Anchorage School District Superintendent Ed Graff is getting ready to propose a new budget amendment package that would reinstate 86 classroom teaching positions out of the original 143 that were set for elimination.
"We are very appreciative of the funding that we received from the state and local governments; unfortunately we don't have enough to sustain us for the next three years," Graff told reporters at a press conference on Friday.
Graff says with recent additional funding from the Municipality of Anchorage, fewer teaching positions will be eliminated than originally anticipated.
"When we started we had 143 teaching positions that were eliminated in this budget -- we're proposing to add back 86 teaching positions across the district," Graff said.
The remaining jobs that will still be cut include 44 elementary, 30 middle school and 12 high school positions.
Anchorage Education Association President Andy Holleman says while it helps to have more teachers reinstated, the overall quality of education will still suffer.
"The bottom line is the services to kids are going to be diminished in the fall, there's no way around that," Holleman said. "It is simply a question of how much and whether the district tries to put us on a glide path downward or go as strong as they can for another year, and potentially face a lot of the same agony that they're going through right now."
Holleman says even if the school district didn't have to eliminate staff, other problems would still exist within the district.
"Even if everything was handled through attrition and there wasn't any personal damage, you would still have bigger classrooms, you would still have a lack of counselors, or you would still have a lack of teaching assistants," Holleman said.
Other changes within Graff's amendment package include focusing on early literacy by adding 18 teachers to maintain class sizes in kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade as well as adding instructional coaches.
The proposal does not include a recommendation to add back more than 48 support staff positions, swimming classes, a decrease in supply and material funds and other reductions approved as part of the original budget.
Over the next three years, nearly $15 million of the district's funding from the state will go into ASD's eght charter schools as directed by the state Legislature.
While it's challenging to find a compromise that pleases everyone, Graff says the No. 1 priority must be the students.
"This proposal is on the students first, and where they get the most bang for their buck is with the classroom teacher," Graff said.