Anchorage School Board puts money into savings, Rilke Schule facility

The Anchorage School Board decided how to spend their unexpected fund balance during a lengthy Monday night meeting. Most will be saved to make up for next year’s anticipated deficit. Some charter schools will also get some help.

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The board is putting aside $17 million to soften the anticipated budget deficit for the 2015-2016 school year. ASD CFO Mark Foster said during a work session that this will mean the district should not have to lay off any teachers or instruction support staff next year. Superintendent Ed Graff told the board the money will help teacher and student morale so they can focus on the classroom.

“We are trying to make sure that we do what’s right by not having to go through this churning of staff and employees and decision-making unnecessarily.”

The board also narrowly voted in favor of advancing $2 million to the German-immersion charter school for building a new facility. Some board members questioned the merits of using a large chunk of money to help a small percentage of ASD students. Others wondered about the school’s financial transparency and the apparent opposition within the school community to the building project.

Senator Bettye Davis voted against giving Rilke Schule the money in this fiscal climate, though she does support the school.

“At this point I can’t see me even making a loan just to give this particular charter just to build a building when they can’t agree if they need it or not.”

The board set aside another $1 million for a charter school facility fund that will sunset in 2016.

That left nearly $4 million to use during the second semester of this year. The district will spend more money toward hiring teacher’s assistants, paying substitute teachers more, and providing summer school. They will also try to recruit more special ed teachers. Graff says these measures will help with classroom crowding.

Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at Read more about Anne here.

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