Anchorage charter schools seeking facilities, school board discussing solutions

The Anchorage School District is considering ways to help charter schools find permanent facilities. ASD has six facility-based charter schools and one more that’s petitioning for creation. Most of them are have difficulty finding and paying for adequate building space, especially the German immersion program, Rilke Schule, and the proposed math, science, and arts middle school.

Joey Eski has children at Aquarian, which has a building but needs to expand. “Having support from the school district for facilities for charter schools, allows the school to focus on their program and really achieve their mission without being bogged down with facility problems,” she told the school board during their late session on Monday evening.

School Board member Natasha von Imhof says one potential solution is creating a $5 million Charter School Facility Fund. It would give low-interest loans to the schools to build or lease space. She says the creation of the fund might attract future federal and state dollars.

But School Board President Eric Croft thinks it might be better to bond to build new schools.

“The more I stare at the charter facilities problems, Rilke’s and others, the more convinced I’ve become that we can’t continue asking charters to find facilities out there. It’s difficult to find an abandoned school.”

Other possibilities include building one facility to house multiple different charter schools.

Von Imhof also put forth a different proposal to provide more immediate funding to Rilke Schule, which will not have a building next year.

Both proposals were added to the agenda right before the meeting started. They will be discussed in more depth and voted on during the December 15 school board meeting.