School District Still Tackling FY 13 Budget

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Jennifer Canfield/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly will vote tomorrow on the minimum level of funding for education. After $854,000 in cuts, the Kodiak Island Borough School District is hoping that the borough will fund to the $10.3 million cap. The school district’s budget is about a half million more than last year’s though- as school officials say- it’s not nearly enough to cover increasing costs.

During this year’s session, legislators decided against increasing the base student allocation. The BSA is money allocated per pupil for three years. As a kind of compromise they awarded schools one-time funding for transportation, vocational education and to take some of the financial burden off boroughs across the state.

Melissa Borton is the president of the school board. She says the money is needed but so is consistency.

"The state came out very early on not sounding like they were willing to increase the base student allocation but were looking at one-time funding. Well, one-time funding is good to some extent. It does give us money that we need at this time, but it doesn’t give us any long term planning."

And funding from the borough is another issue. Since 2009 the assembly has voted to flat fund the school district. With inflation and increased costs, flat funding essentially translates to less money for teachers.

"If we continue on the road of flat funding, we’ll be having these discussions every year. So, from our perspective we are looking at long term planning. We’re looking at Kodiak’s instructional model right now and what does the community for education and how can we deliver that with the reduced funding that we’re getting every year."

Earlier this year parents of Main Elementary students had to address the possibility of their school closing. The school district was wrestling with a $3.5 million budget shortfall. After a month of worry, the threat of Main closing went away. School officials learned that some additional funding from the Legislature would be coming, though not enough to cover the entire shortfall. Some community members were upset over the panic it caused, but Borton says these kinds of things are unavoidable.

"From our perspective we have to look at all options of, "What are we going to do if we end up in April if we end up with a $3.5 million shortfall?" We have to come up with some pretty aggressive means to reduce the budget. Main was simply something we were talking about at that time because their budget was roughly around $3 million. It’s certainly not a fun conversation to have. I can’t even sit here today and tell you that it’s not going to come back up again."

You can find a link to the school district’s proposed FY 13 budget on our website at here.

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