Hundreds of Jobs Cut in Approved Anchorage School Budget
School board approves budget that saves counselor, teachers jobs, but cuts hundreds
ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage school board approved a $720 million budget for the upcoming school year. But it came at the expense of more than 200 jobs, including high school and middle school teacher positions that were slated to be filled next year.
The school board said many of those jobs will be lost through attrition. And despite some difficult cuts, they said the budget actually adds new teachers.
Many of the jobs lost will be outside the classroom, including maintenance and clerical jobs, as well as support staff like career resource advisors and graduation support coordinators. Several school counselor jobs were also set to be eliminated, but during public testimony residents urged the board to reconsider cutting those counselors. The message got through.
“One of our priorities in this proposed budget, was to not balance the budget on the back of class size any longer,” said Jeannie Mackie, the president of the Anchorage School Board. “We collectively decided, as a board, we can no longer do that.”
She said to ensure the counselor positions could be kept, the board to eliminate 8 teaching positions in grades 7 through 12. “So class size will remain then same for next year,” Mackie said. It was a plan from Superintendent Jim Browder that the school board supported in their 6-1 vote on the budget. One counselor will be kept for each of the city's public high schools.
The Anchorage Educator’s Association supported the move.
“They decided not to ad those teaching positions, so its not in any way going to affect anyone who's working right now,” AEA President Any Holleman said. “Those positions never got created, no one was ever hired in to them and they just won't get created now.”
The budget still brings 15 new teachers to elementary schools throughout Anchorage. With soft funding from Juneau, Mackie said that's good news.
“We are at a time where we must determine alternative ways to deliver services,” she said. “We are streamlining, we are narrowing our focus, and it's a must, its something we have to do.”
Holleman agreed. “The hard fact is, you look at what you can cut that affects the least number of students,” he said. “Unfortunately, that's the choice we're left with. So we know it worked last year, we know it'll work next year... so the district has got to get smaller because of flat funding.”
The school board says, despite the cuts and the job eliminations, the new budget maintains the district-wide student teacher ratio at roughly 25 to 1.