KIBSD begins budget talks for next school year

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The Kodiak Island Borough School District [KIBSD] could face a deficit of millions of dollars this year without an increase in state education funding. 

Cyndy Mika is the district’s superintendent. She said they’re still putting together priorities for a first draft of a budget for the 2024-2025 school year. 

“This way of doing it, where everything’s up in the air, you’re just guessing at this point what your revenue is going to be,” she said. “You’re guessing what the borough’s going to get you, you’re guessing what the legislation is going to do. It makes it very difficult.”

The Board of Education’s meetings and work sessions are generally held in the district’s central offices. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

The Alaska State Legislature approved a one-time education funding increase last year, but that boost was slashed in half after a line-item veto from Governor Mike Dunleavy. Dunleavy published his draft FY’25 budget last month, but did not include any increases for education funding.

Mika said that left her with little hope for a funding boost this year. 

“We’ve already bare boned it to our other costs,” she said. “There’s not too much more supply money to go away – we’re already there. So it has to come in positional costs.”

The superintendent said there’s only so many positions they can cut before it affects the quality of the education they can provide. 

Mika said they’re trying to plan next year’s budget without any one time funding increases, without any additional funds from the Kodiak Island Borough, and trying to do so without dipping into their fund balance, or savings. 

But the money has to come from somewhere. At a previous work session, cutting a choir teaching position was on the Board’s docket until several residents stepped up to share the importance of the music program.

Another idea presented was to cut administrative positions like staff psychologists. Duncan Fields is on the district’s Board of Education and said he doesn’t like the idea of layoffs, but he doesn’t see a lot of other options. 

Duncan Fields has served on the Board of Education for years. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

“We heard from our community,” he said. “If it’s not a music teacher, then it needs to be a ___ and probably three or four of those blanks. I’m in no way wanting to cut counseling service, but we have to present a balanced budget.” 

The school district’s staff spent three meetings so far, presenting their highest hopes for funding as well as any room for creating more efficiency while maintaining quality of service. If the district funded every project in full, they would have to spend over 10-million-dollars more than what they’re counting on, or up to $54,590,280. The district is estimating they will only receive about $44,546,718.

Mika said at this point she has no idea what KIBSD’s final budget will look like. 

“I’ve gone through it now one year with the veto – I’ve never been through that before in my educational career,” she said. “And so that was a first for me. This year I want to be optimistic, but having lived through a governor’s veto already on one-time funding, I just don’t know.”

The school district’s next Board of Education meeting is January 22. 

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