Anchorage School Board amends budget, moves charter school facility money to save teaching jobs

The Anchorage School Board passed an amended budget on Monday night for the 2015-16 school year. They voted to move $1 million from the Charter School Facility Fund into the budget to lessen the blow of potential legislative funding cuts and retain ten more teachers.

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In February, the school board passed a $784 million budget based on HB 278 – education funding promised by the legislature last year.

In April, the state legislature removed some of that promised funding. That meant the Anchorage School District needed to cut $16.7 million from their adopted budget.

On Monday night, the School Board had to use those not-yet-final state funding numbers to pass an amended budget for the 2015-2016 school year. They decided to soften the blow by moving $1 million from the Charter School Facility Fund created in December to retain ten teachers for kindergarten through second grade.

Board member Pat Higgins says it’s important to prioritize early literacy and send a message to teachers that they want to support them.

“By voting for this now, we’re letting people know that [there will be] ten less layoff notices for teachers, our priority is education – the teachers in the classroom. And we’re adding a little bit more stability to the process” of staffing for next year.

The Board had to pass the amended budget in order to start the staffing process and to send out pink slips to tenured teachers by May 15.

The newest incarnation of the budget does not include money for team planning time for middle school elective teachers nor for 20 new teachers for the whole district.

Anchorage Education Association President Andy Holleman says principals will find out how many teachers each school is allotted on Tuesday morning. They’ll have to decide which teachers they want to retain by Wednesday. Displaced teachers who want to stay with the district will be placed next week.

Some school board members are still hopeful the legislature will add some education funding back into the state budget.