There are fewer kids enrolled at the Anchorage School District during the 2013-2014 school year, which means one effect will be fewer dollars in the budget. It’s not just a big city dilemma, but a statewide challenge.
The state distributes funding to public schools based on a formula called the Base Student Allocation, and several factors are considered, including the district's location, size and student make up.
According to projections, ASD would have received around $355 million with about $8,800 dollars per student. Officials say the actual count turned out short from its predicated count. As of September 30th, the official enrollment was 48,028 students, about 700 less than expected.
With fewer students going to ASD, officials say that comes out to a $6 million hit.
"There's not a lot of fat out there," said ASD chief academic officer Mike Graham.
The district says it will make adjustments, but after several years of budget cuts, it will be difficult to avoid affecting the classroom.
"There's not like extra money, pools of money sitting around, so when you are planning on this many dollars to be able to implement and use the programs that we have and you come up short, then you start looking at how are we going to get through this year," said Graham.
The BSA is different for each district. In the Mat-Su Borough, the state will distribute about $9,000 for each student. In Fairbanks, it’s around $10,000 per student.
For rural schools, the same challenge is being felt.
"We are not flushed with money in fact we are running at a little bit of a deficit right now," said Kim Langton, Yupiit superintendent in Western Alaska.
The district is down to about 430 students.
"We have to guess at what the numbers are going to be, we have to guess at what the dollars are going to be be and prepare for educationally based on a guess,” said Langton.
The superintendent says it's difficult to build a budget without knowing how many kids and dollars you are going to get.
Guesses about state dollars are putting districts in tough spots because the decisions it will make will impact student's learning one way or another.