School board starts budget process with question marks

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Wednesday, October 22, 2014 10:51pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education is building its 2016 fiscal year budget without knowing what funding is coming from the state and Kenai Peninsula Borough just yet.

The school board had their second meeting for budget development Tuesday.

Site councils from Anchor Point, Kalifornsky Beach, Nikiski, Kenai, Soldotna, Seldovia and Tyonek responded to the school board’s request for reviewing what areas of spending the individual schools can reduce.

No response came from Seward or Homer schools, said Superintendent Steve Atwater. The school board will follow up with the schools they haven’t received input from, said Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones.

The board is looking into its spending plan a little early this year, Atwater said.

“We have to,” said school board president Joe Arness. “We know we are going to be in a hole next year. We just don’t know how deep.”

Arness said the budget process begins even before teacher contracts are signed in early spring, so the board knows roughly how many employees the district can keep on the payroll. Staff salaries make up 82 percent of the budget, he said.

The school board has agreed to build a budget for the 2016 fiscal year going off of what they know right now, Arness said. That isn’t much, but that is common for this time of year, he said.

School board member Dan Castimore expressed his frustrations about the process.

“There is no point (in starting the budget process) because everything is an exercise in futility at this point anyway,” Castimore said. “Unless money from heaven falls out of the sky, or all teachers agree to a 20 percent pay cut, or Homer Electric Association agrees to charge us less for heat. Every year the sky is falling and I hate it.”

School board member Sunni Hilts disagreed with Castimore. The school board has to identify the essential basic needs of the schools and make sure those are provided.

“Last year we did it (made cuts) so ethically and effectively,” Hilts said. “It still didn’t have a good effect.”

Atwater said last year’s budget process was frustrating when the Kenai Peninsula Borough did not fund to the cap.

“We showed the borough we tightened our belt and hoped the borough would spend more money,” Atwater said.

In January the school board will also be entering negotiations with the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, which represents the certified teachers in the district, Jones said. The board will also be meeting with the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association, which represents support staff, he said.

Negotiations are scheduled every three years, but it adds another question mark to the annual mix this year, Arness said.

It is too early to tell, not only what funding will come from the borough, but also what will be coming from the state, Arness said. There isn’t a sense among the board members yet if there will be staffing cuts again, he said.

The question Arness posed to the board was whether or not they wanted to wait to create the budget until funding was announced from the state and borough, or move forward and start looking at the room for changes that can be made right now.

“We can take our best guess at what we think it is going to cost us,” Arness said.


Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

Central Emergency Services staff wait to receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna, borough to continue 911 dispatch partnership

The assembly approved an agreement Tuesday

Alaska State Troopers logo.
ATV accident leaves teen dead in Ninilchik

A 15-year-old girl was driving an ATV with a 14-year-old female passenger

Cook Inlet can be seen at low tide from North Kenai Beach on June 15, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Comment period on proposed Cook Inlet lease sale opens Friday

Cook Inlet is one of 11 locations described in the department’s Proposed Program for the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program

Pottery pieces are displayed as a part of the Kenai Potters’ Guild July show at the Kenai Art Center on Tuesday, July 5, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Throwing together

Potters’ Guild artists show off their clay creations

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire
This photo shows boats moored at Don D. Statter Harbor on a recent sunny day. According to statistics recently release by the U.S. Coast Guard, boating accidents were down in Alaska in 2021.
Boating fatalities trending down for 2021

Numbers met expectations, said safety instructors

Fishermen took to the mouth of the Kasilof River for opening day of dipnetting, on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion file)
Kasilof dipnetting expanded, sockeye catch upped

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued multiple advisory announcements for sport anglers and dipnetters

Signs warn Fred Meyer customers to prepay if they thing they may go over limits while pumping gas on Friday, March 11, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Analysis: Inflation is up in Alaska

Alaska’s 2021 average inflation rate was the largest annual price increase since 1990

Mount Redoubt can be seen acoss Cook Inlet from North Kenai Beach on Thursday, July 2, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Offshore oil plan envisions a single Cook Inlet sale

The proposed 2023-2028 plan is similar to the just-ended Obama administration five-year plan

People line the streets in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022 for the annual Independence Day parade. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Red, white and blue all day

Kenai turns out for parade, activities to celebrate Independence Day

Most Read