Message from the Superintendent

  • ASD Community,jb

     

    I am writing to seek your input on an incredibly important topic: The future of the Anchorage School District’s (ASD) facilities in our community.

     

    Currently, ASD operates 91 buildings throughout Anchorage. More than 90% of those buildings are schools. To be clear, every one of our school campuses offers something special to our community. Our campuses are filled with wonderful teachers, are conveniently located in many of our neighborhoods, and have produced thousands of alumni and members of our community. The time has come for us to consider a number of other facts as well. 

     

    • Many of our buildings were constructed more than 30 years ago and are in need of critical upgrades and maintenance to support the students of today. In fact, current deferred maintenance costs for ASD buildings are approaching $1 billion.  

    • In the last 10 years, the Municipality of Anchorage (MoA) has seen a decrease of 17,000 working-age adults and nearly 5,000 fewer students in our schools.

    • More families than ever are opting for different modalities of learning. For example, ASD correspondence school enrollment has more than doubled since the 2014-15 school year. Similarly, enrollment in ASD choice programs has grown over time. Most of ASD’s charter schools are housed in leased buildings with high rent payments or in buildings that are unsuitable in size or design to fully accommodate their growing enrollment.

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  • Rightsizing

      Why now?

      • School Kids

        The Anchorage School District (ASD) is initiating the Rightsizing ASD initiative due to pressing needs and changing community dynamics. 

         

        ASD’s infrastructure is aging; many buildings are over 30 years old and in need of critical upgrades and maintenance. As our buildings age, our population is decreasing. Demographic shifts in Anchorage include a decrease in working-age adults and fewer students enrolled in ASD over the past decade. 

         

        However, more families are opting for different modalities of learning. Correspondence school enrollment has more than doubled since the 2014-15 school year. Similarly, enrollment in ASD choice programs has grown over time. Most of ASD’s charter schools are housed in leased buildings with high rent payments or in buildings that are unsuitable in size or design to fully accommodate their growing enrollment.

         

        Our underutilized campuses present a major barrier that could be sustainably addressed with an intentional school consolidation plan. ASD is seeking community input to thoughtfully reimagine, redesign, and rightsize ASD to offer a world-class education tailored to future realities, conditions, and resources.

      Aging facilities

      • Building

        The Anchorage School District operates and maintains 91 facilities; 84 schools and 7 operational facilities. The average age of district facilities is 37 years. There are 33 facilities over 50 years old, including 16 facilities that are 60 years or older.

         

        The State provided the bulk of the funding for school district facilities, by providing 60% - 70% reimbursement for school bonds, until 2015. Since January 2015, the State has not provided any bond debt reimbursement to the school districts. Deferred maintenance within the District’s facilities has increased during the past 10 years. In 2013, the District’s deferred maintenance was just under $170 million. In 2023, the deferred maintenance was just over $1 billion.


         

      Declining population

      • TeacherThe Anchorage working-age population has declined more than 17,000 residents (8.5% decline) in the last decade, and ASD student enrollment has declined approximately 5,000 students (9.6% decline). Birth rates among Anchorage residents since 2018 have continued to decrease among child-bearing adults and we have seen that this trend is common across the nation.

      Education service

      • student

        ASD’s students require more specialized services, beyond the education classroom, than in the past.

         

        Schools with low enrollment are challenged with providing the same level of service that can be supported at larger schools. Small schools see the following impacts across a district as large as Anchorage.

        • Specialty teachers (art, music, PE, and special education) and Specialists (speech, counseling, literacy coaches, occupational & physical therapists, speech language pathologists, etc.) spend significant amounts of time traveling to multiple schools, lowering the amount of time they can spend with students.

        • Combination classes in elementary schools have become more common. For instance, there may be only one 1st grade class and one 2nd grade class that are both small, so they are merged in order to make up a whole class. These combined classes make it more difficult for teachers to spend individual time with each student.

        • At middle and high schools, small enrollments end up reducing course offerings, the amount of times desired classes can be taught in a single day, and access to sports and extracurricular activities.

        • Schools with 3 or more sections per grade (3 first grade classes, 3 second grade classes, etc.) generally have more resources for students. 

        • Schools with less than 2 sections per grade will routinely see many or most of the challenges discussed in the preceding bullets.

      Resources