Anchorage School Board Hears Public Testimony On Budget Cuts

Carol Comeau

The Anchorage School District has to cut millions of dollars from its budget. The last chance for the public to testify on the issue is Thursday.

“Hello, my name is Matteo Yoon. I attend Nunaka Valley Elementary and I’m in second grade … I hope you will reconsider that the library be open daily so that the students have daily access to the library.”

Second grader Yoon was one of the youngest to testify before the Anchorage School Board last week at the first of two public hearings. He was one of dozens who told the board why they shouldn’t cut programs at their schools. The Board is tasked with cutting around $19 million this year. Programs from libraries to special education to maintenance are on the chopping block.

Superintendent Carol Comeau is also considering increasing class size as a way to cut costs – something some members of the board are not keen on. Superintendent Comeau says school Board President Gretchen Guess recently asked her what she would cut if class size was not increased. In response Comeau made a list of possible additional cuts that equal 4.6 million dollars.

“4.6 million dollars is what the increase class size equates to. We spent most of last week going back through the entire budget really looking at what we’d already reviewed and really looking at where we could come up with another 4.6 million dollars in cuts to answer her question,” Comeau said.

The new list of cuts includes high school library aids, bussing and mentor programs and handful of other things. The board will finalize their budget after the final public hearing Thursday. Once the budget is set, they’ll be more adjustments if legislatures decides to increase the base student allocation, but that won’t be clear until the legislative session adjourns. The final chance for people to testify is 5pm Thursday at Anchorage School District Education Center.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.