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With No Fat Left, ASD To Make Serious Cuts To Next Year's Budget

Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:48:58 PM AKST
Updated On: Nov 19 2013 09:55:15 AM AKST

By Reporter Corey Allen-Young and Photojournalist Shawn Wilson.  (KTUU-TV)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -

Ongoing budget issues will hit the Anchorage School District’s budget plan, and will possibly make the goal of improving student achievement even more difficult.

ASD’s plan is in danger of being derailed because of a budget gap of $49 million over the next two years.

Last year, officials were able to avoid direct cuts to the classroom, but they say with 606 positions slated to be cut, that won't be possible moving forward.  

"We have already ripped off the Band-Aid -- now we are picking at the scab," said Tam Agosti-Gisler, ASD board president.

The district says with no fat left to remove in the budget, every program is on the table to be cut. 

"Some of the programs that we are trying to do to improve our achievement, to improve the performance of our students are going to have to be analyzed and determined what we can actually do with the staff that we have," Agosti-Gisler said. "I don't feel that there is a true understanding of what the impact is going to be in the next two years and how this is going to affect all aspects of education." 

There are tough choices and the district wants the entire city to weigh in on them. 

As part of its budget community conversations, 363 people gave some of their opinions on what should be done. 

When asked what should be the primary role of education, 48 percent of those who showed up say it should be to prepare students to be successful in life.

When asked where the budget cuts should be made, 65 percent say cuts should be isolated to specific areas instead of even cuts across the board. 

When talking about the importance of class sizes, 81 percent of participants say it has great value.

Potential cuts are a big concern according to parent Caycee Reloza, who is also a teacher in the district at Chugach Optional School.

"We want children to be able to have the best,” Reloza said. “I think about how it might impact the class size; I think about if extracurricular are taken away; I think about what's going to be the students drive to keep those kids in school." 

ASD says no decisions have been made yet, in what's becoming a waiting game to see what programs and personnel will be on the chopping block.

The discussions of what should be cut will go on until January when the district releases its 2014-2015 budgets.

The board will vote in February on the final version, but ASD officials say they welcome continued dialogue from the community on what they like or don't like about its programs.

To give your thoughts, click here