Alaska Schools Approaching 1,000 Educator Cuts Since 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 6, 2014
JUNEAU – Today, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) released a report showing that, in order to avoid cutting educators a fourth year in a row, Alaska’s six largest school districts need an increase of roughly four times more per-pupil funding next year than the Governor has proposed.
“As someone who grew up in foster care, I know strong schools give everyone, rich and poor, opportunity. Cutting teachers, career counselors, and other educators damages opportunity, and harms our goal of developing a well-educated workforce,” Rep. Gara said.
The Governor has not increased per-student funding since 2011. A report from Legislative Research Services shows that the six largest school districts in Alaska need an average of a $314 increase in per-pupil funding from the state, known as the Base Student Allocation (BSA), to avoid laying off teachers and other staff for a fourth year in a row. Responses from the Anchorage, Fairbanks North Star Borough, Juneau, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Kodiak Island Borough, and Matanuska Susitna Borough school districts ranged from a $245 increase required by Mat-Su to over $400 required by Juneau to avoid continued cuts this coming school year.
“In the last few years in Juneau, we’ve seen class sizes grow, too many valuable educators forced out of the classroom, and a significant reduction in student counseling services due to budget cuts,” said Representative Sam Kito III (D-Juneau). “Our schools have found ways to do more with less, but now their ability to squeeze more success out of insufficient budgets is at its limit. There’s no replacement for good teachers and small class sizes. We need to make a lasting commitment to Alaska’s public schools, and that means giving them the resources they can count on year after year. That’s why the BSA is so important. It’s what schools can count on from one year to the next so they can plan for success not fret about more painful cuts.”
In order to reverse past teacher and staff cuts, and to prevent them in the future, House and Senate Democratic legislators proposed a $404 increase (SB147, HB331) to the BSA this year with an automatic adjustment in each subsequent year to account for inflation. House Democrats have voted to stop these cuts since they started in 2011.
The Governor’s proposal would only avoid roughly 80 of the anticipated 350 educator cuts for this coming school year. The Governor’s proposed staff cuts would be added to the loss of over 600 educators since 2011. See report here.