ANCHORAGE, Alaska — As part of its planning for budget cuts, the Anchorage School District took a step Thursday that it's never tried: asking some of its own students what they think the district should do.
While it’s something new for the district, it’s trying to deal with a $19 million shortfall -- a problem several dozen students from across the district who gathered at the King Career Center know all too well.
“I would probably give more exposure to the arts, because right now we only have three different classes for the arts,” said Romig Middle School student Luke Honeck.
“We're the ones who are directly going to be impacted by cutting 19 million dollars or 18 million or adding stuff -- we're the ones experiencing the effects of that,” said Eagle River High School student Ariel Zlatkovski.
Money for new computers can apparently wait.
“New technology? Some of it, yeah, we will need, but we don't need it constantly all the time,” said SAVE High School student Mariah Snowden.
“Conserving diesel for the buses, maybe train the bus drivers to use techniques so they're not running the busses for 15 minutes waiting for the kids to get out of school,” said Service High School student Aaron Haynes.
ASD Superintendent Carol Comeau came up with the idea for Thursday’s student forum.
“I thought this would be the way to get the student voice on the front end of our budget process,” Comeau said.
“It's so hard to cut money, but I guess it's important because later on in our life we're going to be managing companies or whatever and we’re going to have to do the same exact thing, so it's good we get to start now,” Zlatkowski said.
Students’ opinions were registered instantly on a screen, as they used remote devices to vote on a wide range of funding priorities including music programs, science, college prep, social studies, art, sports and language arts.
The consulting groups Information Insights and Agnew Beck helped organize the forum. The students’ responses will be organized and then presented to both the Anchorage School Board and the Anchorage Assembly before they vote on ASD’s budget.
Contact Jason Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org