Klatt Elementary students, staff fight for survival as ASD continues budget discussions

Klatt Elementary students, staff fight for survival as ASD continues budget discussions
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 8:58 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Wednesday night’s town hall meeting at Klatt Elementary School brought a crowd of parents, students and teachers out to voice their concerns over the possibility of their school closing.

It was the fourth of six scheduled town halls to allow the public a chance to voice their opinions on the Anchorage School District’s proposal to close six Anchorage elementary schools that would help close a $68 million budget deficit.

Emotions were running high from those who gave testimony. Many were upset, and some were visibly crying as the meeting pushed on.

District consultant Shannon Bingham and Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson began the meeting as they have the previous several times — starting with a brief presentation on why ASD is dealing with a budget shortfall.

The district said that if Klatt Elementary did close or was repurposed, the students north of Minnesota Drive/O’Malley Road would move to Campbell Elementary, while those south of Minnesota/O’Malley would move to Ocean View Elementary.

“Please, please reconsider your choice to close Klatt, to separate and divide our community,” a recently retired teacher at Klatt Elementary said.

The fight to save Klatt Elementary even saw a teacher from Ocean View Elementary stand up and speak in solidarity with those trying to fend off the closure.

“My heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with this,” the teacher said. “I can only begin to imagine how sad and frustrated and angry you all must be.”

Several young kids also spoke out against the potential school closing, including a pair of sisters who delivered testimony with a song.

Parents who testified said they believe closing the school is an inequitable decision.

“How? How are you going to support the middle school, how are you going to support the teachers of 20, 30 years? How?” one parent said. “What about these kids that are getting bused everywhere, except their neighborhood schools?”

Among the questions posed by parents and staff was why Klatt Elementary is on the list of potential closures when it sports a 92% occupancy rate, according to district numbers.

The next town hall is scheduled for Nov. 21 at Abbott Loop Elementary, and the sixth and final meeting will be on Nov. 22 at Wonder Park Elementary. Both meetings start at 6 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m.

A final decision by the Anchorage School Board is not expected until December.