Many speak out against potential school closures at Nunaka Valley Elementary

Many speak out against potential school closures at Nunaka Valley Elementary
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 10:36 AM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The approximately $68 million budget deficit the Anchorage School District is facing has created anxious times for both district leaders and parents who are facing the prospect of seeing their children’s school closed to save money.

Monday’s town hall meeting at Nunaka Valley Elementary School saw a packed gym with an overwhelming majority of those attending opposed to closing the school.

District consultant Shannon Bingham began the meeting by sharing part of why the school district may decide to close or consolidate up to six schools within the district. He said if Nunaka Valley Elementary did close, the students to the east of Boniface would move to Chester valley, and students to the west of Boniface would move to Russian jack with Nunaka then transformed into an early childhood center.

“This would be effective for this coming fall, for the fall of (2023), so in late August, early September — whenever school starts up — we’ll be implementing the change,” Bingham said.

As ASD tries to close a multimillion-dollar budget gap, students, parents, and teachers voiced their concerns for the families that would be impacted by the closure.

“I think that this is also a short-sighted solution to a larger budget problem that will only result in more problems and greater economic, social, and cultural costs in the future,” one former student said.

“This is a school that has heart, that has family, that has community support as you can see tonight,” one Nunaka Valley teacher said. “The people who work in this school are feeling grief, we’re just feeling like pawns in a big game.”

Many said they were concerned that schools recommended for closure are Title I schools, and in lower income neighborhoods. Others were confused about the millions of dollars of funding going toward rebuilding another Anchorage school, Inlet View Elementary.

ASD Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson said that re-purposing Nunaka Valley would only save above $300,000.

Bingham said increasing class sizes is the last resort the district is considering.

There are three more town hall meetings scheduled over the next month that will allow input on the district’s budget and possible school closures:

  • Nov. 16 at Klatt Elementary School
  • Nov. 21 at Abbott Loop Elementary School
  • Nov. 22 at Wonder Park Elementary School

A final decision isn’t expected until December. All meetings will start at 6 p.m.