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98 positions lost in Juneau schools since 2011

Posted: October 2, 2013 - 8:51pm  |  Updated: October 3, 2013 - 12:11am

The Juneau school district has lost nearly 100 positions in the last three years, according to a Legislative report released Wednesday. Just over 600 positions were lost in five of Alaska’s school districts. More than 160 of them were teachers.

The report, which was requested by Anchorage Representatives Les Gara and Harriet Drummond, details staffing and enrollment numbers in the Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kodiak and Matanuska-Susitna school districts since 2011; Alaska schools haven’t seen an increase in the Base Student Allocation since then.

The Anchorage School District lost 285 positions; 193 of those were teachers or teacher assistants. Kodiak Island Borough School District lost 58 positions; 36 were teachers. The Mat-Su Borough School District lost 114 positions; 65 were teachers.

Of the 98 positions lost in the Juneau Borough School District, 28.5 were teachers, five were nurses and 36 were aides, mostly from the special education program. The cut positions represent an 8 percent loss in staffing for the district.

Enrollment in Juneau schools has remained steady since 2011, however the district is bracing for a possible decrease in enrollment for the 2013-14 school year. The district projected 4,936 students would be enrolled for this school year. Preliminary numbers show only 4,848 students enrolled in the district, which may mean a loss of $665,747 in expected funding for the district.

David Means, director of administrative services for the Juneau School District, said tight funding over the last few years has forced the district to make difficult decisions. He said making cuts to the budget is more difficult each year.

“We’ve done the best we can to stay away from the classroom,” Means said. “We cut the fat out some time ago, now we’re cutting into the muscle.”

JUNEAU DELEGATION WEIGHS IN

“Every district had to cut teachers. Growing districts, shrinking ones – all of them. I’m disappointed it’s come to this point, but hey, maybe we’ll have the statewide support we need to increase funding next year.”

— Sen. Dennis Egan

“I’m very concerned about the reduction in teacher staffing around the state. I’ve been an advocate for small class sizes and getting more resources into the classroom. I’m part of a group of majority member legislators that believe very strongly that we need to increase the base student allocation.”

— Rep. Cathy Muñoz

“It’s really frustrating for us to be a rich state and not be funding education better. Why is our legislative culture not such that we fund education better?”

— Rep. Beth Kerrtula

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/canfieldjenn.

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