School Board Grapples With Millions In Cuts

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board continues to receive comments on the proposed budget for next year.
Julia Laude reports.
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: School board members have tough decisions to make.
Heidi Haas; Board President>>: "Every reduction is going to impact students. We are literally down to the bones."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: Student activities and employees are at risk of being lost or heavily reduced.
Heidi Collins; Districtwide Art Teacher>>: "I know you guys have things to cut but I think you can maybe find a creative solution. We hope you can."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: One of the main topics of discussion between concerned students, teachers and parents and the board has been cuts to sports.
If approved, rifle will be cut from Hutchison, West Valley, Lathrop and North Pole high schools.
Jennifer Marie; Rifle Coach>>: "I shot on the rifle team for four years, it was the best experience of my life. I think it's really important that you guys understand that those aren't my teammates, it's my family."
Audrey Lammers; Rifle Coach>>: "And I'm here for them. I'm here because I love them and they deserve to have this for the next couple of years, forever. They deserve it. We owe it to them."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: Football cheerleading and hockey are also on that list.
As the Tanana Valley Sportsman Association has considered stepping up to take over rifle programs, there has been no such talk for the other sports.
Karen Gaborik; Superintendent of Schools>>: "I am open to that conversation with T-V-S-A if they were to contact me and say 'Hey we're interested in doing that.' I have not heard that the comp hockey association is ready for that or even interested in outsourcing and I haven't heard anything about cheer either."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: Librarians and library assistants have also voiced concerns for their jobs, and their advocacy has had an effect.
Some schools have offered a trade in order to keep their Library Assistants.
Sharon McConnell; Board Member>>: "I do support the switch outs. I think if we are going to move forward with personalized learning we really do need those library assistants."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: But there are some schools who can't afford to make any trade.
Robin Taylor; Hutchison High School>>: "My attendance secretary and those positions are also critical. I just don't have anything."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: Even school custodians spoke before the board.
Charles Casterline; Custodian, Ryan Middle School>>: "30 minutes before this meeting started I had to chase someone out of the bathroom who was sleeping in there - and it's my day off."
Julia Laude; Reporting>>: Residents have three more opportunities to speak publicly to the board before they approve its budget.
There will be a public hearing and budget work session on Monday the 19th.
This is Julia Laude reporting.