance learning environment. Families should not be disenfranchised in order to protect the health and welfare of their household.

Should students in school be wearing masks?

The Anchorage School District should follow the science and relevant guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The use of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, has been deemed appropriate when students are in public settings with individuals outside of their household. We must also continue to push for our educators and support staff to be fully vaccinated quickly and efficiently. Lastly, physical distancing should be utilized whenever possible to keep classrooms safe.

Do you think children were left behind this school year? How can they get back to grade level?

Data released by the Anchorage School District confirmed many student demographic groups have seen an increase in failing grades this year. Those disproportionately impacted include economically disadvantaged students and children of color. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) provided approximately 50 million dollars in one-time funding to our district. We must wisely use these funds to facilitate an expanded and accessible summer program for our students who have fallen through the cracks. As we begin planning for the 2021-2022 school year, we must take into account educational gaps in our student population which will be larger than ever, and facilitate after-school options for children who need them most. Recovering from the losses felt in the last year will take time, and we must begin working immediately to address this challenge.

How do you plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic in schools?

Unfortunately, our school board has at times demonstrated a lack of leadership during the pandemic, which negatively impacted our district, and it’s operations. ASD failed to implement a plan to respond to the pandemic in a timely manner this year. When they did set a plan up, they didn’t stick to the plan. Worse, they failed to keep students, parents, teachers and staff involved in the process, and waited until the last possible moment to decide and communicate deviations from the plan to the public. Now there is a push for reopening, which I absolutely believe is a priority, and some families are being left behind who prefer a distance learning environment. I would have stayed in constant contact with district and community stakeholders. I would have made a commitment from the start to follow the science so that we could return kids to school much sooner, and keep them there longer. Finally, I would have focused on long range planning so that families could know what to expect and make arrangements accordingly.

What’s the largest non-pandemic issue facing the district and what do you intend to do about it?

The school board re-asserting our role in the capable governance of the Anchorage School District. Our recently adopted goals and guardrails include critical areas of focus such as reading and math proficiency, increasing career and life readiness, and issues of equity. The new board must be willing to engage our community and closely monitor measurables for signs of progress. When necessary, the board will be called upon to make informed, student-centered and evidenced-based decisions. Effective leadership will be required in the years ahead to navigate ongoing budget challenges while improving educational outcomes for every student. I believe a change in leadership is required for our goals to become a reality, and am asking for your vote on or before April 6th.

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