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With four of seven seats on the line, Anchorage School Board election will help shape future of board

District, teachers union among those who consider this year’s election of utmost importance
Begich Middle School lockers stay closed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Begich Middle School lockers stay closed during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.(KTUU)
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 8:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - With the Municipal Election upon Anchorage residents, so too is the decision over who should fill four different Anchorage School Board seats of the seven that make up the board in its entirety.

This year’s race is also not only a busy one, with 16 candidates across the four seats. Additionally, it comes at a particularly important time: the four will be named during a pandemic that’s still being navigated.

“How those seats are filled, and support for students, and how that comes for each person,” said Anchorage Education Association President Corey Aist. “[The board] provides oversight and direction in terms of where ASD is going.

“This election is very important in regards to how and the function of the ASD moving out of a pandemic,” he continued. “What activities, what programs, how are we gonna move forward, and how the school board is going to define those choices.”

ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said that, with the board being elected city-wide, one of its features is that it essentially governs policy and education for kids. As such, she said she wants people to think of board members as “trustees for children.”

“It’s important for all of us to not necessarily look not to affiliations,” she said, “but what is it our candidates are seeking? And I am hoping that it is high instructional integrity, that learning matters for children.”

Both Bishop and Aist said they hope people look into each candidate individually, and decide who is best for all across the large district, which includes 41,574 students as of last month. The school district is also currently at 5,948 regular employees and 2,875 substitutes and temporaries, according to an ASD spokesperson.

“This election has a potential to change a focus, if you will,” Bishop said. “Again, it goes back to the discernment of the people who are choosing the members, those people who get to sign a ballot and choose who they’d best like to represent the children and the learning in our city.”

Alaska’s News Source is profiling each of the Anchorage School Board candidates. Below is a list of those running for each seat.

SEAT B

  • Mark Anthony Cox
  • Kelly Lessens
  • Judy Norton Eledge
  • Marilyn Stewart

SEAT E

  • Rachel Blakeslee
  • Edgar Blatchford
  • Sami Graham
  • Pat Higgins
  • Alisha Hilde (Incumbent)
  • Nial Sherwood Williams

SEAT F

  • Dan Loring
  • Kim Paulson
  • Marcus Sanders
  • Dora Wilson

SEAT G

  • Elisa Vakalis
  • Carl Jacobs

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