UPDATE: School Board votes against resolution that would have taken a stance on statewide education funding cuts
The Anchorage School Board voted against a resolution that would have put the board on record against the governor's budget plan, despite recommendations from the local teachers union.
"I urge you to send a strong message to the governor by voting unanimously to pass this resolution," Anchorage Education Association President Tom Klaameyer said to the board. "It doesn't take a deep dive into the proposal to see that public education is not valued."
The board shot the resolution down with three in favor and four against. The Anchorage School District continues its waiting game to see how the State Legislature handles their response to the governor's budget.
Rep. Harriet Drummond, (D) - AK, responded to the board's resolution assuring they would get their funding. Drummond said the 2018 legislature agreed to give state aid to public schools, fully funded through the
"Unless there is a bill to reduce that funding that is approved by both houses of the legislature, that funding is secure," Drummond said. "The formula funding is what pays for teaching staff and impacts class size."
According to ASD, they would have to lay-off approximately 800 teachers by May 22nd if the budget passes as-is, which would lead to a district-wide average increase of 10 students per classroom. Board President Starr Marsett says ASD is working with the legislature to ensure that doesn't happen.
"I know they're (the House) talking to the Senate now," Marsett said. "That would be great because that would afford us a budget that we would know what it is, and we can move forward and can staff how we need to."
Despite Monday's "no" vote on the resolution against Gov. Dunleavy's proposed budget, Marsett says the school district is concerned about losing teachers to recruiting schools from the lower 48, because they can't promise they'll have a job.
The Anchorage School Board will take up a vote at its regular meeting Monday night calling upon the Alaska State Legislature to address
The resolution, authored by Chair of the Communications Committee Deena Mitchell, outlines key areas of uncertainty that the Anchorage School District says would be byproducts of the proposed budget:
- Disruptions to student learning, communities, and families,
- Adverse effects on current and future students,
- Uncertain impacts on teacher retention and recruitment,
- Loss of teaching positions and increased class sizes, and more.
“The Anchorage School Board opposes reductions in educational funding and calls on the Alaska Legislature to stand up for Alaska’s children today and in the future by crafting a budget that reflects Alaska’s core value of educating students,” the resolution reads.
Rep. Harriet Drummond, co-chair of the House Education Committee, which oversees the budget for the Department of Education and Early Development, says the committee did not accept any of the Governor's proposed cuts to preschool and other early learning programs, nor did it accept proposed cuts to school broadband and library services.
Gov. Dunleavy has said in the past that his administration proposed a balanced budget for fiscal year 2020, and it's now up to the State Legislature to bring its ideas to the budgetary discussion table.
The School Board meeting starts at 7 p.m. at ASD Headquarters and will be open to public testimony.