School District Cuts Jobs, Saves $4 Million
ANCHORAGE - Finding ways to fix a $25 million budget shortfall isn’t easy for the Anchorage School District, but Wednesday it reduced the deficit by more than $4 million with the elimination of 100 jobs.
The positions were all vacant through attrition and combining multiple positions into one.
No teachers lost their job.
Superintendent Jim Browder said it’s time to be more efficient under budget constraints.
“We are combining responsibilities to be more efficient inside of how we operate,” said Browder at the ASD legislative luncheon today.
Browder took advice from a recent audit of the ASD.
“They said there were several areas where we are overstaffed and we've started to focus on those areas and reduce as there's attrition,” he said.
The positions cut include teaching assistants, tutors and secretaries as well as curriculum and financial staff and various director-level positions.
The new superintendent has big goals for the Anchorage students.
“We want 90 percent proficiency from our students in reading writing and math by 2020,” he said, addressing Anchorage legislators and school board staff. "So we've got a lot of work to do,” he said.
That goal is going to be hard to attain at current state funding levels, according to School Board Member Gretchen Guess.
“We've got $25 million to cut every year. $25 million is 4 to 5 percent,” said Guess, addressing legislators.
“We have to flip the budget process on it's head; we need to start with: who are the students in the classroom and what resource they need. And we all know that different children need different resources but our budget process needs to support that.”
School officials said the greatest challenge is convincing the state legislature to fund the school district to a level that keeps up with inflation.
“That is one of our top legislative priorities for the year,” said Jeannie Mackie, president of the Anchorage School Board. “To provide more predictable and stable funding for the district so that we are not making last minute decisions and giving the community the perception that we are crying wolf which undermines our credibility.”