School Board candidate Q&A: How would you fill the revenue gap?

March 26, 2013 

In the days leading to the April 2 municipal election, we'll be publishing responses from School Board candidates to a range of questions. Read other questions at adn.com/cityelection

Q: The School Board this year cut programs and dipped into savings to make up for a $25 million shortfall. The district is predicting more cuts next year. If you were on the board, how would you approach filling the gap? Please be specific.

School Board Seat A

Bettye Davis: I would work to get adequate funds at the state and municipal levels. I would start at once to find areas where the district could cut the budget. I would strive to eliminate the exit exam.

Don Smith: We need to convince the Governor, Legislature, Mayor and Assembly of the importance of education. We are facing $25 million in cuts each year for the next 2 or 3 years. The School Board should have more of a say in the decision making process regarding the School District budget.

School Board Seat B

Stephanie Cornwell-George: Collaborative practices. There are many entities out there struggling to meet the needs with limited budgets. We need to work together to meet the needs of our community. A school cannot try to do everything for everyone but there are very real issues that impact a student's ability to learn that must be addressed.

Eric Croft: I will enforce budget discipline focusing our resources on the classroom. Further cuts can be made in district middle management and through a line-by-line examination of all district expenditures. We also must advocate as a community for additional state funding and direct this into instruction.

David Nees: The district is looking at $25 million, $50 million and $100 million budget gaps over the life of this seat. We need to cut costs on all non-instructional spending. We need to end the practice of renting space for charter school by returning them to the unused space in ASD. (4 elementary schools worth of space) We need to look at transportation; we are currently paying both PERS retirement for our ASD bus drivers and an additional $20,000 a month to the Teamsters Pension fund. (118 employees). Outsourcing transportation would save us personnel costs, maintenance and replacement of equipment costs, and the retirement costs. We could also generate income from leasing our busses and facilities. These two solutions leave ASD with no shortages till 2015. We need to look at the $ spent on the Teachers Health Trust managed by NEA Alaska. It costs the district $2000 a month for teachers using this plan and $900 a month for those teachers who opt out. The ASD does not get a financial accounting of how this insurance trust money is used, like it would be if we used Blue Cross or other private insurance. If ASD entered a larger insurance pool like Alaska Cares the rates would be lower. I used to work in an Insurance company they know how to manage investments

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