School board members prepare to vote on budget

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, March 14, 2016 10:27pm
  • News

With less than a month from the vote, Board of Education members report they plan to approve the school district’s budget — though not without uneasiness.

Spending for next year has been reduced by $4.5 million from the current fiscal year, and further allocations or cuts from the state level are still uncertain.

“I think that what they have done is realistic,” said board member Marty Anderson. “You never want to lose programs.”

Subjects like music and extracurricular activities like athletics have decisive value in developing social skills, critical thinking skills and hand-eye coordination, he said. However, sometimes it comes down to working with what is available.

“At the end of the day, you want the child to leave school and want them to be prepared for getting a college education or the workforce,” Anderson said.

Soldotna High School junior Brian Dusek, who fills the student seat and will offer an advisory vote at the April 4 meeting, said while future effects remain to be felt, he and his peers aren’t expecting any significant differences in the way daily schedules will operate next year.

Anderson said he is pleased with how administrators developed the budget this year, and added he has only voted against the proposed budget once in the dozen years he has filled a seat on the board.

Tim Navarre said the deficit, or lack thereof, is what sold him on this year’s budget.

The projected deficit now sits at $138,665, after some major slashes. The majority of the cuts, $3.1 million, are for 35.41 full time equivalent staff and certified staff, and the remaining $1.4 million comes from reductions to travel, supply, software and purchased services expenses. In 2015, staff and services were reduced by $1.25 million from the previous year, and by $1.38 in 2016.

The pupil-teacher ratio is set to rise, by 1 or 2 FTE, at all sites other than the school district’s two alternative high schools, Homer Flex and Kenai Alternative. Reductions in those two schools are not out of the question just yet. Board member Dan Castimore said he plans to make an amendment to the budget when it is presented in April to propose the board fund .5 FTE less for each school.

Aiming low early helps the principals, who are responsible for developing budgets for their individual schools, Navarre said. In terms of planning their year, is easier for site administrators to put a teacher back into their classrooms than remove one if more funding becomes available, he said.

By doing so the school district plans for a lower, more accurate deficit, Navarre said.

“You never spend all of your money,” Navarre said.

In early 2015 the school district projected between a $3.9-8.7 million deficit, and reported the actual deficit is just less than $1.5 million.

Making cuts ahead of time means sending a more conservative budget to the state and borough that also reflects the extensive reductions a school district made to achieve a balanced budget, Navarre said. Seeing those cuts on paper may have a real impact, and officials won’t question the school district later if the projected deficit varies from the actual deficit, he said.

Navarre is a longtime proponent of the state forward-funding education. He said if the school district knew, if even only one year, in advance what money they would be receiving from the state or borough, it would make budget development much smoother, he said.

Board member Liz Downing agreed that uncertainties cause uneasiness throughout the process.

“At this moment, we don’t know what the Legislature’s final budget will be, what the final borough budget will look like and we don’t know what the governor will do when it is time to sign the budget,” Downing said. “This always makes for some discomfort when passing the budget, but it is not a static document and we can and will make adjustments as needed.”

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Two snowmachine-triggered snow slabs are seen below the weather station of Seattle Ridge in Turnagain Pass on Dec. 3, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Chris Flowers and the Chugach Avalanche Center)
Multiple avalanches in Turnagain Pass reported Friday

The center reported Saturday that current avalanche danger was considerable above 1,000 feet and moderate below 1,000 feet.

The logo for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is displayed inside the George A. Navarre Borough Admin Building on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
School district changes COVID policy for close contacts

The policy went into effect on Nov. 29

This 2010 photo shows the soon-to-be-replaced Tustumena come into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia. Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced on Saturday the state would be replacing the ferry. The replacement vessel has not yet been named, and a statewide contest will be held to name the new vessel, Dunleavy said. (Homer News File)
State moves ahead with replacement of Tustumena

The state has other plans for updating the marine highway.

A sign urging COVID-19 mitigation measures hangs at a free vaccination clinic at the Y intersection of the Kenai Spur and Sterling highways, on Tuesday, Nov. 30 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Omicron variant spurs travel restrictions locally, nationally

It’s still unclear if the omicron strain is more dangerous than other COVID variants.

Commercial fishing and other boats are moored in the Homer Harbor in this file photo. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Seawatch: Bycatch becomes hot issue

Dunleavy forms bycatch task force.

Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Something for everyone’

Library holds art and book sale fundraiser

Danny Dommek takes photos with Santa at Soldotna Creek Park on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘And to all a good night’

Soldotna celebrates Christmas in the Park

The badge for the Kenai Police Department (Clarion file)
Walmart briefly evacuated after bomb threat

The investigation is ongoing.

The new Homer Police Station, as seen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 in Homer, Alaska. Members of the Homer Police Department officially moved into the building on Thursday. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
K-9 trooper team finds lost girl

A 12-year-old girl, poorly dressed for the elements, ran away from her downtown Homer home.

Most Read