School board president wants no dissent from Donley, who calls for accountability in spending and curriculum

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By DAVID BOYLE

The Anchorage School District is nearly $68 million in the hole for next year’s budget, mostly due to the board approving the use of one-time federal Covid relief money to pay salaries and benefits, which are recurring costs.

Again, the Anchorage School District has its hand out seeking more money from the Legislature for its failure to adhere to its fiduciary responsibility.  

At the Nov. 15 Anchorage School Board meeting, School Board member Dave Donley strongly encouraged the board members and the administration to focus on accountability if they want more funding from the Legislature. 

Alaska has the shortest school day and the shortest school year in the nation, Donley said. As the district seek more money, it should evaluate how short school days could be impacting student achievement and may not be the best use of limited resources.

A simple calculation shows a student could receive as much as one and one-half year less class time between kindergarten through 12th grade time, when compared with schools in most other states.

A winning strategy for more funding would be more accountability for the state dollars now expended, Donley said. 

He also said that there are winning curricula in the charter and ABC schools. The Spalding reading and Saxon math programs are successful as shown by the recent state tests. 

Yet, the district wants to close one of the ABC schools instead of closing a failing school. 

In the past 15-20 years the curricula decisions were taken away from the teachers and parents and given to committees; these committees were stacked by the superintendent.  

A few years ago, a math curriculum committee was formed by the district to replace the failing EveryDay Math program. This committee was made up of 35 people; only five were from the community.

The committee looked at five math programs. One of these was the Saxon program. It was the first one to be discarded. Today, it is the most successful program in the district’s charter and ABC schools.

It was clear that the district and the head of the math program wanted to go with a math program that was very similar to the EveryDay Math program. The district chose GoMath, which is EveryDay Math lite.

Parents were only invited to participate as “window dressing” to make it appear as if the public were actually involved in the selection process.

Donley also referred to the lack of student success in the state’s test scores. When he first was elected to the board, he asked how many third grade students were retained if they could not read at grade level.

The district responded that only four of the more than 3,000 students who could not either read or do math at grade level were retained, which is unfair to the students and jeopardizes their future learning.

Donley summed up by stating that the shortest day, the shortest year, and non-retention of students leads to low student achievement.

He wants the district to identify the unsuccessful classrooms, identify the causes, and solve this problem with resources–money.

How did the board respond?

Margo Bellamy, school board president, did not like public disagreement. She was at a loss for words on how to handle the “personal comment” period on the agenda, when comments were made that she doesn’t like.

“Everything doesn’t have to become a public disagreement or misunderstanding,” Bellamy said.

Her message to member Donley: Toe the line in public and present a united front. She also stated that even parents should present a united front.

David Boyle is the education writer for Must Read Alaska.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. If Dave was really smart, he’d transfer all of his own kids into private schools, or have them home schooled. Public education in Anchorage is the largest dumbed-down, brainwashing factory in the country.

  2. Education loving your kids again.

    You did this to yourself, Anchorage. You keep electing and re-electing them.

    Public education is child abuse

  3. As time goes on I wonder more and more about how Margo Bellamy managed to be elected as ASD school board president. She appears to be completely unsuitable and ill equipped for this role. She should be recalled somehow. A more competent member should replace her.

  4. The Democrats have always been against their slaves being educated. It has been said, “The slave does not want to be free, he wants to be the master”.

  5. Can we expect anything from Margo Bellamy? She should be thankful Dave Donley voted along with her to bail out the the Teamster’s union and fleece the Anchorage taxpayers. I will write to the Governor and tell him to not give her one red cent. PATHETIC Recall time. With the school closure perspective all she is doing is
    to rile up parents and have them demand demand more money . Have you ever seen them solve problems with more money? Me neither.

  6. Keep fighting Mr. Donley. Fight for the future of our students. Voters need to be aware of who their school board members members are and what they represent! Take a good look at what happened last week when the governors take a stand. Particularly Florida.

  7. Obviously(!!!), logic and common sense doesn’t register with the ASD Board. So, it’s long past due to ratchet up the heat until performance increases by a meaningful measure. Every Tax-Payer in Anchorage has a vestige interest as approximately 45% of our Property Taxes goes towards funding the ASD.
    “IF” you had an employee and/or contractor underperforming, year-after-year, why would you continue to reward them with additional funding.
    “AND” when do we hold the ASD Board and NEA personally liable for such poor performance?

  8. I think the city should raise property taxes say double them because it’s for the kids and we can’t cut anything as we are running as lean as we can. What about the 26 teacher advisors hired a few years ago? The Anchorage tax payers will get caught holding the bag and the politicians will gloat and high five their good job they have done.

  9. The Anchorage Education Industry Board of Directors Chair wants no dissent, wants people to shut up.
    .
    If Margo’s past performance is any indication, parents never had reason to expect anything good for children or for taxpayers from this individual, so it’s unlikely parents would be surprised or even disappointed at her latest edict.
    .
    Parents should be careful though. They don’t know what the Anchorage Education Industry Board of Directors and Margo have in store for them after the National School Boards Association September 2021 letter to President Biden requesting that parents protesting at school board meetings be investigated as domestic terrorists under the Patriot Act.
    (documentcloud.org/documents/21094557-national-school-boards-association-letter-to-biden)
    .
    We’re unimpressed, but cynically amused by Anchorage Education Industry Board of Directors Member Dave Donley, the Union Guy, using the word “accountability”.
    .
    Apparently the Union Guy’s idea of “accountability” is voting with his school-board pals to give his union pals every school-district contract worth more than a million taxpayer dollars. (mustreadalaska.com/anchorage-school-board-votes-for-construction-monopoly-by-labor-unions/)
    .
    With theft and money laundering raised to such an art form, it’s a wonder all school-district contracts aren’t padded to exceed a million dollars
    .
    … or maybe they are. Taxpayers will never know.
    .
    Now that’s “accountability”.
    .
    Right, Union Guy?

  10. The school district fully supports the unions. Case in point only union contractors can bid and do school district work. Where is the state AG as this is discrimination against anchorage tax payers who are non union but can do no school district work. This is not legal.

      • A RICO primer can be found at ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/training/primers/2022_Primer_RICO.pdf.
        .
        Look also at 29 U.S. Code § 186 – “Restrictions on financial transactions (a) Payment or lending, etc., of money by employer or agent to employees, representatives, or labor organizations, and (b) Request, demand, etc., for money or other thing of value”
        .
        At (b)(1) we have: “It shall be unlawful for any person to request, demand, receive, or accept, or agree to receive or accept, any payment, loan, or delivery of any money or other thing of value prohibited by subsection (a).”
        .
        The challenge is finding and exploiting organizational and personal vulnerabilities which would expose a pattern of racketeering, pattern being the key word.
        .
        The Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, may be a resource: “This chapter focuses on the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C. § 1951) which prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Section 1951 also proscribes conspiracy to commit robbery or extortion without reference to the conspiracy statute at 18 U.S.C. § 371. Although the Hobbs Act was enacted as a statute to combat racketeering in labor-management disputes, the statute is frequently used in connection with cases involving public corruption, commercial disputes, violent criminals and street gangs, and corruption directed at members of labor unions.”
        (https://www.justice.gov/jm/jm-9-131000-hobbs-act-18-usc-1951)
        .
        Anchorage School District employees can be encouraged to blow the whistle by filing qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S. Code § 3729, against what they see as waste, fraud, and abuse.
        .
        If a qui tam lawsuit succeeds, the whistleblower can collect up to 30% of the damages.
        .
        The False Claims Act also protects whistleblowers from employer retaliation.

  11. Dave Donley is the only voice of reason on the Anchorage School Board. Accountability! How Dare You! Margo Bellamy is unqualified and unprepared to lead ASD students to success. Listen to the comments and suggestions by Dave Donley and change public education in Anchorage to the benefit of students! Scrap the poor performing curriculum and start again with the best for students not the easiest for educators. This winter should be the “era of recovery” back to basics. Principles need to assess every classroom under their supervision with a report card to the public! Rate them A, B, C, D or F and make this information public! No explanation is needed, just rate the success of every classroom at their school.
    Increasing the days of instruction as well as the length of the educational day provides the time necessary to teach and gives students the opportunity to learn what they need in EVERY grade to be promoted. No more moving a child up when they have not been prepared in their current grade.
    I can assist with a classroom matrix to get this process going. Let’s get individual classroom results and the overall Principle Report by Spring Break, 2023 and then make rational and reasonable decisions for educating our children.
    “Back to Basics and Reason”

  12. Do you have to be an unfit, overweight person to be in the Anchorage school board.
    Jeez.
    We need energy and stamina in the board to fight the bureaucratic complacency.
    I’m not fat shaming – but in the private sector business world – I find fit people that eat right and exercise – over the long haul are more productive, have the energy to be creative, and the stamina to challenge stale business cultures and effect change.
    We HAVE to be better than this.
    We HAVE to challenge this failed model we are foisting on our children.

  13. Dave Donley should ask his six colleagues to re-read the board’s Core Values and Beliefs, particularly the one about accountability (from the school board section of the District’s website):
    “ACCOUNTABILITY: The District will be open, transparent and accountable 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.”

  14. Dave is talking real sense to these idiots he has to attempt to work with and is totally outgunned by these idiots. And I would be surprised if any or the rest of the board could pass an exit exam for high school. The inmates are running the asylum.

  15. Why are not more people
    From eagle river speaking about how two years ago asd said they needed 98 million to rebuild eagle river elementary and gruening middle school. And said FEMA would pay? Now we are closing schools? What?

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