January 18, 2013
Contact: Heidi Embley
Phone: (907) 742-4158
Budget focuses resources on the classroom while reducing support by $25 million
Today the Anchorage School District released its proposed budget for the 2013-14 school year. The budget proposal outlines a district realignment based on the district’s strategic plan.
“This budget process began in July and has been very thoughtful,” said Anchorage School Board President Jeannie Mackie. “The board gave clear direction to the administration to make strategic decisions and focus on the classroom.”
Under the guidelines provided by the board, Superintendent of Schools Jim Browder, and his staff developed the proposal by focusing on keeping resources in the classroom and implementing initiatives for creating a high-performing district.
"I believe that by reviewing and realigning our efforts, we will get to where we need to be," said Browder.
The governor's proposed state budget calls for flat funding to education while the district's costs continue to rise due to increases in negotiated salaries, health care benefits, utilities and fuel. Next year's proposed budget closes a $25 million gap between costs and revenue. That's a reduction of 4.4 percent of the district's $573 million General Fund budget.
Because 88 percent of the district's expenses are salaries and benefits, in order to close the budget gap, Superintendent Browder began by reviewing all staffing level proportions using benchmarks and best practices.
"The fact of the matter is that, over the last decade, enrollment has dropped about 1.5 percent while staffing has increased 13 percent," said Browder. "A review of our organization showed our staffing levels heavy in some areas. Peer districts across the country are showing us that reduced staffing levels can be successful."
Approximately 215 positions are slated for elimination in the 2013-14 proposed budget. More than half of those have been or will be through attrition, reducing the need for staff layoffs.
"Our employees work hard every day and provide a lot of value to our students," said Browder. "These cuts aren't easy but we have to reduce our staff levels to balance our budget and managing attrition is the best way to do that."
The depth of the cuts is more than the district can obtain through attrition. Additional position eliminations are strategic and designed to support Destination 2020 by realigning and streamlining efforts within the district. The reductions focus on the central office and positions outside of the classroom.
In the proposal, central office support is reduced by $5 million, including 40 positions. School-based support services are reduced in custodial and maintenance, school administrative assistance, teacher assistants and tutors, counselors, resource advisors and support coordinators, and teacher experts and consultants.
No classroom teacher positions are recommended for elimination. Instead, current pupil-teacher ratio numbers will be rounded down, resulting in an increase of 24 classroom teachers.
Other reductions include $3.4 million from supplies and equipment districtwide, a 50 percent reduction in travel and a $150,000 reduction in school registration costs.
Superintendent Browder will present his administration’s budget recommendation to the school board at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24 in the Education Center boardroom. The board will hold two public hearings and vote on the budget proposal. The first reading will take place on Feb. 4 and the second reading and final vote will occur on Feb. 21. Both budget readings begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Education Center boardroom.
Destination 2020: ASD's Strategic Plan
Budget graphs - includes FY14 Prelim Budget vs FY13 Budget; ASD General Fund staffing (FTE); and District General Fund distribution