Anchorage schools could lose millions due to enrollment drop

The Anchorage School District Education Center March 13, 2020. (Mayowa Aina/Alaska Public Media)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage School District’s finances could be significantly impacted by decreased enrollment after many families enrolled children in home schooling programs instead of neighborhood schools.

Chief Financial Officer Jim Anderson said the district’s enrollment is down by thousands of students this year after officials decided to start classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Anchorage Daily News reported Wednesday.

About $10 million will move from neighborhood schools to the district’s home school programs, while there could be a shortfall of about $14 million in state and local revenue, Anderson said.

There is also a potential $2 million shortfall in transportation revenue from the state to the district without school buses running, he said.

The district will save money on fuel, maintenance and workers compensation, but “certainly not enough to cover a $26 million shortfall,” he said.

The district’s financial situation will become clearer as enrollment numbers settle through September, Anderson said.

A report to the city’s school board by Superintendent Deena Bishop said current enrollment including neighborhood schools, charter schools and home schools is about 4,000 students less than last year.

Enrollment stood at 42,197 students as of Tuesday compared to 46,007 at the same time last year, a decrease of about 9%.

Another 1,000 students switched from neighborhood schools to the district’s home schools.

While those students are technically enrolled in the district, schools lose funding they would have otherwise received for those students, Anderson said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Previous articleAlaska News Nightly: Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Next article15 states sue to stop drilling plan for Arctic Refuge