School Board Makes Pitch For Full Funding
Friday, 26 April 2013
There was only one item on the agenda for the joint work session between the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and Board of Education last night – the school district’s budget. The board passed a $48.7 million budget during Monday’s regular meeting, which included a $10.6 million funding request from the borough.
That’s the state-allowed maximum, and the borough has only been funding about 96 percent of it in recent years. But as School Board President Melissa Borton said, less funding from state and federal sources has forced the district to request the additional $400,000 to meet the state cap.
-- (School Boro WS 1 :14 “Now we’re in a
position where we’re reducing programs and working hard to maintain
small class sizes and maintain programs. And we’re struggling. This is
the first year I can say we’re really, really struggling.”)
district receives 62 percent of its operational revenue from the state.
This year, that total came in at $34.3 million. But a last minute piece
of legislation could send about $450,000 more to Kodiak. That money
wasn’t included in the budget passed on Monday, or the request to the
borough last night. Chief Business Officer Lisa Pearce said that’s
because there are still a lot of questions regarding how they can be
-- (School Boro WS 2 :26 “Not because we were
trying to hide them at all, but mainly because we didn’t’ want to put
them into a document and have it appear that all of a sudden we have
another $400,000 when it was made very, very clear by the legislators in
a very forceful manner that these are to be considered one time funds,
not operational funds and we should not plan to utilize them for any
time of a reoccurring, or type of expense that is going to require some
sort of sustainability.”)
She said the budget bill amendment came
through during the last day of the legislative session and appropriates
an additional $21 million to schools based on their student enrollment
-- (School Boro WS 3 :24 “Each district
was to use the funds for, and it’s underlined there, it’s verbatim out
of the amendment, they were to be used for student safety and security
enhancement, for fixed cost and energy relief. Now that is the
classification for districts that have an average daily membership of
4,500 or less, which Kodiak falls under that. So we would have that
Ideally, Pearce said the district would
put the funds to energy costs and free up other money in the budget.
But that falls under operational costs, which districts were advised not
to use the money for.
Other districts across the state are also
confused about the expectation for the funds, and the matter has gone
to the attorney general for clarification. In the meantime, the district
opted to leave the numbers out.
Back to the budget. The district
approached this budget cycle through attrition. As staff members
retired or resigned, specialty teachers were moved into those roles to
keep class sizes down. Faculty sharing between the Middle and High
School helped ease the loss of teachers, but the same wasn’t so for
elementary schools. The additional $400,000 the district is requesting
from the borough would pay for new hires in primary grades and help keep
class sizes low.
There was little discussion on the budget, but Assemblywoman Carol Austerman cut to the chase.
(School Boro WS 4 :28 “And so how many teachers is
$399,000? A little less than four. It would be four. We would find a way
to make it four.”)
That was Superintendent Stewart McDonald
saying the additional funding request would fund four full time teachers
in the elementary schools.
The borough assembly will review the
funding request during its work session on May 9 and put it to a vote
during its regular meeting on May 16.