KIBSD approves new budget after education funding cuts

Kodiak’s school board approved a new budget on Monday, after taking a hit of about $1.8 million after Gov. Mike Dunleavy slashed the one-time funding approved by the state legislature in half. 

No staff positions are being cut this year and the district is instead reducing their budget for supplies by about $600,000. Another $500,000 will come out of the district’s savings, or fund balance. The rest of the deficit is spread across maintenance and school activities. 

The Kodiak High School is mostly empty for the summer, June 23, 2023. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Cyndy Mika is the school district’s superintendent. She said it’s a big challenge for schools to avoid layoffs. 

“80% of our budget is in personnel,” she said. “And so when you take almost a $2 million cut in state funding and it has to come out of anything that’s not personnel related – any funds that isn’t personnel related took a cut.” 

Some of the first noticeable changes will take effect when the district sends out school supply lists for parents. The district will also likely charge activity fees for extracurriculars that cost the district money. 

“We were attempting to put in school supplies (so) that parents wouldn’t have to buy school supplies,” Mika said. “We’ve been doing that with CARES (Act) money.” 

The CARES Act, or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, gave schools and businesses federal money to stimulate the economy during the pandemic. But with that funding running out and a reduced budget, buying supplies for students is no longer possible. Staff will also have to make-do with fewer office supplies as well. Both students and staff will also have reduced travel budgets. 

Mika said maintenance staff are also seeing a huge cut next year. Their budget for contracting tradespeople like plumbers and electricians was reduced by about $250,000. Another $170,000 set aside for maintenance equipment was also cut.

The fund balance is absorbing a large chunk of the deficit this year too, but that money won’t last forever. Mika said this could be the last year before the district is forced to look at layoffs and cutting jobs. 

“It’s going to be almost impossible to make further cuts into anything that’s not personnel,” she said. “We have such a tight and slim budget right now. It’s going to be really difficult to make it through the school year.”

In its new budget, KIBSD will be using about half of what’s left in their fund balance – about $2.5 million. If the state doesn’t increase funding next year, the district would face a deficit of about $5 million. The school board will begin looking at next year’s budget in September. 

 

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