State plans to close correspondence school

Posted: Tuesday, March 04, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state Education Department proposes closing its statewide correspondence school, Alyeska Central School, in late June in an effort to save $1.2 million in state spending.

Acting Education Commissioner Karen Rehfeld said many school districts now offer correspondence and distance learning programs and the state can no longer afford to duplicate those services.

If the Legislature goes along with the proposal, Rehfeld said the 1,100 students enrolled in Alyeska Central will have a number of options. There are about a dozen correspondence schools operated by local school districts in addition to 15 charter schools, she said.

Many Alyeska Central students can also enroll in their local district since just 45 students live in areas so remote they don't have access to a local school district, Rehfeld said.

With the closure of Alyeska, 26 teachers and 22 support staff at the Juneau school will lose their jobs.

Education Department spokesman Harry Gamble said the proposal will require legislative approval because state law currently requires the department to offer a centralized correspondence school.

Gov. Frank Murkowski's spokesman, John Manly, said the closure is part of the governor's proposed budget cuts for the coming fiscal year. Murkowski will present his budget to a joint session of the Legislature on Wednesday.

Alyeska's annual budget is $5.5 million. Some of those dollars will follow Alyeska students as they transfer to school district programs, Rehfeld said.

Gamble said the department expects to save at least the $1.2 million, which represents the cost of Alyeska's summer program.

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