David Boyle: Anchorage School District says it can make do with $110 Base Student Allocation increase

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By DAVID BOYLE

The Anchorage School Board admitted this week that it can get through the next school year with a very small increase in the Base Student Allocation, also known as the BSA. 

This runs counter to the education industry’s cries to the Alaska Legislature that it needs a BSA increase of $1,413 just to keep its doors open.

The board figured out how much it would cost to keep all the previous programs it was going to do away with to balance the budget.  

This discussion was neither on the record in the board meeting nor in the budget documents.  

The amount the board arrived at was a minimal $110 BSA increase from the Legislature.  

The board then discussed adding programs and teachers back into the previous budget.  

During the discussion, Board Vice Chairman Carl Jacobs offered an amendment to next school year’s budget that added $8,781,000 for a total of $894,240,584. This would be a net decrease of $10,901,416 from last year’s budget.

Even though this is a decrease of about 1.2%, the district has lost 894 students since last school year — a more than 2% loss in students.

The vote was 7-0 in favor of the amendment to increase spending.

Here are the details for the increased spending:

• Reverse the proposed elimination of 10 holdback teacher full-time equivalent (FTE) at a cost of $1,237,737;
• Reverse the proposed elimination of 36.30 teacher FTE across the district at a cost of $4,548,839;
• Reverse the proposed elimination of 5 language immersion FTE, at a cost of $604,399; 
• Reverse the proposed elimination of 18 IGNITE FTE, at a cost of $2,204,016; 
• Ensure that the Pupil: Counselor metric is 300:1 or less at all eight comprehensive high schools by allocating an additional 1.5 net Counselor FTE across Chugiak, Service and South high schools, so that each would receive an additional 0.5 Counselor FTE, at a cost of $186,000.

Community members showed up in force to complain about the elimination of the gifted-student IGNITE program’s teachers.  Their shouts were heard, and the program was restored in the budget.

Sixty-nine teacher FTEs were not eliminated. These positions were budgeted at a total of $8,594,991. Note that these may be vacant, funded teacher positions that are never actually filled.

Only member Dave Donley offered to cut extraneous expenses that add nothing to classroom instruction. His amendments would have reduced the budget by about $10 million but the board would have nothing to do with that.

Donley offered an amendment that would decrease the funding of the Coalition for Education Equity, a nonprofit that lobbies for more money for rural schools.  The Anchorage taxpayer pays $30,000 per year to this nonprofit.  According to Donley, “The CEE does not support the best interests of the Anchorage taxpayer.”  Anchorage is the only one of the Big 5 school districts that funds the CEE.

The CEE opposes the formation of local governments in rural Alaska that would be required to levy local taxes to support their schools, opposes the number of students needed to qualify for a school, opposes the need for parental consent for getting personal information of students, and opposes ASD’s efforts to get a new district cost study that would benefit the ASD.  Donley’s motion got no second, so it died.

Donley also offered an amendment to cut the $44,000 that the district pays to the Council of Great City Schools. That group represents very large urban school districts whose values do not represent our school district. Member Pat Higgins seconded the motion. It failed 5-2.

Member Donley offered an amendment to reduce non-classroom administrative costs by $2.245 million. Member Kelly Lessens seconded the motion for discussion. The board refused to reduce these expenses by a vote of 6-1.

Donley also moved to defund the Alaska Association of School Boards because Anchorage is severely underrepresented. The AASB opposes the formation of local governments so they can tax and fund their schools. Board president Margo Bellamy is on the AASB board. This amendment also failed, due to no second.

Member Donley moved to cut the Office of Equity and Compliance, now called the Office of Community Engagement but there was no second to his motion, so it died.

So, the board says it is heading to a fiscal cliff while adding nearly $9 million of non-classroom spending to next year’s budget.

To balance the budget, the district is using $71.2 million from its piggy bank savings account.

The budget reveals that the district only needs a very minimal increase in the BSA so that it doesn’t have to cut its dues and fees to marginally helpful organizations. This is interesting because Anchorage has about 33% of the state’s student population.

The board will present its budget to the Anchorage Assembly, but it is, for now, an unbalanced budget.

It is betting on a “wing and a prayer” that the Legislature will at least increase the BSA by a minimum of $110, thus balancing its budget.

The final vote on the amended budget for next school year was 6-1, with Dave Donley voting “no.”

See a list of all the amendments here.

Wade through the ASD budget for next school year at this link.

David Boyle is the education writer for Must Read Alaska. 

21 COMMENTS

  1. Just say no to ANY increase.
    Fewer students, reduce the staffing appropriately.
    Rule with common sense, not nonsense.

  2. No more money. They are stealing our dividends as Jay Hammond rolls in his grave. I have ex Alaskans asking me what is going on. Greg Forkner need not respond. You do not live here and your opinion is nothing more than Suzane allowing him to troll this site. Not single dime more until the educators of Alaska actually do their JOB and educate. Until their is proof that performance of students is increasing. MRAK posted the article that proves our state education is in the top 5 of all states for funding. It is now on the educators to do their darn job.

  3. How did this school board end up with so many teacher’s union brain holes? Dave Donley is the only member with any common sense whatsoever.

  4. No more money to our schools, not one penny.
    You spend like drunken sailors, time to get down to the basics.
    .
    We already pay for incompetence, time for the schools to review their failures and do something about it.
    1. We have less enrollment all over the state, close and sell off the unused and unnexpcessary assets, we need the money. They havve been already all been identidied countless times, sell the asset.
    2. We do not need any DEI or CRT in our schools, defund those programs, remove these instructors/teachers/whatevers and stop purchasing (if the materials are not already free) or in any way dealing with these materials. Any DEI, CRT, or other inappropriate materials belong in the dumpster, time to clean house.
    3. Get down to the basics: focus on reading, writing, and math. We need our students to eventually join the work force, they should be able to read a job application and write in the answers. With a job there is a paycheck, they will need the math to deal with bills. Any staffing that does not directly support the basics is fluff and should be considered for removal/termination.
    4. If there are rainbows all over the classroom, fire the teacher, they have their own agenda and are not focused on teaching our children how to think, they want to teach them WHAT to think. Any staff that flys any flag but the American flag needs to go, your agenda is NOT welcome in our learning institutions, save that crap for your own friends and family, it is inappropriate in the workplace.
    5. Parents, citizens, vote these school board members, state and local elected officials, out as fast as you can, Dave Donley is the ONLY school board member fighting for We the people. These legislators that all approved this increase, lets get rid of them too. They only want to steal our money and abuse our kids with their hidden agendas.
    6. Stay informed, be a thorn in their side, know what is happening in your district and vote like it means something, cause it does. Go to the school meetings and ask questions.
    .
    We have every right to answers from our schools, our legislators and our educators. They work for us and right now, they are failing miserably. More money does not solve the issue. These folks have already proven that they are not financially responsible. Give them less….

  5. Let’s get real: education is an “industry.” Regarding pay, more is better. Remember the adage, greed is good! They will “make do” with what they’re getting and then come back for more.

  6. The teachers’ union grifters have been fleecing taxpayers for decades under the guise of “do it for the children”. A total scam, especially you don’t graduate half the students, and the you do push through the system have only learned about being a gay communist.

  7. We simply have to come to the realization that substandard education and unnecessary programs and cost come at a high price.

  8. Please support Kay Schuster and Chelsea Pohland for school board. They will help Dave Donley bring some much needed common sense to it.

  9. Mat-Su Valley is looking like a great alternative to living in the “Doom-Loop” of liberal infested Anchorage!

      • So you support porn for children.
        Can we assume you object to the removal of the Bible from schools?

        • Masked A-Man: Can we assume you are an agent of Biblical incest, rape, prostitution, etc?
          Banning books is a slippery slope…and always has unintended consequences.

          • It would seem as if the community should have the final say re putting books in a school library. Unfortunately, in many school districts the school board is merely a mirror image of the teachers’ unions. That is because those unions control election outcomes by electing board members at-large vs. by districts. If that is representative of a community, then maybe we should elect Assembly members and state legislators at-large.

  10. If you read balanced reporting the $110 increase is needed after burning through most of ASD’s $71 Million in reserves. Massive cuts are delayed one year without a significant increase in the BSA. ASD is betting that voters will throw out the Dunleavy moronic legisaltors this fall and properly fund education next year

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