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Anchorage (Alaska) board decides to close one elementary school

Dec. 23, 2022
Board rejects recommendation to deal with budget deficit by shuttering 6 elementary schools.

The Anchorage (Alaska) school board has voted to close an elementary to help alleviate a projected $48 million budget deficit for the coming fiscal year.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the board’s action was less severe than the administration’s initial recommendation to close six elementary schools.

Instead of closing six schools, the board agreed to the closure of just one school—Abbott Loop Elementary—as well as a mix of district savings and other cuts.

For months, district leaders have dealt with what had been projected to be a $68 million budget deficit — caused by a mix of inflation, a drop-off of federal pandemic funds and flat education funding from the state. After more recent calculations, that shortfall narrowed by $20 million to $48 million.

The closure of Abbott Loop is projected to save the district $974,000 per year for the first two years after it shutters.

District officials project that a decline in student enrollment will continue and more school closings will be necessary in the future.

In addition to the school closure, the board voted to pursue other strategies to eliminate the budget deficit. That includes using $28.34 million in one-time funds from district savings.

Members also voted to raise the pupil-to-teacher ratio by one student to save $7.1 million.

The board’s approved priorities and cuts only cover about $40 million of the deficit.

Jim Anderson, the district’s chief financial officer, said the administration will be looking for other ways to slim down the deficit as it drafts a budget in January.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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