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Welcome to the Anchorage Education Association
I know a lot of members were stunned by the ADN article Tuesday that after years of shortfalls and funding gaps, ASD is running a significant surplus. I also fully understand that for a lot of folks, the immediate reaction was frustration and anger, as the surplus is built on savings from reduced staff, or from position vacancies that ASD is having trouble filling. Those vacancies play out every day in our lives as reduced resources that have to be worked around and compensated for by additional effort. In addition, some folks wondered if all the displacements and layoffs of last spring really had to happen at all. Real people with names that had their professional lives terribly disrupted or their employment with ASD ended. This is money that could have been spent helping students.
There are a couple of things I would ask you to note. The ASD Board had to make decisions back in January based on projections. I can tell you the burden of the cuts impacted all the Board members on a personal level. While I don't agree with some of the specific choices they made, I don't believe they moved ahead knowing large pockets of money would appear. They made what they thought were the most prudent decisions, and then moved ahead continuing to try to shave costs in support areas.
This is almost a year later, and this also is a projection of where they think ASD will be in June, based on how things have progressed since July. It is not the case that ASD has $22 million sitting around right now.
And we could go on into the details about how it all came about and whether we should be here or not. And that's a fine thing to do, at some point. I'll save that for an afternoon I don't have much else to do.
The reality I care about right now is this: ASD is running under-budget. It has not been quietly re-directed or hidden from view. It has been announced to the public and the workforce, and there's a moment for everyone to stop and have a say about how these unused funds should be spent.
I know that I want to see the money used to relieve what has become an annual spring agony of departments being pared down, of principals trimming their staff, program-by-program, member by member. I want a whole year of class offerings not dropping. I want a whole year of class sizes not going up. I want a whole year of academic decisions being based on academic concerns and not financial ones. I want a spring without displacements. I want a fall without layoffs.
There are a number of ways this money might be spent. Not all of them hold the classroom harmless. We have an opportunity to participate in that decision and guide it, between now and mid-December. I urge members to talk with each other, talk to your Rep Council members, talk to me, and talk to your school board. Talk to your parents.
I would urge you to be part of this decision in a positive way, and I'd like to hear your feedback. Please email me at Andy.Holleman@AnchorageEA.net or look at our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AnchorageEA .