School district could have significantly larger budget deficit

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Sunday, April 17, 2016 11:34pm
  • News

A few bills could still have a significant impact on the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s deficit spending next year. Administrators calculate an additional $3.5 million in expenses next year if the Legislature votes to raise employer contributions for the Alaska Teachers’ Retirement and Public Employee’s Retirement systems.

The total increase equates to 40 teaching positions, which may be at risk if Senate Bills 207 and 209 pass this legislative session.

“On behalf of the school district, I would not be in favor of this bill due to the impact to the district, especially with the language of intent to fund from the legislature,” said Sean Dusek, school district superintendent. “This is a state program that was mismanaged last decade by the state. The bill is a cost shift which would have a large negative impact to the classroom.”

He added that the administrators recommended, and the Board of Education already approved, a $3.5 million reduction in spending for the 2017 school year from the 2016 school year. Dusek said he has informed all staff about the potential impact, and in the mean time has given testimony against the bills.

The teaching positions at risk would be in addition to nearly 12 full-time certified staff and 10 full-time non-certified staff cuts approved when the board passed the 2017 Operating Budget on Monday, April 4.

At that meeting the board put back 13 full-time positions into the budget that administrators had proposed for cuts back in February. Those 13 positions would be in addition to the 40 at risk if the 6.44 percent or $3 million hike in TRS and 2.5 percent or $436,584 increase in PERS contributions are passed, totaling a potential loss of 75 positions next year.

“We have supported the state in other ways to promote a sustainable fiscal plan by not only becoming more efficient through reductions, but also engaging all of our communities in the conversation on multiple occasions,” Dusek said.

The school district has been tracking the PERS and TRS bills since they were introduced, said Pegge Erkeneff, school district spokesperson.

“There is a process and life cycle for all bills,” she said. “KPBSD stays in close contact with our legislators, testifies when needed, and provides facts about bills that the district supports, is neutral about or still assessing, or opposes.”

If passed, the bills would increase contributions to TRS by more than 80 percent by 2019, and more than 75 percent to PERS by 2018.

“The district is following the bills closely, and in close contact with our legislators,” Erkeneff said.

So far, the two bills have not been scheduled for committee hearings.

The current scheduled deficit spending for the school district is just more than $200,000. According to an April 1 school district press release, collective bargaining between the school district, Kenai Peninsula Education and Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations is still ongoing, and still has the potential to increase the deficit.

The House, Senate and Gov. Bill Walker all have so far included a $50 increase to the Base Student Allocation in the Foundation Formula that determines how much a school district receives in state funding per enrolled student each year. If kept in the budget that could mean an additional $886,375 in funding for the school district, according to the release.


Reach Kelly Sullivan

More in News

The waters of Cook Inlet lap against Nikishka Beach in Nikiski, Alaska, where several local fish sites are located, on Friday, March 24, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Unprecedented closures threaten setnet way of life

Setnetters have been vocal about their opposition to the way their fishery is managed

Legislative fiscal analysts Alexei Painter, right, and Conor Bell explain the state’s financial outlook during the next decade to the Senate Finance Committee on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Legislators eye oil and sales taxes due to fiscal woes

Bills to collect more from North Slope producers, enact new sales taxes get hearings next week.

Expert skateboarder Di’Orr Greenwood, an artist born and raised in the Navajo Nation in Arizona and whose work is featured on the new U.S. stamps, rides her skateboard next to her artworks in the Venice Beach neighborhood in Los Angeles Monday, March 20, 2023. On Friday, March 24, the U.S. Postal Service is debuting the “Art of the Skateboard,” four stamps that will be the first to pay tribute to skateboarding. The stamps underscore how prevalent skateboarding has become, especially in Indian Country, where the demand for designated skate spots has only grown in recent years. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Indigenous artists help skateboarding earn stamp of approval

The postal agency ceremoniously unveiled the “Art of the Skateboard” stamps in a Phoenix skate park

Bruce Jaffa, of Jaffa Construction, speaks to a group of students at Seward High School’s Career Day on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward students talk careers at fair

More than 50 businesses were represented

Alaska state Sen. Bert Stedman, center, a co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee, listens to a presentation on the major North Slope oil project known as the Willow project on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. The committee heard an update on the project from the state Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Revenue. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Official: Willow oil project holds promise, faces obstacles

State tax officials on Thursday provided lawmakers an analysis of potential revenue impacts and benefits from the project

Jerry Burnett, chair of the Board of Game, speaks during their Southcentral meeting on Friday, March 17, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Board of Game decides on local proposals

Trapping setbacks, archery hunts and duck restrictions were up for consideration

Audre Hickey testifies in opposition to an ordinance that would implement a citywide lewdness prohibition in Soldotna during a city council meeting on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council kills citywide lewdness ordinance

The decision followed lengthy public comment

Samantha Springer, left, and Michelle Walker stand in the lobby of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Springer named new head of Kenai chamber

Springer, who was raised in Anchorage, said she’s lived on the Kenai Peninsula since 2021

Forever Dance performers rehearse “Storytellers” on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Storytellers’ weave tales with their feet

Dance and literature intersect in latest Forever Dance showcase

Most Read