Gifted programs, health classes to see changes under proposed ASD budget

Published: Feb. 16, 2020 at 11:03 PM AKST
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The Anchorage School district needs to close an estimated $19.5 million deficit with their 2020/21 budget. The one proposed at

seeks to do that while also working within the guidelines set by the board.

“We had 3 priorities in mind when we went in,” said ASD’s Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson. “One was to protect core class size as much as possible, one was to preserve educational opportunities as resources allow, and three was to try and preserve jobs for our employees as much as possible.”

The budget tries to follow those guidelines and close the gap by restructuring two elementary school programs, and reducing a number of positions due to decreased enrollment.

The biggest change is the restructuring of the IGNITE gifted program. 22 IGNITE teaching positions will be replaced with 10 coaching positions. Those coaches won’t work directly with students, but will create materials to help gifted students during their “What I need” or WIN time.

The other big change is the elimination of elementary Health teacher positions. Health classes will instead be taught by PE teachers, nurses, and core classroom teachers, but that will reduce those teachers’ time to prepare, raising a different issue.

“The current contract we have with the teachers requires us to provide 240 minutes per week of planning periods,” Anderson said.

To bridge that gap, the budget proposes a late start or early release by an hour once a week, giving teachers that time to prepare, as well as work with other teachers and staff to develop curriculum.

The budget also reduces a number of teaching positions, but elementary school class sizes are expected to remain the same, while middle school and high school classes are expected to grow very slightly.

There are also slight increases in the compensation budgets for the school board and the Superintendent. Board members are seeing a slight raise, though that is not something they or the district have control over.

“The Salaries and Emoluments Commission of the Municipality controls all of our salaries,” said Alisha Hilde, the School Board’s Vice-President.

As for the Superintendent, there is a one-time payment of $15,001 listed on the budget, but Anderson says it's a contractual payment and not a pay raise.

"She has not received a pay raise in her four years as Superintendent," Hilde said.

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