The Anchorage School Board on Tuesday unanimously passed a budget for next school year that cuts dozens of classroom teaching positions to partially close a $15.3 million budget gap.
The seven-member board voted on the budget after about 30 minutes of discussion at its evening meeting, leaving the document crafted by the district administration largely unchanged.
Assuming the state Legislature doesn't decrease or increase per-pupil state funding, the $563.6 million general fund budget for the 2017-18 school year results in the net loss of about 123 "full-time equivalent" positions, including 99 teachers, to save about $7.2 million total.
"This budget document is not as rosy as I would like it to be, but it's the circumstances that we are in — when you have flat revenue and increasing expenditures," said Anchorage School Board member Kathleen Plunkett. "We're not going to be able to do everything that I know we would all love to do."
As I think I have made abundantly clear over the years I am a huge advocate for spending on public education, so I find this very troubling.
When I graduated from high school, Alaska's schools were some of the best in the nation.
Since that time I have watched our schools suffer from budget deficits, diminishing support for our teachers, and of course the implementation of NCLB.
These budget cuts leave already overworked teachers with less support and even less of the time and resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
Ultimately all of this hurts the kids.
Trust me if these people REALLY believed that children were our future, public school teachers would be the LAST jobs they would look to cut from the budget.
You mark my words, the state income tax is coming.
It has been 37 years since Governor Hammond signed that bill back in 1980 to eliminate our state income tax but I think with the oil revenue drying up that the writing is on the wall.
And I have to say that if it helps to keep teachers on the job, I would have no problem paying a little more in taxes.