KIBSD to lose teachers and other staff despite potential increase to BSA

The first draft of the Kodiak Island Borough School District’s budget includes staff and funding cuts for the upcoming school year. It comes at the same time as the State Legislature approved a bill to increase education funding – although it’s unclear whether it will ultimately be signed into law by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. 

As KMXT’s Brian Venua reports, that money could bring some much-needed relief, but the district isn’t counting on it. 

The Kodiak Island Borough School District’s central offices on a snowy February day. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

The State Legislature’s education bill would increase funding by about $680 per student through the base student allocation, or BSA. That would mean the Kodiak Island Borough School District could see over a million dollars headed its way in fiscal year 2025.

Right now, the Kodiak Island Borough School District is planning to use about $2.6 million from its fund balance, or savings, to help pay for next school year. That’s after reducing the district’s budget from last year by about: $4.3 million. 

Cyndy Mika is the district superintendent. She said the funding boost, known as Senate Bill 140, would make future budget planning easier, but this year’s cuts will go through regardless. 

“I am cautiously optimistic about the bill – I think it does a lot,” she said. “For us, it helps stabilize us a little bit – gives me a little bit of breathing room. But the reductions that we have laid out are still going to go forward.” 

Cyndy Mika has been the district’s superintendent since 2022. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Mika said she’s trying to be realistic about how to best plan for next school year. 

“The governor, even if he signed the law, or lets Senate Bill 140 go into law, he still has the ability after the appropriations in June to line-item veto the money to the bill,” she said. 

It wouldn’t be the first time the governor vetoed education money. Dunleavy slashed a one-time education funding boost in half last summer after it was approved by the Legislature. 

But budget cuts are just one part of the solution – Kodiak’s school district is also looking at cutting staff, like laying off the current choir director, to make ends meet.

Mika said some of the proposed cuts to Kodiak’s school budget have been controversial at previous meetings and work sessions.

The district will also reduce the number of coaches it hires down to one each for several sports, like middle school volleyball, high school cross country and dance. Mika said the district is in a tough spot because they’re trying not to lose any programs. 

“That’s why they [students] come to school – not just for the core academics,” she said. “So what could we do so that we didn’t have to completely cancel one program? And so that’s where we looked this year was across the board, everything, without losing a program.” 

The district will also cut several administrative positions, like the assistant chief financial officer, and even a counselor position. 

Mika said the district would need about double the amount the Legislature has approved so far to avoid cutting staff, or about $1,300 added to the BSA. But she said she’s not sure every position would come back, even if the district was fully funded. 

“I don’t think we need to bring back every position, we are a shrinking enrollment, and some of these positions were in direct correlation to that,” she said. “The three elementary positions were [cut] because we didn’t have the students to fill up those classrooms.”

Despite the cuts, the district will stay within its ideal pupil to teacher ratios. 

The proposed education bill, S.B. 140, was approved by the Alaska Senate earlier this week, and is due back from the governor by Mar. 14. 

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