The Fairbanks School District has lost roughly 1,300 students since 2015, and expects to lose even more next year. Many of these children have moved on to various homeschool programs or private education – both of which have rapidly expanded as the public school system shrinks.

Over the past several years, Fairbanks students have endured a combination of divisive and aggressive leftist ideas, Covid closures and controversial masking policies. Many families have had enough, and are continuing to pull their kids from traditional government schools.

With the exodus, comes a steep loss in state and federal funds for the district, a reality that is also impacting other districts across the state. That has caused Fairbanks to look at cutting nearly 80 full-time teachers.

At its Feb. 6 meeting, the school board will introduce a “Reduction in Force Plan,” which was drafted by district administration.

The plan notes that Fairbanks lost 200 students this year and has seen a “steady decline in enrollment over the last several years.” Total enrollment in 2020 was 13,233. Next year, the district predicts it will only have 12,408 students to teach.

Nowhere in the district’s layoff plan is there mention of cutting high level administrative or staffing positions. Instead, the burden will fall on reductions in school programs and full-time teachers.

While Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed fully funding the Base Student Allocation (the state’s per-student contribution), the drop in projected students will reduce the district’s state foundation funding by about $3.1 million. Likewise, federal dollars – which are also allotted on a per student basis – are expected to drop by $725,000.

Additionally, the district has largely exhausted its federal Covid relief funds (CARES), which means it now faces a nearly $10 million dollar shortfall compared to the current fiscal year.

According to state law, Fairbanks’ decreased enrollment means its basic financial need has dropped from $150 million in 2020 to a projection of about $140 million next year.

Given this reality, the district plan suggests laying off 33 full-time elementary teachers, 38.5 secondary teachers and 6.5 ELP teachers.

If these cuts are approved by the school board, it will contribute to a continued retraction of government education in Alaska. In 2022, Fairbanks cut 70 teachers and shuttered three standard public schools, transferring one over to the district’s homeschool program.

While the district is officially planning for the teacher layoffs, it is simultaneously seeking to persuade the Fairbanks Borough and the State Legislature to increase education funding, which would allow the district to keep more teachers despite the fact that there are less children to actually teach.

Nowhere in the district’s layoff plan is there mention of cutting high level administrative or staffing positions. Instead, the burden will fall on reductions in school programs and full-time teachers.

“Some classes may not be offered based on school and/or District enrollment,” the proposed plan states. “Changes in staffing levels may impact the diversity of courses and core academic and elective experiences that have previously been offered.”

Notably, the district acknowledges that even with the teacher layoffs and reduction in various programs, it will still be able to “maintain its core academic programs,” suggesting that many of the courses slated to be cut fall outside the district’s basic core mission.

If the plan is approved by the school board, layoff notices will be sent out by May 15.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

With shrinking enrollment and $9.6M revenue drop Fairbanks schools look to cut 78 teachers

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Johnny says:

    Go woke, go broke. Good job Fairbanks folks! Keep your kids out of those sewage pits!

    • Shadow says:

      Indeed, Johnny, and with the Fairbanks/North Star Borough voters electing leftists Assembly members, it is even more reason to go one step further, and move out of the borough altogether, as leftist policies in school may just be the beginning. For now the borough assembly (from what I have been reading?) want to increase the borough property tax rate. Government officials always were good at spending other people’s money.

  • Steve P Peterson says:

    Will they get the clue that they suck and have lost the confidence of the public, or will they roll full-steam woke ahead. My guess is the latter because leftists cannot fathom cause-effect or logic.

    • Walt says:

      Full steam ahead, just like the Titanic. Only the iceberg will be GOD. This far and no further!
      “Their foot shall slide in due time, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” ~ Deuteronomy 32:35

  • H.Nelson says:

    Yep.. “Go woke, go broke” is a happening thing these days. Ask Disney how it’s working out. How about Sports Illustrated? They fired 19,000 employees over a trans swim suit edition. Bud Lite would to comment but they’re still hemorrhaging cash.

  • SA says:

    The drop in enrollment in Fairbanks public schools is due to out-migration, decrease in the number of people moving from Outside to Fairbanks, and a drop in fertility rates. These same factors are plaguing the entire state of Alaska. There is no evidence to support the claim that Fairbanks families are pulling their kids out of public schools because of “woke” policies, nor is there evidence that the majority of the decline in the student population in Fairbanks public schools is due to students shifting to home schooling or private schools.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      No evidence that the number of homeschooled children is increasing? I would imagine that the alternative schools would have data on their increases. Maybe just that those numbers has not been published?

    • Daddio says:

      SA, that is simply not the case.
      Evidence of increase in homeschooling, charter schooling, and private schooling in all of Alaska… and the US… is ubiquitous. We took out our 10 children and now are working on taking out 4 more. Whether you call it “woke” policies or the Marxist march through the institutions, brick and mortar public schooling is dying and I hope brick and mortar higher education follows.

    • DaveMaxwell says:

      This is evidence of the public system! Thin brained incapable, ideologically driven warriors, cutting with passionate disregard the very limbs their sitting on! To you I say TIMBER!!!!!

      • Walt says:

        Well said, Dave. And this corruption of public education happened so quickly after that demented man took up residence in the WH. By God’s amazing grace I hope to be there to see him get the justice he deserves.

    • RA says:

      SA: More than one thing can be true at the same time. The reason the granddaughter is in a private Christian school is because of the “woke” nonsense, The district has trouble teaching the basics, is top heavy with management, and wants to scare the public with classroom teacher layoffs.
      Somehow they still find the money to go to Juneau and lobby.

  • John J Otness says:


  • Ron Gillham says:

    of course they cut teachers. If they cut administrators it wouldn’t hurt so much. Cuts, from any agency, are only made where they hurt the public the most, never from where they are needed.

  • Randall C Frank says:

    When the legislature again takes 3/4 of our PFD as a way to fund our state and local government “needs,” our state’s resident children with little or no other income except their PFD will give up the most percentage wise to fund those “needs.” Last year the legislature charged or taxed each qualified resident $3k from our $4k PFD. If your only income for the year was your PFD, how would you like it if the state took 75% of it for state “needs” and you were not even able to vote for a change in representation.

    • Joel says:

      If your only income for the year is the pfd you need to get a job. Conservatives decry Medicaid and any sort of social security as “government handouts” but when it comes to a literal government handout like the pfd suddenly it’s their right to free money from oil companies.