FAIRBANKS — The 'Armageddon plan' is the name of a backup FY20 budget being drawn up by school district officials preparing for cuts.
Superintendent Karen Gaborik announced the alternate plan at a budget forum Wednesday on Facebook Live.
An education spending plan introduced by Gaborik requests status quo state funding, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy has since called for a 24.3 percent cut to K-12 education.
“I am going to build a plan in response to the governor’s budget,” said Gaborik, head of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.
The district faces about a $30 million shortfall. That kind of cut — 12-13 percent of the $243 million budget — would touch everything, the superintendent said.
Thirty million dollars pays for 260 teachers, she said. Cutting that many teachers would result in kindergarten classes of 55 students and high school classes of 63 — an unlikely scenario — Gaborik said.
“We would never start in the classroom. You start in the administration,” she said.
Cut all of the school district administration, including the payroll department and the superintendent’s office, and you still don’t get to $30 million, Gaborik said.
“It’s not a small number to deal with,” she said.
She plans to deliver the “Armageddon Plan” to the Board of Education at a work session March 4. An adopted budget is due to the borough by April 1.
Joining Gaborik on Facebook Live were school board President Wendy Dominique and Chief Operating Officer Andy DeGraw. The format was talk-show style — think ABC’s “The View” — but with fewer people and with a focus on public education.
The education leaders discussed questions that were posted online, including on topics such as salaries and layoffs.
School district enrollment is declining, and Gaborik said she is hoping to eliminate jobs through attrition.
In addition to facing reduced state support, the district is negotiating three contracts covering 1,750 employees.
Gaborik and DeGraw said they aim to do right by school district employees.
“I pledge to do everything the district can to make this district a desirable place where people want to come to work,” DeGraw said.
Dominique said that she is hearing from people who feel the state is trading public education for bigger Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks.
“People just need to continue to write our legislators and especially our governor,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the school district said they had as many as 28 people watching the Facebook Live event. A recording is posted on the school district’s Facebook page.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter:@FDNMborough.