District Braces for $14 Million in Cuts

The Anchorage School District is about ready to roll out its final phase of budget cuts. Administrators need to cut $14 million more to reach the $25 million in cuts needed to balance the budget. Early rounds of cuts eliminated unfilled positions, but the new superintendent says the next phase will involve layoffs.

Superintendent Jim Browder says he won’t specify exactly which positions are on the chopping block until Thursday.

“What we’re gonna do is reduce instructional support,” Browder said. “There will not be any teachers in classrooms reduced.”

“They’ll be some certified people. Special Ed, in curriculum services, nurses are in that category. They’ll be a variety of positions.”

Image from the Anchorage School District
Image from the Anchorage School District

Browder became superintendent last July. The district needs to trim its budget by about $25 million. He says the shortfall is a combination of flat funding from the legislature and hefty benefits packages promised to employees.

“We try to do what’s right for our employees. The issue we’re facing is an issue in the United States. We’ve just come out of the worst financial condition in the United States of America since the great depression. We’re recovering, and when you recover there’s not money that flows as much as usual. Oil prices are down. There are a number of things, economically, that play into this. The reality is this: we need to tighten our belt and we’re gonna do it,” Browder said.

Browder will not yet say how many positions will be eliminated or from which departments. Budget documents are scheduled to come out Thursday and will be explained to the media during a press conference Friday. Browder says he and his staff will make a more detailed presentation on the cuts at school board meetings Jan. 24.

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Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.