220 Anchorage teachers receive layoff notices

220 teachers in the Anchorage School District on Wednesday received layoff notices.

The pink slips were issued as legislators contend with a $2.5 billion budget deficit, leaving education funding levels for the coming year uncertain.

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Todd Hess, ASD’s chief human resources officer, said the mood around the district Wednesday was somber.

“We’ve got 200 families out there that have been impacted. And what are they going to do? And how are they going to make ends meet in another month?” Hess said. “Those are all front and center in those families and those discussions, and their friends and colleagues are feeling that.”

Around 100 of those layoff notices were issued to first-year teachers.

Five tenured teachers were also notified of their impending lay-off earlier this in May.

Hess said ASD did not release teachers who work in hard-to-fill categories, like special education.

ASD has to hire more than 250 teachers each year to make up for those who leave the district.

Hess said the layoff notices will have a ripple effect on filling those positions in the future.

“Trying to convince people that Anchorage should be their top choice is a tough enough job as it is, let alone adding another layer of uncertainty with whether or not they’re going to have a job,” Hess said.

While the district has issued 220 layoff notices, the number of teachers without a job come next school year could be less, depending on the cuts handed down by the legislature.

If next year’s funding levels are consistent with this year’s, it’s possible all of those positions could be restored. However, Hess said that doesn’t mean pink-slipped teachers are going to wait and see.

“What would you do in your own personal interests and the interests of your family?” Hess said. “Would you sit at home waiting for a letter that may or may not come? Or would you be out, actively looking in other areas for different employment.”

The Anchorage School Board already eliminated 90 teaching positions in the budget process for the coming year, which the district was able to make up for through attrition.

Lawmakers in the senate are proposing an approximately $65 million cut to education, while the house wants a slight increase.

Josh is the Statewide Morning News Reporter/Producer for Alaska Public Media | jedge (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8455 | About Josh

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