Anchorage School Board revises district's proposed budget
Budget now heads to the assembly for public comment
The Anchorage School Board revised the district's preliminary 2012-13 budget at its meeting last night. The revisions reinstate many programs and positions recommended for cuts by the superintendent, while reducing others.
During the two public meetings regarding next year's school budget, more than one hundred people testified in support of programs that were originally slated for reduction. The board and superintendent also received several hundred email messages regarding the proposed budget.
"I extend my sincere thanks to the community, students and employees who gave very thoughtful and important testimony on the potential impacts of the recommended cuts," said Superintendent Carol Comeau. "I am very gratified that the board reinstated some very important positions. Following the board's direction, my staff will now begin working through the new reductions the board passed last night."
After Thursday's public testimony, the board made the following changes to the superintendent's proposal.
Elementary librarians, four full-time positions
Special Education counselors, nine full-time positions
High school graduation coaches, nine full-time positions
Gifted program staff, three full-time positions
Modified middle school in-school suspension program
Maintenance positions, six full-time positions
The increases in class sizes for grades 4-6 were eliminated and the board approved a further reduction at those grade levels. The pupil-teacher ratios for grades 4-6 are now the lowest in nearly 20 years.
Non-school based clerical staff, approximately eight positions
Educational Technology, one position
Assessment and Evaluation, one position
West High School master plan facilitator
School board travel account for staff lobbying
Equipment Replacement Fund
Budgeted attrition - salaries and benefits
Unallocated funds for middle and high schools
School supplies, $5 per student at all schools
A number of other recommended program eliminations were accepted, including: all summer school; middle school career guides; two student support program supervisors; and Curriculum, English Language Learner, Purchasing/Warehouse and custodial positions. One-time cuts to bandwidth, computer equipment refresh and utility costs were also accepted. Reductions were also made in nearly every department districtwide.
"I believe many of positions and programs being reduced are important to providing a high-level education," said Comeau. "We will continue to make our case for increased educational funding to the mayor, Anchorage Assembly members, state legislature and the governor. We are still near the beginning of a very long process that will not end until the legislature and governor have completed their action in April or later."
The district's budget is scheduled for public hearing at the March 27 assembly meeting.