The Anchorage School District presented its 2012-2013 budget to the city’s school board Monday, including a variety of cuts to positions and programs as well as increases in class size meant to bridge a $19 million budget shortfall.ASD Superintendent Carol Comeau’s proposed $569.1 million general budget represents a $1.6 million increase in spending over the district’s 2011-2012 budget, but also a net loss of an estimated 87 full-time equivalent positions.
Groups facing job losses include elementary-school counselors, librarians and assistants, as well as warehouse and custodial employees. Under Comeau’s proposal, the district would add only two new positions: an ACE program special services teacher and a coordinator for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program.
Eliminated programs include:
• Summer school in elementary, middle and high school
• High school graduation coaches
• Middle school career guides
• Middle school in-school suspension teachers
• Student support program supervisors
• A master plan facilitator at Romig Middle School
“These are extremely difficult cuts to make,” Comeau said in a statement Monday. “If we had the funds, I think we would have made very few cuts to these programs that are helping our students, particularly our struggling students. But we have to make tough choices in order to produce a balanced budget.”
Comeau also recommended increasing class sizes in grades 3 through 12, a move expected to save about $4.6 million. Classes in grade 3 would add half a student on average, while classes in grades 4 through 8 would add one student and classes in grades 9 through 12 would add 1.5 students.
“Class-size increases are the last thing we look at when trying to balance the budget,” Comeau said. “We know this is a very important issue for our teachers, principals, students and the community.”
The district has lost several sources of funding from last year, including a one-time $7.6 million grant from the federal Jobs Bill to keep teachers on its rolls, as well as a $1.8 million drop in funds due to an enrollment decrease of 130 students -- about one third of 1 percent of the district’s current enrollment.
No changes are being proposed to sports, parking or activity fees.
The budget next heads to the Anchorage School Board for evaluation, beginning with two work sessions this week to review the new budget as well as funds for individual departments. Any changes to the budget will be made by the board at meetings on Feb. 1 and Feb. 9, both of which will begin at 5 p.m.
Members of the public may comment on the budget by testifying at an upcoming board meeting or sending email to email@example.com.
Email Ted Land at firstname.lastname@example.org