ASD eyes $20 million cut to education funding as budget amendment due date looms

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The Governor's 2019 budget amendments are officially due Wednesday, Feb. 13, and the Anchorage School District is concerned about how a proposed cut to education would impact area schools.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed a $20 million cut to education, a slash that ASD Superintendent Deena Bishop said would compromise ASD’s current budget plan.

Last year, legislators approved $20 million for distribution between 53 different Alaska school districts with HB 287. The bill used general fund money expressly for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018, and ending June 30, 2019, unless otherwise indicated. Bishop said ASD based the current budget for FY 2019 off of a similar increase.

"In the Governor's budget, it's changed since it was passed last year,” Bishop said. “We're going to wrestle with that and see what we can do. But, we did build our budget on HB 287."

Gov. Dunleavy's proposal would essentially redistribute that $20 million to other departments that he said are "underfunded," bringing education funding back to the statutory formula, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Data from the Department of Education and Early Development also shows the Anchorage School District was expected to receive close to $5.8 million by itself. Bishop said losing that money could mean the district would either have to cut programs or somehow come up with the money on its own.

“To say that things have to stop and the sky’s falling, that’s not true, because we’re a very conservative district where we have a savings for unforeseen things such as this,” Bishop said. “But, it’s really a true impact and a picture for next year, what are we going to expect?”

Bishop said the school board has begun addressing the possible reduction, but it's too early in the legislature to make assumptions.