School board signs off on budget

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, April 6, 2015 10:24pm
  • News

The Board of Education on Monday passed the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s $165.6 million fiscal year 2016 operating budget.

The board discussed the final revisions proposed by Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones during a worksession Monday. The process began in October, 2014.

Included in the conversation was the recent amendment made to the state operating budget by the Senate on April 2 that would reduce the foundation formula, which is used to determine funding for school districts, by 4.1 percent.

The amendment cuts more than $4.2 million in state funding to the district and reduces the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s maximum local contribution by nearly $1 million, according to a April 3 school district press release. Those changes are in addition to Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal to cut one-time statewide funding to eduction, passed by last year’s Legislature. The result in the potential loss of $8 million to the district, which translate to more than 100 school district positions, according to the release.

“We can only spend what we are given,” said board member Lynn Hohl. “We can’t make money here. It’s serious.”

The FY16 budget does not contain any proposed non-tenured contract cuts, said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff. The reduction of positions with the secondary level pupil-teacher ratio change was absorbed through resignations and retirements, she said.

“Based upon what transpires with legislative actions and potential unanticipated funding reductions for fiscal year 2016, the district may decide to fill open positions on a case-by-case basis,” Erkeneff said. “Currently more than 30 positions are posted online and open.”

The pupil:teacher ratio at the secondary level, grades 7-12, will increase, but educators will be shifted around, not let go, she said.

The school board also discussed the fact that the state and borough budgets have not been finalized.

Borough mayor Mike Navarre told the school board he did not expect proposed cuts to education to be as drastic as they currently appear.

“If you try to react to every move that’s being made in Juneau right now you are going to get lost,” Navarre said.

The Kenai Peninsula will feel impacts from state cuts, Navarre said.

At this point, Navarre said he is unable to estimate how much the assembly is considering contributing to education. If the members decide to fund to the cap it means the borough will have to increase taxes in the future, “maybe not this year, but soon,” he said.

Jones said if the school board did not make recommended reductions, the “fiscal cliff” will be much steeper next year, and more dramatic cuts will have to be made.

Superintendent Sean Dusek said, that smaller cuts now would allow the school district another 12 months to engage parents and educators within the Kenai Peninsula community and come up with a long term plan for designing the budget in upcoming years.

Built into the budget is a decrease in general funds used for state tournament travel costs, utility budgets, consolidating positions, efficiencies in pool operations district-wide and changing the pupil;teacher ratio.

Hohl said she would rather “put things in than take things out,” and would prefer to have waited on passing the school district budget until the state’s is finalized.

“We have a basic building block with which to move forward,” said board president Joe Arness following approval of the budget.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

Kristin Lambert testifies in support of funding for the Soldotna Senior Center during an assembly meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
After leadership change, borough funds Soldotna senior center

The Soldotna City Council in May voted to defund the center for the upcoming fiscal year

Signs direct visitors at Seward City Hall on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
5 vying for Seward city manager gig

The Seward City Council will convene for a special city council meeting on June 12 to review candidates’ applications

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna resident found dead in home

He was found Monday morning

Dr. Katherine Ortega Courtney speaks during the 100% Alaska Community Town Hall on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
100% Alaska survey results, state of services discussed at town hall

Change 4 the Kenai leads conversation about access to mental health, housing, transportation

Soldotna High School senior Josiah Burton testifies in opposition to a proposed cut of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District theater technicians while audience members look on during a board of education meeting on Monday, March 6, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Awaiting state funding, board of ed works to bring back staff positions

Alaska lawmakers this session passed a budget bill that includes $175 million in one-time funding for Alaska’s K-12 schools

David Brighton (left) and Leslie Byrd (right) prepare to lead marchers from the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex to Soldotna Creek Park as part of Soldotna Pride in the Park on Saturday, June 3, 2023 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Nobody Can Drag Us Down’: Soldotna celebrates LGBTQ+ pride

The event featured food trucks, vendors and a lineup of performers that included comedy, drag and music

Judges Peter Micciche, Terry Eubank and Tyler Best sample a salmon dish prepared by chef Stephen Lamm of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank at Return of the Reds on Saturday, June 3, 2023, at the Kenai City Dock in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai celebrates ‘Return of the Reds’ in food bank fundraiser

Chefs competed for best salmon recipe; fresh-caught fish auctioned

A freshly stocked rainbow trout swims in Johnson Lake during Salmon Celebration on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at Johnson Lake in Kasilof, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Excellent lake fishing, good halibut and slow salmon

Northern Kenai Fishing Report for June 1

Map via Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Assembly to consider emergency service area for Cooper Landing

Borough legislation creating the service area is subject to voter approval

Most Read