As families brace for the beginning of the school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some families are choosing to take kids out of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s programs, and place their students into other home-school offerings. The loss of students could mean loss of revenue for the district. A resolution passed at Monday’s school board meeting supports the state using last year’s student head count, ensuring the district gets similar state funding for next school year.
Districts across the country are seeing “unprecedented” enrollment migration to other home-schooling programs, the resolution’s background information, included in the school board’s agenda, said.
The loss of in-person enrollment to KPBSD Connections Home School Program and other out-of-district correspondence programs will cause a significant loss of revenue for the school district, according to the background information.
Head count numbers are used each year to determine how much the state contributes to school districts across the state. The district may see students leave their programs for other distance-education programs during the pandemic, the resolution said, which could lead to a significant loss in revenue.
District administration say they’ve expressed concern with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development, and offered solutions, such as “hold harmless” funding for the 2021 budget to be used as a “stop gap means of maintaining adequate levels of funding for districts.”
“This will ensure that when students return from home school programs to our brick and mortar schools after the COVID-19 virus is in check, there will be educational programs and learning opportunities to meet their needs,” the background information said. “Without this type of hold harmless solution districts would be forced to make draconian cuts resulting in laying off of staff, closing pools, theatres, buildings, etc.”
The resolution was supported unanimously by the board. School board member Zen Kelly said he hopes the resolution provides the Alaska Legislature with a larger discussion about how the state funds education.
“If someone opts for home-school, if someone opts for something different, and they come back within a few days, a few weeks, if we miss the count, we don’t get funding for them,” school board member Greg Madden said at Monday’s meeting.