Anchorage The Anchorage Assembly opted to wait until its next meeting on Tuesday, March 20th before deciding whether to approve the appropriate funds for the Anchorage School Districts 2018-2019 Budget. The Assembly can only total the amount of money the school system needs, not designate what and where the ASD spends those dollars.
ASD has said that it's highly likely that major cuts will need to be made to teachers and possibly classes to make financial ends meet, including paying off portions of their more than $13 million worth of debt. Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson said the district wants to make sure that students in their early stages of education, like elementary schools, are in no way impacted, meaning high school and middle schools would suffer.
"Because at high school once you start spreading out have lots of different classes then you have a little more flexibility you may have classes with small numbers of students or some like band and orchestra you'll have 80-90 students so High School was where we thought we could take the most risk," said Anderson.
So, how exactly would ASD decide which teachers and programs should stay or go? According to Anderson, there is a plan to address the issue, but they can't make any decisions until they are able to see returns from principals of all 8 Anchorage high schools that show exactly what classes the majority of students are and are not signing up for.
"It'll probably be the April-May time frame before we can really give you an answer as to which classes may or may not be available for students next year," said Anderson.
House Bill 339 would add an extra $100 to the Base Student Allocation pushing it from $5,930 per pupil to $6,030 per pupil. Anderson said that extra hundred dollars a student could result in nine million dollars’ worth of difference for the district.
"So we'd be able to make up a lot of the teacher reductions we've had to make over the last two years and give us more flexibility to implement more programs that the students need right now," said Anderson.
It's almost a certainty according to Anderson that if they are forced to reduce teachers in the ASD there will either be an increase in class sizes or a reduction in class options for students.