Teachers took to the streets Saturday, rallying against Gov. Sean Parnell's education budget as well as deep cuts in the Anchorage School District's proposed budget for the 2013-2014 school year.
ASD teachers and school staffers stood outside of the Anchorage Legislative Information Office building on 4th Avenue Downtown with signs in opposition to the proposed budget. Eagle River High School art teacher Jacob Bera says he was hit hard when he heard about the proposed budget's 215 lost positions.
“We learned specifically that we're going to start losing individuals that are very important to our school running,” Bera says.
Bera says with a $25 million shortfall in funding needed to keep Anchorage schools at their current staffing levels, Eagle River High will likely have to give up a school counselor position.
“At our schools we serve a lot of students with family in the military, especially ones overseas," Bera said. "And with events going on nowadays -- with violence -- counselors are vitally important.”
State Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) spoke at the rally Saturday in support of expanding the state's education budget.
“We need to move forward with education, stop cutting staff statewide; this is the third year in a row it's happening,” Gara said.
Gara claims that Parnell's budget, which offers major oil tax breaks meant to stimulate production while keeping education spending flat, prioritizes corporations over children.
“The public needs to demand that kids be treated as first-class citizens, that money go into schools -- and money not go into the governor's plans to give away one to two billion dollars to the oil industry, where he lets them take the money outside and spend it on other places,” Gara said.
Despite the partisan issues brought up Saturday, people attending the rally say they want legislators to come together when it comes to the education budget.
Contact Mallory Peebles