January 21, 2016
Contact: Heidi Embley
Tonight, Superintendent Ed Graff will present the Anchorage School Board his administration’s budget recommendation for next school year which closes a $10.9 million budget gap.
The budget proposal is built on funding that is in Governor Bill Walker’s proposed budget along with state statute, which includes a $50 increase to the Base Student Allocation for next school year.
The budget recommendation was developed following a review of best practices and benchmarks, an analysis on potential impacts of reduced services and feedback offered by parents, staff and the community. The district provided several public engagement opportunities in order to gather feedback on what the community values in public education and recommended areas to consider for possible reduction. The community said it valued what the district had to offer and its teachers. Community members specifically asked the district not to cut art, music and sports. Recommended areas of reduction included transportation, assistant principals, clerical staff and administration.
“I am putting forward my administration’s best recommendation in order to support our students and continue providing a high-quality education, however, at the end of the day, we can’t close an $11 million gap without an impact to our schools, students and staff,” said Superintendent Graff.
The superintendent is recommending non-classroom position reductions include three assistant principals - one each in elementary, middle and high school, multi-sensory instruction coordinator, library resources clerk, one IGNITE teacher, two Maintenance carpenters, one media production specialist and various funding and supply reductions across support departments.
“We continue to reduce support positions in central administration and across the district. At the same time, we hear from principals, teachers and others who say the continued reductions are stretching support services very thin,” said Superintendent Graff. “I recognize these recommended reductions may have a direct impact on the level of service that parents, staff and students are accustomed to receiving.”
Additionally, the budget recommendation includes an adjustment of the pupil-teacher ratio by one student, which equates to 80 full-time teaching positions. While there is a potential for reductions in some elective programs or offerings, the district is not recommending cuts to specific elective programs.
Over the past four years, the district has increased direct classroom instruction while reducing support positions in order to keep the focus on students in the classroom.
Recommended additions to the budget include:
The district’s Transportation Fund, separate of its General Fund, must address a $2 million budget gap next year created by rapidly rising costs and flat revenue. In order to help close the gap, the administration will conduct a review of several potential route changes to ensure the adjustments can be made while maintaining a high level of safety and supervision. The review is occurring over the next few months, and includes consideration of service reductions, schedule adjustments and revenue generation.
Superintendent Ed Graff and school board members are committed to continuing conversations with state legislators regarding the importance of maintaining funding for education which they voted upon and approved two years ago.
“We recognize the uncertainty in the state’s finances, however it’s important that we maintain our investment in public education which will benefit the future of our state,” said Superintendent Graff.
The Municipality of Anchorage provides the maximum amount of funding to the district as allowed by state law.
Superintendent Graff will present his administration’s budget recommendation during the school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. today in the ASD Education Center boardroom. The school board’s budget readings will take place on Feb. 1 and 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the ASD Education Center boardroom.