Borough update: education funding passed, Service District 2 saved, and cooperative committee formed with city

The Borough Assembly has approved $10.5 million for the Kodiak Island Borough School District for the next school year. This is about half a million less than what the school district had requested, but nearly $1 million more than they received last year.

Some Assembly members, such as Duane Dvorak supported funding to the school district’s $11 million request due to the considerable challenges the schools and students faced this past year.

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Dvorak: “How to get students back up to speed. Part of that will be summer school, but other parts will be intensive, working with students during the course of this next year, as kind of a rebound year to get everybody back up to speed.”

Others proposed flat funding the school district to the tune of $9 million to avoid an increase to property taxes.

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Assembly member Julie Kavanaugh said, “One of the reasons I don’t feel comfortable continuing to up-fund the school district is our ongoing lack of a solution for school bond debt. It was reduced and taken away from us finally. In my opinion, that is why there aren’t as many funds available to the school district.”

Kavanaugh added that the borough should add funds to the school district budget if they get reimbursed for bond debt.

But funding the school district and paying bond debt are two different things, as Assembly member Geoff Smith, a school district employee, explained.

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“School district operations and school bond debt are two separate things that seem to get lumped together by this body. This is the only body that lumps those two items together. Operations were going on long before this community took a vote to build a new high school. It was an obligation of this assembly to fund schools prior to the commitment to incur bond debt.”

Ultimately, the Assembly met in the middle, agreeing on $10.5 million proposed by Scott Arndt and additional funds of up to nearly $700,000 if the state restores bond debt reimbursement. The Assembly will meet again on June 3rd to consider their annual budget and any property tax increase.

In addition to passing education funding, the assembly took action on two more items they had been considering for some time. The proposal to abolish Service District 2 was halted, as many residents, such as Fred Roberts, spoke to oppose the ordinance.

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“Service District 2 is definitely not dead. I urge you to vote no. Keep it on the books. It doesn’t cost a penny to do that.”

And the Assembly formally joined the Cooperative Relations Committee with the City. This committee is charged with coordinating resources and services between the two local governments.

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