Anchorage School District gives layoff notices to 55 employees

35 teachers, 20 support staff fall prey to "budget restraints."

Anchorage Daily NewsMay 15, 2012 

The Anchorage School District is handing layoff notices to 35 teachers and 20 support staff members, the administration announced Tuesday.

Teachers got theirs this week, and some staff members got theirs earlier.

The layoffs are due to "budget restraints" for next school year, the district news release said.

The 2011-2012 budget is about $6.2 million less than for this school year.

The district will have about $10 million additional from the state budget that Gov. Sean Parnell approved this week and other sources, but almost all of it is one-time funding, said district chief financial officer Chad Stiteler.

The School Board will discuss the situation at its May 21 work session and meeting, and decide what to do at its June 11 meeting, said board president Gretchen Guess.

"We won't have enough ongoing funds to reinstate all the teachers," Guess said. "If funding remains flat, we will face similar cuts in the future."

"The district had its hands tied,' said teacher's union president Jim Lepley. "The state didn't add any funding to the base student allocation."

The layoff notices went to non-tenured teachers mostly at the middle and high school level, where class sizes are being increased. Teachers are tenured after three years.

In addition, more than 135 teachers were moved to different teaching jobs within the district, the district reported.

The non-teaching jobs lost include seven administrative, technical and professional positions, 12 clerical and support positions, and one maintenance position.

"This is a very sad time because we are potentially losing some incredible educators and staff who have given valued service to our students and our school district," said Superintendent Carol Comeau in a written statement. "I am hopeful that over the next few months some of the people will be able to be recalled into a position."

Lepley said typically 30-50 teachers resign over the summer. And their union contract calls for laid-off teachers to be on a recall list for three years, so there's hope for some of them, Lepley said.

The last time the district pink-slipped sizeable numbers of employes was in 2003, when 177 received layoff notices, said district spokeswoman Heidi Embley. Those notices were all rescinded when then-Gov. Frank Murkowski signed the state budget.

Reach Rosemary Shinohara at rshinohara@adn.com or 257-4340.

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