Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop
Vision for a new day in ASD
Welcome students, staff, and families!
Anchorage School District is in its second 100 years. What do we want to be? We have fiscal challenges to address. We don’t want to be like Lucius (Luke) Carpenter, a character from an obscure sitcom, The Second Hundred Years, who at age 33 was frozen in a glacier for decades and brought back to life. His character was a prospector for gold in Alaska in 1900 who became frozen in time. ASD doesn’t want to be frozen in time. The second 100 years is now. The future for our students is now.
In the sitcom, when Luke is “thawed” by the U.S. military, he is quite old, but physically like his grandson who was 33 years old. Making adjustments after being thawed, Luke finds he must learn a new modern language, eat strange foods, and wear uncomfortable clothes. On the whole, looking around at how things had changed, he said, “You know, I might just get to enjoy it.” Education is a moving, fluid experience at every level. In the last year, community leaders from all parts of our State joined together for Alaska’s Education Challenge, which is aligning the work with the mission of raising expectations and closing the achievement gap. Aligning the work will mean change.
Recently, Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner of Alaska Department of Education & Early Development spoke before the Senate Education Committee and said, “There’s no quick fix for social challenges that affect schools. They (Alaskans) must want great schools so much that they will do whatever it takes to have them.” I cast the same vision for ASD and ask—do we really want great schools so much that we will do whatever it takes to have them?
Since 2013, Anchorage’s enrollment has decreased by more than 1,000 students and the ASD employee footprint is 5 percent less today. In 15 years, ASD’s enrollment has declined by more than 3,250 students from its high in 2003. Projected enrollment for 2018-19 is 46,964, just slightly over 200 less than the current year. Because student enrollment drives the State funding formula, fewer students means less operating funds.
Without any change in the Base Student Allocation (BSA) from the State or other revenue increase, budget cuts of $13 million are required. To achieve the most with the dollars received, even with budget cuts, ASD is looking at investing in existing programs to offer:
- Added dual credit opportunities—opening King Tech
- Increased robotics and engaging science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) options
- Continued arts, music, co-curricular sports, and after-school activities
- Expanded preschool, family, and community engagement opportunities
ASD is advancing in equity and excellence in education. Though achievement outcomes are not today what we would wish, it is the goal to have every ASD student graduate from high school prepared and ready to take on life challenges and succeed in career opportunities. We want every student reading proficiently at or above grade level by the time he or she enters third grade. School safety and a welcoming environment for all students and staff is a top priority for the District.
Inside every child is a mind with skills and abilities waiting to be tapped. It is that mind that we nurture, teach, and grow. Let’s continue to build ASD. Together, let’s determine to do whatever it takes to make ASD schools great schools. Isn’t that what we really want? If we work for what we say we want, we may say, like Luke, “You know, I might just get to enjoy it.”
As a cornerstone of Alaska’s future, public education in the Anchorage School District focuses the work on three primary ideals: high quality education, positive customer experiences, and transparent accountability.
Dr. Deena Bishop