Anchorage School Board briefed on increasing classroom sizes as budget option

Anchorage School Board briefed on increasing classroom sizes as budget option
Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 4:56 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage School Board members say they want to keep cuts out of the classroom, but that may prove difficult as they consider how to tackle a budget deficit of more than $60 million. On Monday, the district briefed board members on possible savings from increasing the PTR, or Pupil Teacher Ratio, which would increase class sizes to save money.

The district presented several different scenarios that included increasing class size by a just single student, and those with up to five additional students. Depending on how many grade levels were increased, the savings ranged between $3.3 million all the way up to $32.2 million.

But increasing class sizes is not a popular option, according to interim results from a public survey the district is currently conducting. Of those who responded, increasing class size received the least support as a budget balancing tool, even ahead of closing schools.

School Board President Margo Bellamy said increasing class size is not ideal, but added the board needs the information so it can accurately consider every option. A balanced budget is likely to require cuts or changes in a number of areas but board members emphasize that nothing has been decided yet.

The Anchorage School Board has an all-day work session planned for Dec. 10, after which it hopes to have a clearer path on which options to pursue. It’s required to pass a balanced budget in February.