Layoffs Coming to Anchorage School District This Week
Officials say with flat funding, cuts will be an issue every year
ANCHORAGE - Pink slips for teachers: About 40 Anchorage School District employees will be laid off this week.
That's according to school officials who say they had no choice. The teachers’ union says students will ultimately pay the price. Officials say with flat-funding from the state, cuts and layoffs among teachers are expected to be an issue every single year if nothing changes.
It’s a reality of teaching in the Anchorage School District. Pink slips are being handed out across the board.
A month ago, 140 positions were put on the chopping block because of budget cuts. The teachers with less experience are the ones who are getting the ax. “We are giving actual real layoff notices,” said ASD Superintendent Carol Comeau. “Our budget cuts and the amount of funding available to us requires us to lay off roughly between 37 and 39 teachers.”
In the past legislative session, lawmakers failed to increase the base student allocation, which limits how much money is given to school districts throughout the state.
School officials say they had no choice. “The sad thing is that we know we're going to lose some really outstanding employees,” said Comeau.
“If you’re a student looking forward to taking French next year at Service High School, you’re pretty disappointed,” said Anchorage School Board President Gretchen Guess.
“In a normal year, maybe 200-some people either retire, resign, quit, whatever, and they can easily absorb cuts like this,” said Anchorage Education Association President Jim Lepley. “In this particular case with the funding levels the way they are, it just wasn't possible.”
With the list of layoffs changing pretty much every single day, it’s an impact educators agree will affect students in the classroom. School officials say the proposed cutbacks will eliminate good programs. “For people who say it doesn't make any difference, or that we are spending too much money, well, if we spend half the amount of money and got rid of half the teachers, class sizes would be double – I mean is there we want to go?” asked Lepley.
School officials say they're disappointed. But with state lawmakers refusing to budge, how our students will be educated remains to be seen. “You don't run for office to have teacher layoffs,” said Guess. “We continuously are kind of flat-funded, we’re finding efficiencies in doing things differently, but I don't see changes in the future to these cuts.”
Clerical and other positions will go as well. The legislature gave the Anchorage School District one-time funding of $9 million, but school officials say it's not fiscally responsible to use that money to save jobs even for one year. Guess says starting on May 21 the school board will have conversations with the school district about the cuts to make sure they are in line with the district's commitment to a well rounded education.