The Anchorage School District will soon open its doors for the 2013-14 calendar and on Monday, ASD welcomed 218 new teachers with a special orientation.
Fresh faces like Ash'shan'ta' Swisher are getting ready for the upcoming school set to begin on Aug. 21.
"I thought okay, let's try this, i've always wanted to come since i was twelve to Alaska," said Swisher, who moved from Colorado to be a special education teacher at Clark Middle School. "Being in a job anyway will be uncertain to begin with, you never know what could happen."
Longevity is a question mark these days at ASD, especially in light of budget woes, that threaten to slash teacher jobs. Over the past few years, a more than $20 million dollar budget shortfall has resulted in cuts to school programs and staff.
"We could be facing the same situation and that really puts it in the hands of the legislature," said Andy Holleman, President of the Anchorage Education Association. "If they adjust the BSA [base student allocation] for inflation than we can do this because obviously the district and the new hires isn't expanding their employee pool."
According to AEA, teacher numbers are down this year and if things continue, recruitment of new ones will be a challenge if they fear their jobs would go first.
"Going out and taking on a $200,000 mortgage when your not sure you are going to have a job the following fall probably not the smartest thing to do,” said Holleman.
District officials say they lose 9% of their teachers annually and if cuts are made, specific content areas like counseling would be the initial target.
"We lose to retirement, we lose to spouses moving," said Rob Donohue-Boyer, who is the executive director for ASD's Human Resources. "We hire a large number of elementary, even if I'm hired this year, if there were layoffs in that particular area, I'm probably not going to be impacted.”
Even with the 218 hires, the district says it is still looking to fill 30 to 35 more certified teacher jobs mostly in special education or related services areas.
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