District hires 12 teachers

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is moving forward with hiring 12 of 30 open positions for the 2017-2018 school year after the Kenai Borough Assembly passed the Fiscal Year 2018 budget Tuesday, increasing borough funding to the district by $1.5 million over last year.

“The school district is extremely grateful that the borough assembly and mayor took action on the budget,” District Spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff said in a phone interview Wednesday. “This morning we were excited to offer a handful of local teachers positions, some of whom did not have a job for next year because we couldn’t rehire them because of budget restrictions.”

The district was able to extend these job offers and also give district principals the go-ahead to begin the interview process for open positions in their schools.

“A handful of principals are interviewing for positions now open at their school site, with the ability for KPBSD to offer a qualified candidate a position immediately,” Erkeneff said in a news release Thursday.

Superintendent Sean Dusek had received preliminary approval from the Board of Education during a work session meeting on Monday to fill the positions even if the funding wasn’t available from the state or the borough, which would have required the Board of Education to approve the use of an additional $1.1 million from the general fund balance.

“(The assembly and Mayor Mike Navarre) demonstrated leadership and made some difficult decisions that supported the schools in our district,” Dusek said in Thursday’s statement.

The district had frozen 30 open positions due to budget uncertainties at a borough and state level. The district passed a preliminary FY18 budget in April that assumed status quo funding from both the borough and state, but the budget was passed with the knowledge that revenue changes were likely.

“I am grateful that the Borough Assembly and Mayor Navarre took action that provided some fiscal certainty to the school district,” Dusek said in the release.

In the FY18 borough budget, $49.73 million is appropriated for the school district, a $1.5 million increase over FY17. The borough will provide $38.88 million in local effort support available to the district, versus FY17’s $37.48 million. The borough also budgeted $10.85 million for operations and in-kind support, up from the $10.65 budgeted last year.

The district, though, is still waiting for the Legislature to pass the state budget before filling the remaining 18 positions.

“The district is waiting to learn what the funding from the state is,” Erkeneff said. “When that is finalized, then the district will be able to make final decisions moving forward to hire with the remaining positions or for the cuts based on what the funding is.”

Revenue from the Alaska Legislature remains unknown, but could range from status-quo funding to a 5 percent reduction.

Reach Kat Sorensen at kat.sorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

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