Anchorage School District presents school board with a budget outlook for next year

Anchorage School District presents budget overview to the board of education.
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 9:08 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District provided the school board with its first look at the budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year on Monday.

The pro forma financial outlook forecasted a $67.09 million-dollar deficit for the district heading into next year to maintain the same services as FY 2021-22 before the allocation of federal funding.

School District Superintendent Deena Bishop said the deficit is related to the pandemic, and the use of federal one-time money to keep class sizes low.

“That’s what it is, one-time money. You spend it once and it’s gone,” Bishop said. “And we’ve done that to remain whole over the last few years given that, really, state funding hasn’t changed since 2017. ... Even though we have another influx of federal money, it’s not going to last forever, and just wanted to share with the board, and it’s going to look like sticker shock, but it’s something we’ve been sharing for two years.”

The financial outlook said the budget for 2022-23 was based on projected revenue of $839.111 million, a $2.2 million downturn from the 2021-22 approved budget.

The financial outlook presented to the school board said key considerations to close the budget gap is reducing staffing levels. The report noted personnel costs make up 86% of the general fund budget. It also pointed out the recent reliance on federal stimulus funds to continue operations.

“The discussions are going to be hard,” Bishop said about the upcoming conversations surrounding the district’s budget.

She added the district will need to look at ways to do things differently in the future to help keep class sizes low and pointed out cost-saving efforts they’ve implemented over the past five years, like closing two schools and combining programs.

The presentation of the district’s financial outlook is the first step towards finalizing a budget for next year. The next step is a balanced budget for the public to review in January and school board deliberation in February. Watch Monday night’s school board meeting here.

“Community feedback is always core,” Bishop said.

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