Anchorage School Board votes to keep Abbott Loop on closure list and hears plan to make-up snow days

The school board held its last regular meeting of the year on Monday night
The Anchorage School Board voted Monday to keep Abbott Loop Elementary on the closure list, and heard about plans to make up recent snow days.
Published: Dec. 19, 2022 at 11:12 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School Board got to work Monday night on approving a plan to help fill a $48 million budget gap.

The board had already decided to spare five of the six elementary schools that were originally proposed for closure; many of those who testified, however, asked the board to spare Abbott Loop Elementary School as well. Some board members proposed waiting another year to consider closing the school, but the amendment failed.

Board members are looking to close the massive budget gap through a combination of cuts and spending, including taking more than $28 million from its fund balance savings account. Some people thanked the board for its efforts Monday.

“The process that ASD and the board’s gone through seems to have worked,” said David Northrup, who testified Monday evening. “We appreciate your listening, the thoughtful deliberation, and the countless hours that you’ve spent deliberating this budget crisis.”

Many more testifiers spoke about the stress that potential school closures have caused the community, including its students.

“Damage has already been done to six schools and their communities,” said Joel Potter, who also spoke Monday evening. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see a drop in enrollment at the schools, as parents are still uncertain about what will happen. Because of these missteps over the past two months, the district needs to rebuild trust.”

Another budget option includes putting sixth graders into middle schools. The district supports the option and talked about the benefits to students, but some questioned if removing sixth graders from elementary schools might negatively impact enrollment and cause more schools to close.

The board will pass the guidance on to the district so that it can begin work on the budget. A preliminary budget is expected to be released in January, with changes possible at that time.

At the meeting Monday, ASD Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt also announced a proposal for making up for five recent snow days, including adding 30 minutes to the instructional day from Jan. 30 to March 9. He also proposed making Feb. 22, 23 and 24 full instructional days. That plan would need to be approved by both the state and the school board before it could be implemented.