Anchorage School District looks to fill budget gap
The Anchorage School District is looking at a budget deficit next year. Superintendent Deena Paramo said it’s likely to be about $15,000,000 — and that’s if the legislature doesn’t make more cuts to education.
Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed budget, which came out earlier this week, calls for keeping the student funding formula, known as the BSA, the same. But Paramo said the district has costs it can’t control that go up from year to year. This year, she said, the district is paying out a lot more for transportation because of a new state law that mandated higher wages for school bus drivers. Paramo said she’d like to see the state help out with the costs. Despite that, Paramo said, she feels confident about finding savings from within the district.
“I’m looking at administrative changes, efficiency changes. We are working with the municipality on prices and really looking at every dollar that we can to stay clear of our classrooms with kids,” said Paramo.
Paramo said she won’t be shy about asking the school board to dip into a reserve account that currently has $29,000,000.
“I would look to ask the board to use the savings account that’s kept for a rainy day and allowable by state law to be used. So that it’s not this abrupt cliff that we are falling off of.”
Paramo says she doesn’t anticipate laying-off teachers next year, or increasing classroom sizes. She said another plan that looked at closing some schools to save money is off the table.
According to Paramo, the district does plan to ask the Anchorage Assembly to put a $58,000,000 school bond on the April ballot. She said the district has retired other bond debt, so if this one passes, there won’t be an increase in property taxes to pay for it.
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