February 25th, 2018
In Sitka, students are writing on plain paper instead of composition books. In Nome, administrators are considering a shorter school year, which would give families more time for hunting and berry-picking while also saving money.
In Anchorage, the school district has opened its own clinic to try to slow its spiraling health costs. In the Mat-Su, district officials are exploring whether to build new facilities with borrowed money to help reduce the cost of a busing contract and building leases.
Around Alaska, school districts have approached the state’s fiscal crisis creatively, taking new steps to make each scarce dollar go farther and to keep from having to lay off teachers.
But even after those steps, they still face dwindling savings accounts and escalating health insurance costs that are making it more difficult to sustain existing class sizes and programs, administrators said. And they’re warning that a second straight year of flat state spending — without a boost for inflation — will force their cost-saving measures to increasingly target classroom teachers.