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Welcome to the Anchorage Education Association
You may have seen the recent reports about ASD studying the possible consolidation of schools in an effort to save money. I know there's a lot of concern and I want members to understand where we're at. In addition to the Board meetings, I attend most ASD Board Committee meetings - notably the Budget & Audit, and Policy Committee. These meeting (open to the public) are much more conversational than the Board meetings, and you can get a better sense of where each Board member is coming from than you can at the full meetings.
The ASD Board realizes it has been in a cycle of severe cuts to staff for years now. The plans for the next 4 years by Governor Parnell are out and they do not show increases for education.
Using those numbers as a guide, the Board is trying to look at what can be done other than shrink staff each year.
At this point they are asking the Administration for numbers only, but to look at the places where the most money could be saved and make reasonably accurate estimates. The goal would be fewer buildings, but with more staff in the buildings.
Realize this - given the intended budget by Governor Parnell, ASD needs to eliminate over 700 positions in the next three years. This is the equivalent of 2 high schools, 2 middle schools, and a handful of elementary schools. Or shrink all the existing schools by that many staff members.
No matter how you do it, the ASD in the future is destined to look extremely different than it does today under that budget. I do think the Board is taking reasonable steps to shape the District in a way that delivers the best it can to students.
We would also want to remind all members that there is an election coming and that does have an impact. A governor and a legislature that placed a higher priority on education could change the direction of the budget. That picture still has many challenges - oil off the North Slope that sold for over $100 a barrel just a month ago is not in the low 80's. We urge ALL members to actively engage in the political process - be aware of who your representatives are and how they vote.
If you are unsure about who your reps are, please head to http://AEAPACE.net . There's a link that will get you all your basic stuff - who represents you in the state Senate and House. Where your polling location is, and who NEA-Alaska and AEA recommends for each district.
If you have specific questions, feel free to call the office at 274-0536 and ask to speak with me about our endorsements. They're based on our view how each candidate would treat education if they are elected, and we're happy to explain those choices to you.
I'm also happy to talk with members any time about actions by the ASD Board. My primary job is to represent you to them, and to the public.