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Less Class Time? ASD Considering Adding Extra Periods To Fill Budget Gap

By Corey Allen-Young, Education Reporter, cyoung@ktuu.com
Published On: Jan 13 2014 07:42:17 PM AKST
Updated On: Jan 13 2014 09:54:09 PM AKST

By Reporter Corey Allen-Young.  (KTUU-TV)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

Putting everything on the table, the Anchorage School District is considering shortening class time as part of its plan to fill a $49 million dollar budget gap over the next two years. 

The Anchorage Education Association says next fall anywhere from 120 to 150 teachers will be gone from the classrooms. 

Because of that, in order to keep class sizes down, a new proposal would add an extra class to a student's schedule which would shorten the amount of time they spend in each class.

The teachers union says it will ultimately effect the quality of how students learn.

Whether its in music or in math, the goal for teachers in the Anchorage School District is to find that hook that inspires students to want to learn. 

"Art is a reason they come to school or being in the band is a reason they study math and science," said AEA president, Andy Holleman. 

But with budget cuts threatening to get rid of direct-instruction teachers, one idea on the table to fill that void and avoid crowded classrooms is to give teachers an extra class during the school day.

The teachers union says will it be a challenge for educators who will be expected to teach the same lessons with less time.

"At the end of the day if you feel like you delivered something that's not as good as it should have been, that's demoralizing," said Holleman, who says if an extra class is added, the average time per class could drop to anywhere from 45 to 48 minutes. 

"What goes away is that time in between which is sort of that sweet spot where you think education is really happening or where we are trying to make it happen every period of every day." 

Holleman says those are connections that on the middle school level have proven crucial in order for students to have future success. 

"Juvenile delinquency rates, drop out rates have gone down pretty remarkably," he said. "I think there is no doubt, if you take away teachers, you are going to take away options." 

Heidi Embley, the spokesperson for the Anchorage School District, said that with a $49 million budget deficit over the next two years, everything is on the table for consideration.

She went on to say that out of respect to ASD staff, no information on budget considerations will be released at this time in order to give us the opportunity to speak directly with affected staff before the budget proposal goes public. 

It's a push to save money and possibly time that could determine how much of both students will need to be successful.

ASD superintendent Ed Graff is expected to present the budget on January 21st.