School Board says Anchorage will have $95 million shortfall next year

57
2112

A massive school funding shortfall — perhaps the biggest ever for Anchorage — was the topic of a joint meeting held between the Anchorage Assembly and the School Board this week. The district’s elected leaders said schools will be short by $95 million in the next budget year.

The general fund school budget for fiscal year 2025 would be about $649 million to maintain some version of the status quo. But the total budget, including grants and federal passthroughs, is over $900 million. Projections are that the district will have about $554 million to work with.

The shortfall is reminiscent of 2021, when the district faced a $68 million funding gap in its $549.5 million general fund budget.

It’s reminiscent of 2020, when it announced it had $28 million budget shortfall for the 2021-22 school year.

It’s reminiscent of 2015, when the district had a $566 million operating budget and came up $23 million short of the funds the district reportedly needed.

In other words, the budget shortfall is an annual topic in Anchorage schools, where funding is never enough to meet the school board’s needs.

But while costs go up, students performance has gone down. And also going down is enrollment. The Anchorage School District has lost students steadily for decades. In 2002, approximately 50,000 were enrolled. This year the student count — still unofficial until October — is about 42,000, the lowest it has been since 1991. The school district has lost more than 14% in the past three decades.

The school board has so far taken no action to close any schools to consolidate, as the demographics change, however. In fact, it has about $30 million set aside in a pot to pay for repairs to Inlet View Elementary — money that could be used to plug the funding gap. There is also a huge stash of CARES Act money that has to be spent by Sept. 30, 2024, which could be used to plug the gap.

The school district also has numerous unfilled and arguably needed positions that it keeps on the books, and that artificially inflates the budget.

School Board President Margo Bellamy said inflation and inadequate state funding support are the primary reasons the district is in tough financial straits. She wants the base student allocation (BSA) formula increased.

Currently, the state provides a base amount of $5,900 per student, and the school board president says she needs another $1,200 per student. She did not acknowledge that in addition to the BSA funding, the state has regularly provided additional funding outside the formula except in 2016 and 2017. The base student allocation formula is an annual tug of war between union-run schools and the people who fund them.

Per-pupil spending in Alaska exceeds $19,000, with some estimates as high as $21,000. The U.S. average is $14,347, according to the U.S. Census.

State, local, and federal funding for K-12 education in Alaska is $2.9 billion for 115,000 of students in average daily attendance. Of course, 21,000 of those students are in correspondence programs, and those students get only state funding, and no local or federal dollars. The total per student actually attending brick-and-mortar schools in Alaska is about $28,000 per student.

Inflation has affected all government budgets, as well as the household budgets of taxpayers. Since 1990, the U.S. dollar had an average inflation rate of 2.57% per year between, for a cumulative price increase of 125.42%. Today’s prices are 2.25 times as high as average prices since 1991, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index.

Next door in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, there are 19,319 students, closing in on half the number attending in Anchorage. Mat-Su has 47 school locations, compared to the 97 school locations in Anchorage. While its budget of $266 million is adequate to meet expenses this year, it anticipates a shortfall of $10.8 million in 2025, due to rising costs, such as health insurance going up 8% per year, salaries increasing, and utilities costing more.

Although Mat-Su schools are absorbing students whose parents are fleeing the Anchorage School District, the district has no current budget shortfall, and its upcoming expected shortfall is still a fraction of the Anchorage School District’s budget gap.

57 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a bit of humor here. Most of the people in charge of Anchorage’s schools have supported local, state, and federal politicians and their associated collectivist policies that have resulted in our sad economic state of affairs. Now they come – not even hat in hand – demanding that even more tax monies be poured into their failed efforts. It’s a damn shame …..

  2. One of the biggest lies yet from the ASD… They have a slush fund stashed away somewhere for every school. They’ve must have forgotten they took our PFD and with less students, so they’re hiding it somewhere. In another few months, they’ll come up finding it hidden away somewhere with enough to pay for their wanted items. Before Covid, they always whined about not having enough, and after a few months they “found” it somewhere hidden.

      • Respectfully disagree. PFD theft was done by all 3 branches of government – Bill Walker as governor, the subsequent legislative majorities, all elected, and the judiciary via the Alaska Supremes. Cheers –

  3. SHOCKED! SHOCKED I tell you! I’m shocked that the ASD School Board & Assembly waited until the first full month of the school year to demand more money. All the solutions are in the article, consolidate schools, close open positions that are artificially eating funds, live within your bloated budget. And get the pro-union school board replaced!

  4. It;s the same sob story over and over again. Spoiler alert: They’ll need even more money next year. And probably graduate even less students.

  5. They have a fiscal management problem. Talking about closing schools while trying to spend almost 40 million for inlet view. Gross mismanagement. Consolidate some schools, keep the teachers you need and eliminate some administration

    • To paraphrase Einstein, there are three things that are infinite: the universe, human stupidity, and the insatiable financial demands of the Anchorage School District. And he wasn’t sure about the universe.

  6. Such a scam ASD is ! Nothing they do is effective in raising grades . Poorly managed and it’s been a trend for quite some time. Get rid of progressive liberals and efficiency along with learning will rise !

  7. We can certainly cut back on the amount we spend on the homeless and focus on our children instead.
    Perhaps, a good education will prevent them from becoming homeless later in life. Solve two problems with one move.

  8. Look between the proverbial couch cushions and plug the “gap” with that money. “There is also a huge stash of CARES Act money that has to be spent by Sept. 30, 2024, which could be used to plug the gap. The school district also has numerous unfilled and arguably needed positions that it keeps on the books, and that artificially inflates the budget.”

    You have the huge stash of money from CARES Act that has not been spent as well as our property tax money. Go somewhere else for your money.

    • It’s always the Washington Monument approach with bureaucracies. If they have budget problems they cut the most vital things that will make taxpayers squeal the loudest while they keep all the self-serving feather-nesting items sacrosanct and off the chopping block.

  9. Well let’s start the cuts with 90% of the admin staff getting fired. Then let’s get rid of excess principles and finally o ten year for teacher protection. I could balance this bloated buget.

  10. May I suggest they learn to live within their means, and stop spending so much time and money on BS that has nothing to do with teaching children what they need to succeed in society? Oh, silly me.

  11. ASD is pathetic.
    The solution is to pull more students away from the dirty hands of the handlers.
    Too many people without children are allowed to vote for these pathetic clowns on the school board that insist on hiring an idiot from a failed school district in Texas and pay him a monsterous salary and do exactly the same in Anchorage. Moving expenses and all.
    The only other way to unvote the clowns is to simply choose a school outside of ASD( for those who can afford it).
    That will not only force the “budgeteers” to operate within their available funding but will also give parents and chidren an opportunity to have an education with real results.
    Once again I urge parents with teens struggling at the hands of the incompetent ASD to get your teens ages 16-18 enrolled in Alaska Military Youth Academy.
    AMYA is an opportunity of a LIFETIME for all students amd not just for the ones struggling.
    Those who choose that option at absolutely no cost to the parent or guardian will receive the best educational experience they will ever expect to see in Alaskaand nationwide for that matter.
    Real educators who care about the success of all youth, not just the priviledged.
    They will graduate with an acceptance into many of the local trade unions with an opportunity to become a skilled trademan or tradeswoman for that matter. I know teen girls who moved on into a successful skilled trade.
    They will receive many more required credits in 1/3 of the time it takes at public schools to get caught up with their age group or even graduate high school early and join the workforce.
    I sent two sons there and they have both thanked me graciously ever since.
    They were apprehensive at first from the shock wave of reality from ASD lackluster but soon were onboard from the amazing experience of learning real life skills from the best teachers they had ever had.
    In my opinion every child needs it before being released from high school.

  12. A correction on Inlet View. The money is for tearing down and building a new school. It’s still short almost 15 mil.

  13. This is standard operating procedure, happens every year.
    The ASD board members preemptively whine about the money they supposedly do NOT have, even though they have total control over their own budget and could most likely easily cut a bunch of “feel good accomplish nothing” classes and positions. Clearly Utopia isn’t coming to pass with their current funding, so the taxpayer needs to chip in more, they demand. That the kids can’t read or do math isn’t important as the ASD board perceives their mission to remake society in THEIR image. Educated citizens just get in the way of that.
    What the board will not acknowledge is the “lack of state funding” is of their own making by driving parents away to seek better outcomes for their children. Now they no longer get funds for that child, which is probably why they eliminated the charter school to get those kids back under their complete umbrella and control.
    Vote “NO” on every ASD bond

  14. How many accountants do you reckon ASD employs? And to consistently find themselves in last minute huge shortfalls. Maybe too many working from home staying stoned. The solution is more bonds. It’s for the children.

  15. I have 4 boys and I could care less about any public school and their “budget” issues. My boys are 2-3 grades ahead of public schoolers. Teacher unions and public schools are one of the biggest jokes in this country right now

    • Just as long as you and the sons mother are teaching the boys how they will work around even supervise over a team where their co workers are not as smart as them and have lower work development skills. They’ll need the Lord’s patience, compassion, thoughtfulness, humility, and servant attitude if your boys need to do more work while they teach and equip their public school soon to be adult peers how to do the job better and more efficient and how to team work. Cause what not is happening in homes and school affects us All of all ages.

  16. Some families left because the PFD is being robbed, Bidenomics has decimated our economy & jobs, and people are tired of the high property taxes in Anchorage.

    Perhaps ASD should consider reducing administrative costs, as has been discussed for decades now.

  17. So let me see if I have this right:
    The legislature stole half of our PFD so they could increase the BSA.
    After an increased BSA, ASD still has its largest budget shortfall in history.
    Record low enrollment.
    As a matter of policy, schools are prohibited from informing parents when a child changes their own name and pronouns.
    And the school board can keep a straight face when they look us in the eye and tell us they need more money?

    Do Alaskans vote? Or is the voting populace still too stupid to realize they need to clean house?

  18. Easy solution, so there are 14% fewer students than there used to be according to the ASD count. So, take the budget amount from last year and subtract 14%. Or maybe use the same system used to evaluate the students and budget according to national rankings. It has always seemed strange to me that every time a teacher is on any radio talk show we hear about how wonderful the teachers are and it’s not their fault that the students can’t read or count to 10. And it’s up to the parents to teach the basics. Every year it seems that the teachers want more money. In any other occupation if you fail as drastically as the ASD has been doing you should look for another job.

  19. SO why did ASD hire 2 new pr hacks from the city recently?

    ASD= Money for image, money for administrators, not so much for stuudents

  20. Hmmm…I have a solution.

    Cut the bloated ASD budget by said 95 million dollars so as to balance their budget.

    Cut all positions that do not teach the basic tenets of education, that is reading, writing, mathematics, civics, and critical thinking skills.

    Also, cut at least 75% of administrative staff, thus overseeing staff, that have no actual bearing unto the honest education of students.

    Only spend monies upon utilitarian buildings that actually promote the basic education of students, rather than the palatial artistic buildings that cost so much but do so little, within actual remonstrative education.

    That they claim such a deficit of wealth, all the while demonstrating their complete lack of success within their resultant educational aspirations, is within the whole, the greatest definition of irony that the world has ever known.

  21. The complaining of the shortfall is not for the general public. This is directed at the state government. The libs know that the state legislators will always give them the extra money. Granted this year it was only half of what they want but they know that the State will have to come to their aid with a shortfall this large. The school district will then say they have to get rid of sports, all extra activities and then shut down certain schools. The howling from the public will force the state to give more money.

    The school board knew this shortage was coming which was why they did not cut any money this year. A small shortage and the school district would have to absorb it, a large one like this will get them state aid.

  22. This is what you get when the Rong Party keeps funding religious fanatic schools and bashing public education.

    • Huh??
      Please elaborate exactly which religious schools “the party” funds?? I believe the Blaine amendment is still in force (even though it was ruled unconstitutional if memory serves). Considering AK students rank 49th or 50th in national standardized tests “bashing” public education seems appropriate, as it indicates their failure in the very task they are charged to perform for the public funds spent.

    • Huh? What religious fanatic schools are getting funding? ASD has done everything they can to kill religion in the schools, are you mentally deranged? Confused? Misinformed? All of the above?

  23. In any other industry, even one with a strong union presence, the business would already be furloughing employees. ASD has had shrinking enrollment for YEARs. And Covid, as well as the piss-poor performance of our schools and children which demonstrated how bad things actually are, showed parents they could homeschool and achieve better results.

    This is the problem with public sector unions. They would rather harm your kid than furlough a teacher. So the question is this:

    Is the school district there for the kids? Or are the kids there for the school?

    Time to right-size ASD mr administrator. Start with staff. ASD has more non-teachers than almost any other school district in the country. Then close the schools that are underenrolled, keep the best teachers, and furlough the rest.

  24. I saw the problem without even reading the rest of the article when I read, “…was the topic of a joint meeting held between the Anchorage Assembly and the School Board this week.” Anchorage Assembly and the School Board are two of the largest, crooked groups in the MOA. If they get more money, where would that money go?
    What a joke these two groups are and they are destroying Anchorage.

    • More elementary-jr highchildren should be interested learning a craft and developing a talent to make products adults actually admire and want to buy. I know the employees at the Loussac library are bad, however there still a lot of good non fictional books in youth and adult section that’ll teach a child how to knit, crochet, woodwork, beadwork, sew, make jewelry, make model airplanes, and make ornaments and home knic- knack crafts, and make candles and soaps, and fancy style baking.

  25. Next year is a presidential election year and be interesting to watch how the Senate and House Finance committees find 96 million dollars for their sinking school district. Cause significantly cutting the PFD again during an election year won’t fly well across voters

  26. The MRAK anonymous trolls believe funding PFD welfare checks is more important than funding education called for in the State Constitution

    • Oh “frank”.

      YOU are an “MRAK anonymous troll” as well.

      In fact, you are the very epitome of such — particularly in your consistently cowardly evasion of responding to all those posts that counter and refute your pathetic own.

      • Considering the pathetic state of our public schools, damn right I favor a full PFD over “education”
        funding.

        Parents can use that money to find alternatives to public school.

    • Oh “Frank”…

      Are you paid to take these positions?

      STILL waiting for you to prove who you are, you macho butch thing you. Lead by example.

    • Well “Frank” for decades the PFD and school funding co-existed just fine and our kids actually got an education. Stealing from Alaskans to give added support to a system that does NOT meet the standard is counterproductive.
      BTW you need to work on your vocabulary:
      Welfare: government financial aid to indigent individuals to meet basic needs
      Dividend: a share of profits earned by holder of shares, commensurate with number of share owned.

    • Frank you are a prime example of what BS the school district is pushing. Go back to your safe place and stay like a good puppet.

      • Fronk, don’t be a tory – an order taker like O’bama. Do you wish to be submissive to tyrants? Do you desire to be in subjection by force and be spurned at the foot of the throne? The battle goes to the vigilant, the active and the brave. People have a right to be secure in their morals.

    • The PFD is not a welfare check dummy! It’s our share! I don’t know you don’t understand this. If you don’t want it don’t apply for it…it’s really simple. The bottom line is that the PFD was raided to pay for state government an lo these many years later the government t still can’t stay within a budget….maybe it’s too complicated for you to understand.

    • I believe funding education is important.
      What isn’t important is funding homeless care, funding LGBTQWERTY+ studies and events, funding elective medical care for irresponsible people, etc… etc… All of which seem to take priority by the Anchorage Assembly over education.
      Seriously, why does the Anchorage Health Department fund radio and TV ads telling people to plug in at 20°?
      Or why is the ASD sponsoring community events? Why did I hear the fishing report is sponsored by ASD more than once this summer?
      .
      I would be perfectly willing to see my PFD reduced in favor of education, if in fact the Muni was not wasting millions on stuff that does not benefit the city.

  27. Decent parents with school age children are rapidly finding alternatives, and those who haven’t are working on it. The Valley is growing at unprecedented rates because of this and other negative things that surround Anchorage. Soon enough, Anchorage will become the Utopia for the woke, nonworking class. Bail out while you can still sell your house, and your children will benefit.

  28. “I am quitting/resigning/leaving/guilty/sorry”.
    .
    Could these be the only words worth hearing from egregiously corrupt child groomers who are the face of Anchorage School Board?
    .
    Might the reported $95M “shortfall” be a lie because ASD officials pay lobbyist Jim Anderson of Legislative Consultants LLC $50,000 annually to make damned sure “…All issues, legislation, and funding related to school districts, including: formula funding, transportation funding, school bond debt reimbursement, Pre-K funding, school construction, testing etc.” turn out well for them?
    (from “Alaska Lobbyist Directory 2023” -Alaska Public Offices Commission)
    .
    Might the $95M “shortfall” have been caused by the same ASD officials who voted unanimously to create a construction monopoly called a “Community Work Agreement”, controlled by labor unions, limiting competition on construction projects over $1M to those companies hiring union labor… which probably worked pretty well until ASD officials found themselves a bit short of cash? (mustreadalaska.com/anchorage-school-board-votes-for-construction-monopoly-by-labor-unions/)
    .
    In other words, might the $95M “shortfall” have been caused by the same ASD officials who voted unanimously to engage –under color of law– in collusion, extortion, bid rigging, intentional discrimination against minority-owned non-union contractors, fraud against taxpayers, while operating a federally funded enterprise affecting interstate commerce?
    .
    No worries, the egregiously corrupt child groomers who are Anchorage School Board will get what they want. Expect the Peoples Assembly to come to their rescue with ballot proposals for a ten or twelve percent sales tax, maybe a ten percent surtax on real-estate sale proceeds over a couple hundred K.
    .
    Now for the really big question: Eaglexit sponsors, what exactly are you doing to assure this festering pustulence -never- infects Chugach Regional Borough?

Comments are closed.