Anchorage School Board considers wide-ranging budget cuts

The Anchorage School Board is discussing the possible ways to cut $29.4 million from their budget for next year. The $784 million budget passed last month but needs to be adjusted for proposed funding cuts from the state legislature.

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Superintendent Ed Graff presented a list of ways to reduce the budget. It includes everything from cutting early learning pilot programs to save $7.8 million to outsourcing sports programs to save $4.2 million. Another possibility cuts about 117 teachers and increases class sizes to save $11.7 million.

School Board member Kameron Perez-Verdia stated the problem bluntly. “This sucks. And none of us want to do it.” However, “I think a practical exercise is necessary. We are going to be in a position where we need to make these decisions.”

Board members Natasha Von Imhof and Tam Agosti-Gisler say they need more information on the specific impacts of the cuts, such as what different positions do, before making decisions.

After further discussion, Board president Eric Croft concluded that most board members support protecting classroom instruction first.

The conversation is ongoing and the board says they will not make a final decision until they know the full magnitude of the final state cuts. If they lay off teachers, they have to tell tenured teachers by May 15.