Comeau estimates that increasing class size by 1 or 2 students would save the district $4.6 million dollars over the next year. So keeping classes the same size would force the district to make $4.6 million in cuts in other areas. Of course, all of the alternate cuts will hurt someone.
For example, under the plan -- if class sizes are maintained -- 7 Library Aids will have to lose their full-time jobs. Six more part-time library Library Aids would also lose theirs. The position of Library Resources Manager would be eliminated -- after the current person in that position retires this summer.
Other jobs would be lost as well -- bringing the elimination of positions to well over a dozen.
And that's not the end of the cuts.
Busing for the "highly gifted" program at Rogers Park would be eliminated -- saving more than $160,000 per year.
And busing for the "activities" program at South Anchorage High School -- to Girdwood -- would also be cut, saving $21,000.
Cuts in the funding of student supplies -- for more than 49,000 youngsters in the Anchorage School District -- would be enacted to the tune of $5 per student. That would save nearly a quarter million dollars more.
And the funding of middle school sports would be reduced. Sports programs such as volley ball -- which currently feature inter-school competition -- would have those games scaled back. Most of the competitions would become intramural. Then -- once a year -- there would be an inter-school sports jamboree for the middle schools.
While Comeau says these alternate cuts are possible, she doesn't believe they're wise. She says studies have shown that increasing class-size from say, 22 to 23 students does not adversely impact education. She thinks that, on the whole, increasing class-size modestly -- and avoiding the proposed cuts that she's been asked to outline -- is a better solution.
The board has only 5 days left to decide which path to take. It must vote on how to live within its new, $728 million dollar budget.
In March, the plan goes before the Anchorage City Assembly. After that, it's on to the state legilature in Juneau -- which must put its stamp of approval on the budget before the start of the new Fiscal Year on July 1st.
Even though they represent a shortfall of less than 3 percent, Comeau says the cuts are tough. Each year school district costs rise by 5 percent. And because of a drop in oil production at the North Slope, the state is experiencing a tightening in its fiscal situation.