KTUU’s Mike Ross expresses frustration about lack of transparency from Anchorage superintendent over school bus schedules

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KTUU’s Mike Ross took to social media on Thursday to vent about the frustration reporters had trying to find out how many school buses would be running and when they’d run. Reporters were told they would have to file an official public records request to get that information, which reporters determined was newsworthy for the families of 42,000 schoolchildren going back to school on Thursday. Public information requests sometimes take days to be filled, and are often ignored by government officials.

Ross said the news organization was stonewalled by the district, which has said that due to a lack of drivers, school bus service will be in short supply. But the district has not explained clearly to the public when the buses will be running and on which routes.

Here’s the rant, in full posted on Facebook by Ross, who is news anchor and managing editor of KTUU, on Thursday:

I don’t often rant publicly, but as a journalist with more than 40 years of experience, this is an exception because of something that happened today.

Our newsroom this morning asked the public affairs department at the Anchorage School District what we thought was a simple question that would get a quick answer: 

“Which schools currently have school bus service and which do not?”

Simple, right? Surely ASD has that info at their fingertips…right?

Here’s the answer we got back:

“That info is not available”

I asked: “why not?”

Then, ASD told us we would have to file a formal public records request to get the information.

Seriously? A formal documents request?

Alaska has a Public Records Law…it calls on public agencies like ASD to make documents and information available for inspection during regular business hours. Having to file a formal records request is usually something that only happens if an agency has to devote time and effort to dig up the information or it’s sensitive in nature and they have to run it past their lawyers.

We told ASD we thought their demand was unreasonable…and one of our reporters this afternoon asked the new superintendent, Dr. Jharret Bryantt, about why they were making us go through this formal  process…here’s what he said:

“We have three more bus drivers starting on Monday, we have 50 new drivers that will starting between now and the end of September, so that list is going to be ever-evolving…”

Ok…we didn’t ask which schools won’t have bus service at the end of September…we asked for a list of which schools don’t have bus service TODAY, the first day of school… 

Dr Bryantt continued in the interview:

“…and it’s really important for the public to know that a bus route is not assigned to just one school, it’s assigned to several schools. So, when we talk about cohorts, we’re talking about a really logistically complicated list that involves multiple campuses. So, for that reason, we are keeping our line of communications directly to families at this time.”

Well…this is one of the reasons we asked today which schools don’t have bus service…we wanted to be able to gauge and report about how many schools are impacted by the bus driver shortage, and which ones they are. Instead of providing more information about the number of schools impacted, ASD chose to throw a roadblock in our efforts and not divulge the info we were seeking.

I’ve covered several different ASD superintendents during my 16 years in Anchorage…nearly all have been very open and forthcoming about providing information to the news media when requested.

I truly hope what happened today isn’t a sign of things to come from this taxpayer-supported government agency that should be transparent, especially when we’re hearing about long lines at schools with parents trying to pick up their kids.

44 COMMENTS

  1. What’s this? A random act of real journalism from KTUU?
    Or is Ross going to be taken out to the woodshed for his disobedience?

    • That is the problem with leftists. They never want to consider the real implications of their decisions. “What should we do to make this school year special?” “I know, let’s run a bunch of ads on the radio talking about how wonderful we are.” “Well, how will the kids get to school? No bus drivers.” “Sorry, did not hear you. Was writing ad copy, and talking on the phone to ad agencies.”

      • Because, as you know CBMTTek, with leftists it is ALL about ‘feelings’, and ‘intentions’, and never about facts, or follow-up, or any retrospection regarding the results of their feel-good (but invariably shallow and misguided) intentions and actions.

  2. Didn’t I read that a Jharret Bryantt was the candidate who didn’t possess the minimum requirements to be an Anchorage School Superintendent?????

    • Oh my goodness Marlin, that is what I thought, however Board Member Margo Bellamy answered my question with Mr. Jharrett Bryantt was fully qualified in July 2022. Go figure, he wasn’t qualified when they hired him

    • And his record in Houston was just as bad as the ASD has been in ALL relevant criteria. We could have taken a new grad and had a better candidate. He is a PROVEN FAILURE.

      • I read where he stated that he is Equity Driven. No more Equality folks. We haven’t gotten a wing or a prayer.

  3. Why is he frustrated? The school system has made it clear they don’t answer to anyone but themselves.

    Did Mr Ross push them on masks for no reason? Unnecessary closure of schools? Abysmal grades?

    • MA, no clearly Mr. Ross didn’t do any of those things, but this is a start. When even the the more congenial press is frustrated they start to ask better questions. Mr. Ross is a 100% correct. This information should be posted and updated regularly for ALL to see and for the news outlets to report. Currently it appears that bus routes can only be accessed after logging into the ASD parent portal. In years past bus route were not considered “top secret” and “need to know”. “Working with our parents” is code for “we will let you know WHEN we deem you are allowed that information”. This is the outcome from the pandemic where overnight parents were expected to teach their children at home and it was their responsibility to make it happen. One can assume this secrecy is designed to keep the taxpayer from finding out how badly they mismanaged the situation and demanding that people be fired (starting with out new arrogant superintendent)

  4. Alaska Public Media has an article today: Anchorage school district to prioritize low-income students, longest routes as new drivers start working. Interesting to say the least. However, the article doesn’t answer Mike Ross’s questions.

  5. Where was Mike Ross and KTUU’s rant on social media, indignation and breathless news reporting when the Un(der)-qualified Mr.? Bryantt was hired in the first place??? KTUU is just another liberal media outlet with ZERO credibility…

  6. Over 51% of Anchorage property taxes go toward this wasteful, self indulgent, and at times criminal organization. The ASD.

    • The ASD is not about education.
      It is an on-going boondoggle project building schools and feathering their own nest in the name of the children.
      3 R’s?
      Rob the property owners.
      Rob the State
      Rob the Federal Government.
      And get lot’s of free stuff.

    • Exactly how many administrative positions does the ASD have? How many principals, how many vice principals? How many social workers and guidance counselors? What is the student/(vice) principal ratio?
      .
      Seriously the waste in the front office alone probably makes up for 20% of their budget.

  7. I’m sure Mike Ross believes that Dunleavy did a great job with the fake pandemic just like Suzanne Downing!!! This dumbass girl said don’t leave he did a good job. She’s just straight criminal bias. Nobody could be that stupid for free

  8. Let’s see what Mike Ross does with his outrage. Will he use his TV bully pulpit to call out the ASD? Will he contact parents directly or invite them to post the routes on the KTUU FB page, so he can report them to all?? Or has he done his venting and will move on to other more genteel issues?
    We are waiting MR. Ross…..

    • Don’t hold your breath. The enforcers from the teacher’s union already got to him. This is the last you will hear of it.

  9. This is what social collapse looks and feels like, folks. ASD, like school districts across the nation, is facing the end of their Big Ed industry over something as simple as a labor shortage created by their own arrogant stupidity. It isn’t likely that they will ever get enough bus drivers again. Labor in this country for everything from flipping burgers to roofing is simply not available, and millions of illegal immigrants won’t fix it…….it will only increase demand.

  10. The school district just shot themselves in both feet at once.
    Those that normally do not pay any attention to them are going to share some over this.
    I’d love to hear what they say to them…
    But I wouldn’t like to be on the receiving end.

  11. I know of someone who applied for a job as a bus driver and was told that they would offer them a substitute position. They also told them that they were expecting their bus drivers to come back after the tourism season was over. Maybe that’s why ASD is expecting 50 drivers back by the end of September. Guess which schools will not have service? Low income. Why? The school district doesn’t care about the parents or their children. Think about that when they put a school bond before the taxpayers in this school district.

  12. I sat in the line of parents picking up kids at Service High for over a good hour yesterday. Our cars were idling the whole time as we snaked around the entire complex inch by inch and that is not counting sitting in line once out on Abbott, where we were only able to head west, waiting for the light to change at Abbott & Elmore. It was not only extremely frustrating but a waste of lots of expensive gas while polluting the air. Unfortunately, at Service there is no other place for pick up, one that kids could walk to, and it is not within walking or biking distance for many of its students. This is absolutely terrible!

    • All more a reason the students consolidate space riding school buses home. Or if the students live
      near they can bicycle or horseback to/from service. Hahaha. Hahaha. I am sorry my response sounding insensitive. Considering the topic at hand i got good laugh.

  13. In the last few years it has become clear that KTUU doesn’t do news reporting. They broadcast weather and show pictures of puppies. They are a photojournalist’s magazine, not a news organization. They have a few exceptions. They will report everything about marijuana and LGBTQ++++ matters. And interview Chris Constant whenever he wants attention. Ross will be fired.

  14. Just an observation, but don’t most parents drive their kids to school these days??? As a student in the ASD back in the 70’s, I well remember reports on the radio station my folks listened to that conveyed student transportation issues on the morning of…for example, if a bus was running late. If there was a change in routes or bus stops. The ASD had a media outreach person who anyone could call directly. But if there was an issue, you could depend on that individual to have up-to-the-minute info for the public. On rare occasion, us kids would wait sometimes up to half an hour at a stop before giving up and trudging back home…hoping we wouldn’t have to go to school that day. Maybe it was an “in service day” mom forgot about. But the District took responsibility in those good ol’ days. Maybe they don’t so much anymore? I can’t imagine them not actively seeking out the media to ensure the public got accurate info.

  15. Jharret, sorry, I shall not give you the undeserved title of ‘Doctor’, as said term implies wisdom at least, of which you apparently have none.

    You have publicly stated that your primary goal is to achieve more funding for your unwarranted budget even though more ‘money’ shall never improve this districts education level, because that was never the goal.

    You were brought in within false pretenses and qualifications, and as such, you are way, way over your head.

    You cannot even oversee a viable plan to get our students TO the schools, let alone educate them within an acceptable manner once may or may not arrive there.

    Perhaps you should simply tuck tail, resign now whilst admitting a defeat that is now fairly minor, but shall become major within the near future.

    You are not fit to oversee this district, nor any other, within mine own opinion, and you shall fail horribly within any educational endeavor you wish to apply yourself within the future.

    You are NOT qualified for ANY of it.

    And never SHALL be.

    • No, the school board didn’t fall for it, they pulled it off.
      They deliberately hired THE most malleable person they could rely on to do their bidding, has no experience to offer resistance and take the fall in the end.

  16. Mike ross: all more reason he be a conservative democrat and promote conservatism. Being a conservative doesn’t automatically mean one is republican. If the school board were conservative, they’d inform the caller what he wanted to know.

    • We seen Ktuu successfully slow-boil alaska to progressive and liberalism. I’d liketo see how
      It would slow-boil alaskans to conservatism changing who voters vote for and changing how alaskans think after accepting liberalism.
      I know ktuu could be successful.

  17. When you value and hire CRT / trans / wokeness over basic competence, this is what you get. Jharrett was and still is unqualified. The School Board majority led by Margo Bellamy knew he was unqualified but valued all the other garbage much higher. Remember this next April. Cheers –

  18. Now, I heard that he’s an “apprentice” and needs a mentor to show him the ropes for TWO YEARS at what COST????

  19. Did I read in the ADN correctly that the ASD board requested the AK national guard to come and drive buses??? While I feel for parents, I am glad the national guard told them to take a hike.

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