Anchorage School District Superintendent Jim Browder unveiled the district’s first proposed budget under his tenure Friday, with the 2013-2014 school year slated to see more than 100 layoffs and a $25 million reduction in spending.
The 215 lost jobs include those Browder announced in November when he said the district would lose 100 positions to attrition, generating an estimated savings of $4 million this year. While he said at the time that ASD was working to ensure that the cuts didn’t negatively affect classrooms, the district’s support staff union said they would impose additional burdens on remaining personnel.
In a Friday statement, Browder says the cuts are necessary to close a $25 million gap between ASD's costs and revenue, with Gov. Sean Parnell planning to keep state education funding flat this year.
Parnell told Channel 2 Thursday that previous increases in the state’s funding of schools haven’t been accompanied by matching results.
"Over the last five years, we have had record increases in education funding; hundreds of millions of extra dollars that were not funded before are now being funded on an annual basis, with graduation rates just below 70 percent,” Parnell said. “That is not a passing grade -- we can do better.”
Browder says ASD’s current staffing levels don’t match up with its student body, with 88 percent of district expenses coming from salaries and benefits.
"The fact of the matter is that, over the last decade, enrollment has dropped about 1.5 percent while staffing has increased 13 percent," Browder said. "A review of our organization showed our staffing levels heavy in some areas. Peer districts across the country are showing us that reduced staffing levels can be successful."
Browder’s first budget contains steeper cuts than the one ASD is operating under this school year, which was crafted by outgoing superintendent Carol Comeau before she retired in June. That budget, approved by the Anchorage School Board in February with about $20 million in cuts, slashed an estimated 87 full-time equivalent positions in district support staff and increased average class sizes in all classes from grades 3 through 12.
ASD says Friday’s budget not only doesn’t cut any teachers, but adds 24 classroom teachers by rounding average student-teacher ratios down. Some 40 positions are expected to be cut from central office support, including:
- Custodial, maintenance and administrative assistance personnel
- Teacher assistants and tutors
- Resource advisors
- Support coordinators
- Teacher experts and consultants
The district will also reduce travel by 50 percent, as well as reducing its supply and equipment budget by $3.4 million and its school registration costs by $150,000.
Browder will present his proposed budget to the Anchorage School Board on Thursday, at 2:30 p.m. in the Education Center boardroom.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.