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Mat-Su school district proposes budget with more than 100 staff positions cut

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By Amy Bushatz

Updated: 7 hours ago Published: 7 hours ago

PALMER — Mat-Su Borough schools will be down about 105 full-time staff positions for the 2024-25 school year under a proposed budget approved by the school board last month.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District, with more than 19,000 students, is the state’s second-largest behind Anchorage. The cuts represent about 5% of the district’s approximately 2,090 current full-time employees, according to district budget documents.

State funding for schools in Anchorage and around the state remains in flux. Gov. Mike Dunleavy in March vetoed a bill that would have provided a $175 million funding boost for the state’s public schools. Lawmakers failed to pass a veto override.

The reduced positions in Mat-Su include about 38 classroom teachers and 35 instructional support positions. They are part of a series of budget cuts school district officials said are needed to make up for a nearly $19 million funding shortfall following the expiration of $17 million in annual federal COVID-19 relief money. District officials had hoped state funding would make up about $15 million of the gap, according to budget documents.

The proposed budget will not trigger forced layoffs, district officials said. Instead, positions vacated through normal attrition over the summer won’t be refilled, they said.

The cuts, which will be spread across the district’s 48 schools, will mean a slight increase to average class size, officials said.

Paired with cost savings from a controversial change to employee health insurance put in place last year, the employee reductions will save the district about $7.9 million, according to budget documents.

The district’s $263.5 million budget also includes a 17% or roughly $5.7 million reduction to department administrative budgets, officials said. Schools will also see a $15-per-student cut to their student supply budgets, bumping the total back to 2023 levels of $85 per student.

The proposed budget assumes the state will maintain the per-student funding levels given to districts last year, according to school district budget documents.

The school district budget must still be approved as part of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly overall budget process in May.





Read More: Mat-Su school district proposes budget with more than 100 staff positions cut

2024-04-02 01:32:18

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