School district looks for savings

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, March 5, 2015 9:49pm
  • News

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administration is suggesting staffing cuts, shifting to online curriculum and reducing the utility budget as a way to minimize expenses in 2016.

The proposed savings are just more than $1.6 million, said Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones. He presented the list of possibilities to the Board of Education during a work session Monday.

Reconfiguring staffing in school district pools, custodial and secretary positions, and certified teachers are possibilities, Jones said. Reducing and consolidating positions in these areas could save $1 million, he said.

“Whenever you are talking about people’s jobs, it’s very significant,” Jones said. “There are no numbers on how many jobs yet.”

Jones said the school district’s curriculum department is looking into what options there may be for moving educational materials online. That would likely involve switching out classroom books for similar information on accredited websites, he said.

Mild weather the past few winters has resulted in less need to use the money budgeted for utilities, Jones said. Tweaking that funding could save $550,000, he said.

No action was taken during Monday’s work session, and Jones left with a laundry list of items that require more detail before any decisions are made.

The amount the school board will request from the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is still up for debate as well, Jones said.

With an increasing likelihood that Gov. Bill Walker will cut one-time education funding, previously included in the state’s budget for education, costing the school district nearly $2.3 million, the projected deficit will reach $8.8 million, Jones said.

The one-time funding cut on the state level also translates to potential cuts on the borough level, Jones said. The maximum allowable contribution the borough can now make could decrease by an additional $520,487, he said.

During his presentation, Jones included information about the school district’s graduation rates, which have consistently increased since 2008, with a jump from 72 percent in 2011 to 78 percent in 2012.

The percentage is based on a computer adjusted graduation rate designed by the U.S. Department of Education, Jones said. The rate is determined by dividing the number of students earning a regular diploma by the number of ninth graders in the school district four years ago, plus the number of students that transferred in, minus those who left the school district since, he said.

“We are now afraid if we have to make staffing cuts, we will see those numbers decrease,” Jones said.

The school district will be using the $2.6 million that remains from funding set aside in the general fund for health care, Jones said. Other than those funds, nothing has been finalized about next year’s budget, he said.

On March 17, the school board will have a joint work session with the borough assembly, Jones said. The school board will meet beforehand in a separate work session to discuss any new information, he said.

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

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