ASD superintendent says conversation around school closures will continue this year

ASD Superintendent says conversation about school closures will continue this year
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 3:12 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 5:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage School District Superintendent Jharrett Bryantt took some Anchorage residents by surprise last fall when he recommended closing six Anchorage elementary schools.

In the end, only Abbott Loop Elementary actually closed, but Bryantt said there is a need to keep the conversation going.

“I don’t anticipate releasing names of schools in October like I did last year,” Bryantt said. “But when I zoom out and look at 10-year enrollment trends for ASD, we are serving thousands of fewer students.”

According to the district website, ASD currently has approximately 5,000 fewer students than were enrolled a decade ago. As a result, about 18 schools are currently operating at less than 65% capacity.

Bryantt said students at schools that are operating at less than capacity often don’t have access to the full range of services the district offers to bigger schools, which is a major reason he thinks consolidation is important. But he admits the initial plan to close six schools didn’t sit well with the public.

“I received a lot of great feedback from the community about how we could have improved the process, how we could have engaged the community better, and how there can be more transparency in how we select a school that’s up for closure,” he said.

Bryantt said the decision to close schools isn’t entirely up to him but will be in collaboration with the Anchorage School Board and the community. He said conversations about school closures will likely start sometime after February.