ASD to host community budget dialogues
Input requested on how to close a $15 million budget gap The district will host three budget dialogues to gather community input before it finalizes the 2011-12 school budget.
Current estimates place the General Fund budget gap at $15 million. This gap is caused by increases to utilities, supplies, employee contracts and other general cost of living increases. The estimate includes the district assuming full funding of the School Resource Officer program and half of the costs for local property tax billings and collections, as laid out in an Anchorage Assembly resolution. It also includes more than $7 million in revenue from the federal Education Jobs bill. See ASD School Board Memorandum # 125 - Fiscal Year 2011-2012 Financial Planning Discussion (http://www.asdk12.org/School_Board/Archives/2010-2011/20101108/I05M125.pdf) for the Assembly resolution and school board discussion.
This deficit does not include the cost of programs that were implemented as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus funds.
The district has contracted with local firms Information Insights and Agnew::Beck to host a series of community dialogues in the coming weeks. The gatherings will be similar to the municipality's budget meetings. There are three opportunities for staff, parents and the community to engage in the budget process. The meetings are as follows:
Dec. 1 at Clark Middle School, 6-9 p.m.
Dec. 2 at Hanshew Middle School, 6-9 p.m.
Dec. 4 at Gruening Middle School, 1-4 p.m.
A fourth budget dialogue meeting was held exclusively for Student Advisory Board members on Nov. 4. Community members and staff are urged to register for one of the community dialogues, either online at http://www.asdk12.org/depts/budget or by calling 742-4153.
The district will incorporate suggestions from the community dialogues, employee bargaining units, the district's online suggestion box and other input into the budget development process. A new value-based budget process is being implemented for the development of the 2011-12 General Fund budget. As part of this process, every department will be scrutinized to evaluate effectiveness and efficiency.
"This budget gap is extremely large and the outcome will be difficult and disappointing to all of us. Valued employees will lose their jobs, programs will be eliminated and user fees will likely increase," said Comeau.
Superintendent Comeau will present a balanced budget to the Anchorage School Board the third week of January as required by board policy and municipal charter.
The budget does not become final until approved by the Assembly in March. Even then, it may be revised based on legislative appropriation of education funding.
"There are concerns that the district cries wolf due to the timing of the budget process," said Chad Stiteler, Chief Financial Officer. "At this time, this gap is very real. We must base our budget on current guidance and assumptions. That information currently puts us $15 million in the hole. If the assembly and state Legislature choose to alter their current levels of support, we would then revise the budget accordingly."
More information on the budget and the development process is available on the district's budget website at http://www.asdk12.org/depts/budget. Parents, students and the community are also encouraged to submit suggestions in the online comment box found on that page.
A printable PDF version flier regarding the upcoming community dialogues can be downloaded at http://www.asdk12.org/depts/Budget/1112/Community_dialogue_flier.pdf.