In Sitka, Alaska, the local school district is bracing for possible staff reductions despite efforts to maintain low pupil-teacher ratios and enrich educational offerings. Interim Superintendent Steve Bradshaw highlighted the district’s precarious position, noting that even without gubernatorial intervention to slash the proposed legislative increase in education funding—as occurred last year—Sitka schools could see a reduction of seven to eight teaching roles next year. This scenario unfolds against the backdrop of a wider debate on education funding in Alaska, with Senate Bill 140 proposing a $680 per-pupil funding increase for the upcoming year, a sum that districts like Sitka argue is insufficient to cover their financial needs without making personnel cuts.

Bradshaw’s commentary paints a stark picture of the consequences such cuts would entail, ranging from the loss of approximately one teacher per grade level to the broader implications for the district’s ability to offer diverse opportunities to its students. These potential reductions underscore the challenges facing the district, which has not seen a base student allocation increase since 2016. The combination of inflationary pressures, particularly noticeable in local food prices, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, have left the district’s staff stressed and stretched thin, according to Bradshaw, who temporarily came out of retirement in Montana to assume the superintendent role in Sitka.

Amid these challenges, Bradshaw appealed to the school board and the community to lobby for gubernatorial support of Senate Bill 140, emphasizing the critical need for sustained and adequate education funding to prevent the erosion of Sitka’s educational quality and opportunities for students.

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