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Welcome to the Anchorage Education Association
Contact Your Legislator NOW
We were in good shape for a long time, but the Legislature has suddenly presented the possibility of such severe cuts to education that layoffs could be an option again.
It is time to contact your legislator NOW to say that education has been making cuts and reducing staff for years. We were cut in advance.
I urge you to talk to neighbors and relatives to get them to join in. Check the Great Alaska Schools Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Great-Alaska-Schools-Anchorage/463614410406133 for up to date info on what the Leg is doing and what the best response is.
At it's most recent meeting, the AEA Rep Council adopted the recommendations of the AEA Public Affairs Committee on Education (the PACE) and endorsed the following candidates in the Anchorage April election:
For Mayor, both Ethan Berkowitz and Andrew Halcro.
For School Board Seat E - Kathleen Plunkett
For School Board Seat F - Tam Agosti-Gisler
For School Board Seat G - Starr Marsett
Ideally we would like to make single endorsements in each race. For mayor there simply is no way to look past the longstanding support of both Ethan Berkowitz and Andrew Halcro. It has come in different ways and at different times but has been a cornerstone for both during their public and private work. Either would be a mayor that would work to enhance public schools as an integral part of making Anchorage a great city, with input and attention from those of us doing the work.
Tam Agosti-Gisler and Kathleen Plunkett are asking to be re-elected to the ASD Board. Both have been serving during tough economic times for the Board, but have always been listening and balancing the needs of the District against those of students and employees. The have been forthright in discussions with us and we think would continue to that going forward, and I urge members to support them both.
Starr Marsett has run for the Board before and has earned our support in the past. She has been involved with ASD for a long time and has done a lot of committee work. We feel certain she understands the fair balance between support for teachers and the work of ASD and would be fair and honest to deal with. In the sometimes complex elections of the school board, she has stepped back before to avoid splitting the pro-public education vote. This is the right time to get her on the Board
If you have questions about any of the AEA endorsements I'm glad to talk with members. Email me at Andy.Holleman@AnchorageEA.net
Anchorage Education Association
Governor Walker's Budget Proposal
There is a lot of concern about the cuts announced last night in Governor Walker's budget proposal. It would appear that the impact on ASD will be in the range of $12 million as stated, and of course, the legislature could make that number go up or down. We'll keep you posted as the projections change.
The budget for 2015-14 will be announced at Monday's ASD School Board meeting. Details about the impact will be know then. I know many of you have items you wish to testify about. That can happen at the 4 PM session (the Early Session) or at 6:30 (the Late Session). Testimony usually starts 15 to 30 minutes after the meeting starts.
You can testify telephonically, but that has to be arranged by the Friday before.
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 .