Inlet View remodel, not rebuild, would save millions

By John Bernitz, Mitch Cullom, Lois Epstein, Deborah Hansen, Martin Hansen, Elise Huggins, David McCarthy and Sharon Meacham

Updated: 7 hours ago Published: 7 hours ago

To address a $68 million deficit resulting from the lack of state education funding, last month the Anchorage School District proposed closing six elementary schools. Since these school closures — most in low-income neighborhoods — would save only $3.5 million to $4 million, ASD also may cut sports, gifted programs, and other critical student programs and activities, and increase the student to teacher ratio districtwide.

Despite its dire financial situation, ASD’s proposed capital improvement program, or CIP, for 2022-2027 includes nearly $38 million for a rebuild of downtown’s Inlet View Elementary School, located in a comparatively well-off neighborhood. This proposed rebuild is the most expensive capital project on the CIP list even though Inlet View has the seventh smallest enrollment of the district’s 58 elementary schools, as of November 2022. The Anchorage School Board plans to vote on the CIP projects on Dec. 5.

ASD cannot justify such a costly expenditure on Inlet View when a remodel likely would cost $10 million to $15 million less, similar to what has been done for Turnagain Elementary and what likely will be done for Lake Otis Elementary. Though many Inlet View neighbors opposed to the proposed rebuild have testified at numerous Anchorage School Board meetings and at least board member Dave Donley supports a remodel, to date that option has not been discussed by the board and it needs to be.

Yes, Inlet View would have fewer years of longevity with a remodel, but its lower cost is what ASD can afford at this time. A remodel would extend the school’s…

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