All of my children are products of the Anchorage School District. I have been impressed with the quality programs available for those who choose to take advantage.
Bringing up smart kids who are ready for life is the best hope for solving the problems we have and for creating opportunities for growth.
The Assembly doesn’t have much reach into the Anchorage School District. ASD is run independently with its own elected Board who run the system through a chief executive. The Assembly can give a thumbs up or down to the ASD’s proposed budget but can’t go in and change details. We can also give a thumbs up or down on the ASD’s proposed bonds. This is a good system. Education is so complex and so important, it works to have an organization focused specifically on it.
While the Municipality and the school district are separate, we have taken advantage of opportunities for shared services. For example, the ASD manages a huge number of buildings and has developed staff and a maintenance regime that works well. Solid Waste Services and the Port of Alaska have hired ASD to manage their facilities. The Municipality has a good system for maintaining our heavy equipment and has taken over some of that work for ASD.
The Municipality is required to fund a significant part of the school district’s budget. The State sets a minimum we must fund and a maximum we are allowed to fund. In my time on the Assembly we have provided the maximum level allowed.
One of the focuses of the Anchorage Chamber’s Municipal Activities Committee has been to work with Anchorage schools. We worked with King Tech High School on a business class curriculum, we encouraged school/business partnerships and work with The United Way on their 90% by 2020 goal. For 2017, the Anchorage School District reported a graduation rate of 81.4%. Ten years ago, when the goal was created, the graduation rate was 59%.
Our school district has show it has the ability to graduate extremely well prepared students. For students who are motivated, the opportunity is there.