Kids are back to school in Kodiak. Middle and high school students had their first day on Monday, with elementary kids back Tuesday this week. But, budget cuts over the summer mean school — and parent spending — look a little different this year.
The Kodiak Island Borough School District was counting on a one-time funding boost approved by the State Legislature earlier this year. But then Governor Dunleavy slashed it in half this summer.
For Kodiak, that meant the district had to chop about $2 million from its budget.
Superintendent Cyndy Mika said one of the immediate changes is that parents are expected to buy school supplies for the first time since the pandemic. The district had covered those expenses the last few years through federal funding like COVID relief money.
“It was our hope to continue that one more year, but with the cuts that we had to make to our supply budget after the one time funding was cut,” Mika said. “We weren’t able to do that this year and so we did publish our school supply lists and let the parents know that that would be a responsibility for their students.”
Some community members however have stepped up on social media to purchase supplies and give them to school officials to distribute or give to kids directly. Supply lists for each grade can be found on the district’s website. Donations can be brought to schools or the district office.
Mika said Kodiak middle and high school students will also notice their classes are a bit bigger this year.
“We are trying to go up to our 30 student to one teacher cap that the board’s adopted,” she said. “Even though that’s been there for a while, we haven’t had to go up to that. Elementary should pretty much stay the same.”
Another change in finances is activity fees. For years, parent’s haven’t had to pay the fees that help sports and clubs pay for things like travel, uniforms and equipment.
“During the pandemic, the district paid 100% of those fees with our federal funding and then this year, we’re going to pay 50% of the fees, the parents will pay 50%, and then next year parents will step up to 100%,” Mika said.
Outside of budget cuts, high school students will see changes to the district’s cell phone policy. Teachers are expected to enforce a no cell phone policy during instructional time. The district also has 28 new teachers, six of whom are from The Philippines.