ASD’s revised budget cuts 57 filled positions

Superintendent Ed Graff discusses budget amendments due to $16.7 million funding cut. Hillman/KSKA
Superintendent Ed Graff discusses budget amendments due to $16.7 million funding cut. Hillman/KSKA

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The Anchorage School District plans to cut 57 currently-filled positions next year because of a $16.7 million funding cut from the state legislature.

Superintendent Ed Graff presented the cuts to the media Thursday afternoon. They include 37 classroom teachers, 12 literacy coaches, and all of the pilot programs focused on early learning and updating science teaching tools.

Graff says they didn’t want to eliminate anything. “But when you get to this point of $17 million that you have to cut on top of the reductions that we already had to address the prior years, there’s no way around it. It’s going to have an impact on everything we do.” Especially students.

The school board must vote on the cuts on Monday even though the state’s budget has not been signed by the governor. They are required to inform tenured teachers about layoffs by May 15 and other staff by the end of the school year.

The revised budget also eliminates the 20 new positions the board added into next year’s budget to reinstate middle school elective teacher team planning time as well as three maintenance positions, supplies, and technology upgrades.

“So we’re going to have to reverse all of those things we planned for, and prepared for, and the students expected, and the community expected. We need to figure all of that out. We’re moving in the wrong direction.”

They will maintain the sports programs and instructional support for English Language Learners and Special Education.

ASD also plans to go forward with the school renovations funded by the recently approved school bonds, despite confusion over whether or not it will be partially reimbursed by the state. State Attorney General Craig Richards recently wrote a letter to the governor saying the bill passed by the legislature that ends school bond reimbursement is retroactive. That means no bonds passed after January 1, 2015 will be reimbursed even though the law doesn’t take effect until 90 days after it’s signed.

Graff says the district does not interpret the law that way and is still seeking reimbursement.