Remember all the noise about funding the BSA? Remember the chants about having to fire teachers, up to 200 according to the Anchorage School District? Well, the Legislature gave public schools an increase in the Base Student Allocation of $150 this upcoming year and $50 for each of the next two years. Wouldn’t you think the District would spend the increased funding on putting teachers in the classroom like it said? Think again.
The Legislature gave the District an additional $31.8 million in additional funding over the next three years. And none of this funding was spent on saving teachers’ jobs. About $23.5 million is being spent on the start up of pilot programs, programs which are basically beta testing ideas and growing the District. This includes Early Literacy, Pre-Kindergarten, Teacher Training & Evaluation, Classroom Technology Upgrades, and STEM curriculum updates. One must note that the District basically thumbed its nose at the Legislature by spending the added State funding on areas which the legislators turned down. Here is a chart displaying where and how much the ASD spent of the added State funding:
As one can see, much of the added State funding goes to starting new programs (Pre-K) which didn’t get any traction in the legislative session. Another $6 million is allocated to the amorphous STEM curriculum update and the even more nebulous Classroom Technology Upgrade. The ASD has upgraded classroom technology such that every student and employee should have individual tablets-maybe not a bad idea if that is truly where the money is being directed. Trying to nail down spending on information technology is more difficult than nailing Jell-o to the wall.
The Municipality of Anchorage also increased its funding to the ASD by a total of $25.2 million over the next three years. For the next fiscal year, the District is provided another $8.3 million which is used to fund direct classroom teachers. There is an increase in 44 elementary, 30 middle school and 12 high school teachers. This is where the funds will have the most impact and what the District said it would do with added money. As an overview, here is a chart which shows the numbers of direct classroom teachers in the District:
Note in the above chart that less than half of the Full Time Equivalents (FTE) are in direct classroom instruction. More than 28% of the ASD personnel are not related to instruction. It is questionable if an enterprise with so much overhead can operate efficiently and effectively in the future unless it focuses more of its resources in the classroom.
The ASD may be spending the increased funds which the Legislature provided as it sees fit. But in doing so, it is losing credibility with the general public and the Legislature.
For the entire ASD budget document go here.