Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Finance Director Liz Hayes, left, testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly during a budget work session on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Finance Director Liz Hayes, left, testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly during a budget work session on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Borough, school district present local funding process

The presentation was the second as part of KPBSD’s “Budget 101”

The process for determining how much money the Kenai Peninsula Borough gives the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District each fiscal year was the subject of the latest installment in a series aimed at boosting public awareness about how the school district’s budget process works.

KPBSD Finance Director Liz Hayes and Kenai Peninsula Borough Finance Director Brandi Harbaugh gave a joint presentation to the school board during a work session on Monday. The presentation was the second as part of KPBSD’s “Budget 101.”

Hayes started the presentation by explaining the time frame during which the borough and school district communicate about school funding.

Hayes said KPBSD presents a budget to the school board in January that must be passed by April. Then the document is sent to the borough, which has — per state statute — 30 days to respond by deciding the minimum amount of funding it will give to the district that fiscal year.

Hayes said the district and borough work together during those 30 days to get a sense of how much money the district will get.

“In the meantime, with conversations that Clayton (Holland) and I have with Mayor (Peter) Micciche (and) with Brandi, we have an idea of where the funding is going to come in,” Hayes said. “What we don’t know is how much of that funding is going to be in in-kind services and in an appropriation.”

Harbaugh said the Kenai Peninsula Borough usually gets KPBSD’s budget in April, meaning the assembly usually sets the funding floor during its first meeting in May. The funding floor refers to the minimum amount of money the borough will give the school district during a given fiscal year.

“Once we set that floor, when we pass our budget, we cannot go below that floor when we provide funding for the school district,” Harbaugh said.

The borough funded KPBSD at about $54.7 million for the current fiscal year, which started on July 1, 2023, and ends on June 30, 2024.

Of that, $40 million is for school district operations, which Harbaugh described as “cutting a check” to KPBSD. The other $14 million is the value of in-kind, or non-monetary, services the borough plans to provide for the school district during the fiscal year.

Maintenance of district buildings, insurance, auditing services, custodial services for district buildings and utility bills are in-kind services the borough provides for KPBSD.

Harbaugh said the school district fund is just one of 45 managed by the borough. The borough’s final operating budget, which contains funding for the school district, is adopted in June.

“That budget has been prepared, drafted, pulled together, bound and presented to the assembly in the first week of May, and that’s our introduction of the budget document,” Harbaugh said. “We then have a couple of hearings, one towards the end of May, one towards the beginning of June, and then we adopt and pass the ordinance in the first meeting in June.”

KPBSD’s “Budget 101” series installments are available to stream on the district’s BoardDocs site.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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