Anchorage School District whittles budget deficit, but will likely look to your PFD to make up the difference



And just like that, the Anchorage School District was able to reduce the former $68 million deficit by $20 million. Now the deficit for the next year’s operations is only $48 million.

How were they able to do this?

  • – The mayor and the Assembly majority agreed to fund the School Resource Officers at $2.3 million.
  • – The school district has a credit of $2,543,477 due to a decrease in one-time payments to the teacher’s union which was supposed to be used to recruit for hard-to-fill positions.
  • – $2.2 million comes from attrition of personnel.
  • – The district has an increased student count, so it expects an additional $3.1 million from the State and the municipality.  This increase includes an additional 44 intensive needs students at $77,480 each. These intensive needs dollars are not earmarked for those specific students, however. They go into the general fund.
  • – Finally, the district uses $9 million of one-time federal Covid-19 money to reduce the deficit.

Here is the ASD chart showing the specific reductions in the fiscal gap:

Next year, the district also loses the “hold harmless” dollars it has received for the past three years. Those state dollars are given to the school district, which holds the district harmless for losing students. If a district loses more than 5% of its students, then it receives funding for 75% of those lost students in the following year. This decreases to 50% and then 25% over the next 2 years.

For the current school year, the district receives $6.44 million for the 722 students it no longer has. Despite the increase in student enrollment this year, the district still gets monies for students it previously lost.

The Anchorage School District spends about 86% of its general fund on salaries and benefits.  

Those salaries and benefits are projected to increase by $52.5 million (15.97%) in the next fiscal year, 2024.

Most of that cost increase is due to school board-approved union contracts.

The district also has access to several fund balances—leftover money.  It currently has a fund balance of $33.04 million above the State’s cap.

The district may use part of this fund balance, which is like a “rainy day” fund, to fill its budget gap this next fiscal year. It may also reduce the fund balance to a minimum 8% of expenditures level. That is $44.44 million extra money to use.

This would allow it to use $28.34 million to fill the budget gap as shown below.

The school board has dug this budget hole even deeper by using one-time federal Covid money to pay for recurring costs, in spite of being warned by the State to not do this.

The one-time money has been used to pay for 529 full-time equivalent positions at a cost of more than $60.7 million.

Here is the district’s chart showing these positions:

Whatever the school board decides, readers may recall that the State Department of Education and Early Development warned every district not to use one-time federal Covid money to pay for recurring costs.

Apparently, the Anchorage School Board either did not listen or did not heed the State’s advice.

Now it wants the State Legislature to pay for its choice to ignore the warning by increasing the per student funding—the Base Student Allocation. 

And the Legislature, in its current makeup, may look at your Permanent Fund dividend, which the governor has proposed to be set statutorily about $4,000, to pay for a poorly performing school district.

David Boyle is the education writer for Must Read Alaska.


  1. Thievery! Teacher’s unions looking to steal resident’s statutory PFDs for more LGBTQ nonsense in the public schools. Stop this abject theft, Dave Donley and Governor Dunleavy.

    • Teacher’s unions can’t steal anyone’s PFD. Thank you for playing let’s blame the teacher’s unions. The Alaska Legislature has failed repeatedly to address the financial problems in this state. It is long overdue to reinstate an income tax. Stop the wealthy from stealing the PFD!

      • AFF:
        You are just another thief. Go back and kiss the a$$ of your union boss. They pay off their favorite Communist legislator to ram a barb up Dunleavy during the session. We know how the game is played. Steal the legal PFD and give it to the commies in the teacher’s unions…… the name of education. LGBTQ. Climate crises. Make your union bosses rich off the backs of the residents of Alaska. Hopefully, Dunleavy crushes these POS. And I mean it!

      • AFF, this state’s fiscal imbalances and problems are NOT due to insufficient revenue (taxes), they are solely due to out of control spending, wildly unsustainable spending that is fostered by the financial ignorance and selfishness of short-sighted morons like you. Please move back to California, where you belong.

        • Hate to disappoint you but I’ve never lived in California. I understand that most of the citizens in Alaska are grifters who want everything for free, and to be handed yearly socialist checks! That’s why they support people like DJT, the ultimate grifter.

        • Not due right insufficient revenue??

          Tell that to the Alaskan money flowing out of state because we fail to enforce an appropriate price for OUR oil….

          Sheesh what nonsense

      • AFF, while I agree with you that this is not on the teachers union, you clearly miss the elephant in the room. Here is the ASD leadership and the school board admitting in so many words that they have taxpayer funds squirreled away in various accounts, collecting interest. Now if they would use these funds to replace a roof or add security upgrades to schools, not one person would be upset. However the reality is that EVERY TIME there is any sort of need, ASD creates another bond or goes asking for more to the state. Furthermore I would like to point out that despite reduced enrollment, administrative services numbers are going up and most other services are staying at the same level….why? If there are fewer students?
        So frankly next time the ASD goes begging to the state or the taxpayer, they should turn them down until they have fessed up to ALL the little pots of public money they hold on to instead of use as directed.

        • “administrative services numbers are going up and most other services are staying at the same level….why? If there are fewer students?”
          Because of the teacher’s unions that you agree are not part of the problem.

      • The ASD is the most incompetent, poorly run, thriving outfit in the state. How to fix it.
        1- stop electing commies
        2- Make Alaska a “right to work” state.
        3- encourage private, non-ASD schools.
        4- NEVER EVER give the government an income tax. Or any other tax for that matter. They already have too much money. And since it is not possible for them to ever have “enough” money there is no point in giving them anymore.

    • Whittle away ASD. Keep whittling until you show meaningful results to educate students. Meanwhile NO on school bonds. (In my dreams). Free breakfast and lunch on my dime? My parents worked hard to pay for mine. I had a wonderful education. Stop enabling generations of parasites and do your job to educate!

    • Tired of the endless boo hoo from the ASD. Suck it up! You whine for more of my tax dollars and you are not producing educated students. Get out of my wallet until you perform. NO on school bonds until you show meaningful results. Paying for Teamsters pension funds – get outta of here you baggers! Furious – you bet!

  2. I love it! maybe all these people who don’t vote and they stop getting a PFD and get a state income tax will wake up and start voting. But even I know that’s asking a lot. Democrats/liberals/Progressives/Independent voters this just sends a shiver down their leg knowing this will become reality. As they say only liberals know how to spend your money not you! Alaska working hard to become a state version of Detroit.

    • I totaly agree the non voters are going to say what happened. Maybe this will wake them up to the crooks running our finances.

    • Maybe it will wake up the orange RINO supporters to vote for true conservatives not puppets of outside interests.

      Lets get Alaska and Alaskans put first in priority of our so called representatives

  3. The State needs to tell them to go pound sand………………………….

    If they don’t, then i will volunteer 😉

    This is exactly why i am considering finding a new place to call home.

    • Please leave. And while you’re at it, let us all know where end up as I’m sure it will be a place where you pay neither a state income nor a state sales tax and still collect a modest dividend for having a heartbeat. Oh wait… Alaska’s the only place where such a proposition exists. Anyways, good riddance.

    • You have to do what you have to do. But also other places are fighting battles as kenai, palmer, fairbanks, and wasilla are in face to face fight with its democrat foes just to stay red.
      Eventually a person gets tired of running.
      We are either Elimelech or we are Boaz when one faces a struggle. Alaska
      greatest weakness is peoples transient nature, that they must feel they don’t really have anything at stake when they came for work and will settle elsewhere. A great place for inept and morally corrupt leaders to go unchecked when the vast majority have no loyalty to this place. You know, mister man, who suffers the greatest under inept leaders? Single Women, children, and those over 65.

    • And an unaffordable income tax on workers and retirees to pay for a $4000 PFD to every grifter who showed up here in the past year or so for a free handout for the wife and kids plus their benefits.

  4. I had too dig into the ASD budget document to find that this government monopoly will spend $900 Million in FY 22-23. Up to $212 Million will be funded by Anchorage taxpayers and $314 Million by the State of AK. So even thought the BSA is $5,930.00 – the actual cost per student is around $20,000.00
    With declining enrollment and a looming recession, it would be a great time to consolidate ASD functions and its physical plant. The physical properties are owned by the MOA and can be re-purposed for both social and economic needs. The board will need to continue slashing the scope of the ASD mission.
    Socialist institutions like ASD are commonly subject to “mission creep” and “administrative bloat”. Federal Covid grants have now exploded these faults while simultaneously undermining the overall economic health of the Country.
    In the end, though, it is the People that have allowed this insanity to continue.

    • And the student gets the crumbs and a lousy education but the admin staff gets a raise and Christmas bonus. Thank you city taxpayers.

  5. I love those ads Ive been hearing on the radio telling me a big PFD is bad for me, as if a bigger PFD will ruin my life, doomsday, fire and brimstone! WW3!!That’s like getting paid at work and your employer taking an extra large amount of it telling you its for your own good, get real.

  6. From that chart, there are 5 teachers per admin positions. 5 to 1. In what world does that make sense? Used to have about 10 folks at the district, plus one principal and one vice-principal and one school secretary for each school. Not 624. That’s where the money goes. Not to students, not to teachers even, but to admin. That is one fat cow.

  7. For an outstanding example of inept budgeting note that just last month this same group that is $68mm in the red also paid to bail out a union and all with money it didn’t have.


    During that colossal error they would have known that they would need to prey upon your PFD already, why not more so? This is planned theft, intended predation, and horrifically irresponsible. Budget w/ the money you have and no with money that belongs to someone else.

  8. If are students were learning what they’re supposed to, like the 3 R’s, we might have a more sympathetic view. But, we have wokeness and gender studies taking priority. Indoctrination can be expensive.

  9. PBS has an ad: “When in doubt, call BDO”!

    They are the “Here, hold my beer” of accounting.

    Forensic accounting. Anchorage office.

    GoMeFund and hire them to investigate.

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