Education Department wants to close Alyeska correspondence school

48 teachers, support staff could be laid off

Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2003

The state Education Department proposes closing its Juneau-based statewide correspondence school, Alyeska Central School, in late June in an effort to save $1.2 million in spending.

Some 26 teachers and 22 support staff would lose their jobs if the school closes.

Acting Education Commissioner Karen Rehfeld said many school districts offer correspondence and distance learning programs and the state can no longer afford to duplicate those services.

If the Legislature goes along with the proposal, Rehfeld said the 1,100 students enrolled in Alyeska Central will have a number of options. A dozen correspondence schools are operated by local districts in addition to 15 charter schools, she said.

Many Alyeska Central students also can enroll in their local district since just 45 Alyeska students live in areas so remote they don't have access to a local school district, Rehfeld said.

Education Department spokesman Harry Gamble said the proposal will require legislative approval because state law requires the department to offer a centralized correspondence school.

Gov. Frank Murkowski's spokesman, John Manly, said the closure is part of the governor's proposed budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.

Murkowski will present his budget to a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday.

Alyeska's annual budget is $5.5 million. Some of those dollars will follow Alyeska students as they transfer to school district programs, Rehfeld said.

Gamble said the department expects to save at least the $1.2 million by shutting down its summer school program.

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