School board needs to trim $13 million from 2019 budget
The Anchorage School district is looking at every single option when it comes to carving out $13 million dollars from the $700 million budget for 2019. State statute, as well as municipality ordinance, presents that the district has a balanced budget by March 1, 2019.
"We have to take the revenue by which we are basing this budget on which was the Governor's proposal," ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said. "The match that to your expenses. That is what is legally binding presently. We will continue the legislative push but this action in the budget is statutory as well as ordinance driven."
The district's deficit as briefed in December's Proforma sits at $13.1 million dollars. That estimate assumes flat funding from state, local and federal revenue and a continuation of this year's expenses. The district also sent out a community survey internally and externally to gauge what is most important in the schools. The findings from the over 3,000 people who responded said the top priority was class size, clean and safe schools along with rigorous course offerings. Some of the district teachers felt all of this is possible without having to make any cuts.
"I just made seven suggestions on how teachers can do more with less," One teacher said. "Only one would cost money and five would actually save the district money. I will ask a question that was not on the recent surveys sent out to our community. How can the administration do more with less?"
Anchorage Education Association President Tom Klaameyer also spoke to the school board and didn't envy the decisions that have to be made.
"I feel we've placed ourselves in a box to make those decisions," Klaameyer said. "I know there is no such thing as free lunch and everything is a trade off kind of thing. That means we accept the premise that there is no money. The state clearly has priorities and decides what is to be spent and it forces us into a situation where we pit academics versus activities and we make the false choice of either paying to attract and retain quality educators or we have to increase class size. That's not the way it ought to be. We do a budget process and say these are the things we want to do and assuming flat funding, we are already $13 million short, so what are we going to cut? It forces us into that rather than working in a partnership and saying this is what it costs for a rich, robust, varied education that educates the whole child."
The school board will take as many ideas possible before a budget briefing meeting on February 5. Next, the final board vote follows on February 20. After the vote is handed down, it is presented to the Assembly before the deadline of March 1. The assembly then votes on the budget and sends it to the state before April 1, 2018.
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