By DAVID BOYLE
The Anchorage School Board on Tuesday approved a one-year contract extension of Superintendent Jarrett Bryantt. The item was initially put on the “consent agenda,” so that it would automatically be swept through in a batch approval with a dozen other routine items, and a separate vote would not be required.
A consent agenda is a meeting tool used to streamline meetings by collecting routine, non-controversial items into a group, and all are passed with a single vote. Anything that is non-routine goes on the regular agenda.
Board President Margo Bellamy sets the agenda and would have had to know that she buried the controversial superintendent’s contract extension in a place on the agenda where the public would not be provided the opportunity to comment.
Board member Dave Donley asked that the item be pulled from the consent agenda and place on the regular agenda so members would at least have to vote on the contract extension.
Bryantt’s current contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2025 — a year and a half from now. Why was the board in such a hurry to extend his contract?
When hired in 2022, Bryantt did not meet the minimum qualifications to be a superintendent. He had only two years of classroom teaching. In Alaska, three years are required by Alaska Administrative Code 4 AAC 12.345.
To get around meeting the minimum requirements, the Department of Education & Early Development issued Dr. Bryantt a Limited Type B certificate. This Limited certificate is only valid for two years. Bryantt must complete the Alaska studies and multicultural education if he wants his Limited Type B certificate extended.
Why didn’t the school board note this in the discussion of his contract extension? There was no public discussion at all on his contract extension and whether Bryantt had met the state requirements.
The board was forced to vote on the matter separately.
Voting “yes” were Bellamy, Andy Holleman, Dora Wilson, Kelly Lessens, Pat Higgins and Carl Jacobs.
Donley was the lone “no” vote.
The contract extension has a couple of notable errors. The contract extension memo states “The Superintendent shall be employed through June 30, 2026, subject to earlier termination of this agreement as set forth in Section 13 and any other provisions of the Employment Agreement”.
However, Section 13 covers indemnification, not termination. Section 12 addresses termination as noted in the contract extension.
Another error in the current contract is paragraph 8, “Mutual Obligation to Communicate”, states, “The Superintendent is also responsible for timely informing the Board or individual Board Members of any concerns she may have about Superintendent/Board relations or Board Member conduct.” Note the pronoun “she.” It may be a cut-and-paste from the contract of the previous superintendent, Deena Bishop.
One of the board’s five stated values is accountability to the public: “The board believes the district should be open, transparent, and accountable to the public, ensuring a high-quality education while remaining fiscally responsible. Our budget, policies, guidelines, curriculum, and district performance data will be easily accessible (unless protected by law) and understandable. Parents will always have access to what their child is learning and how they are progressing. The district will promote strong community partnerships and public involvement.”
If the board is not proficient in transparency in hiring a superintendent, perhaps it will be proficient in student achievement at some point in the future.
Only 42% of Anchorage School District students are able to read proficiently at grade level, the second-lowest district in the nation. The district has a goal of reaching 80% proficiency in reading by 2026, according to goals set in 2020, but recent test scores show little progress toward that goal.
Bryantt, who made $250,000 a year at the time of his hiring, was brought into a district that spends over $19,000 per year per student, according to the ASD’s audited report at the time of his hire in 2022. His contract is now $280,000 plus an $8,400 auto allowance.