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$1.24 million to be cut from 2015 school budget

Staff cuts, salaries and benefits are likely target

Posted: September 21, 2013 - 6:27pm  |  Updated: September 22, 2013 - 9:25am

To get through the 2013-2014 school-year, the Kenai Peninsula School District took $1.24 million from its savings.

Now, to make up for that deficit spending, the district will look to cut $1.24 million in 2015 — the likely target of those cuts will be salaries and benefits.

The Kenai Peninsula School Board is expected to direct the administration to cut next year’s budget by the amount of $1.24 million when they prepare next year’s budget. A starting point of those projected cuts will likely be found in the largest piece of the pie — salaries and benefits.

“That will then be our starting point,” Kenai Peninsula School District Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones said Thursday.

The board recognized that the district is spending more money than it has, and, while it can’t keep spending, the district needs to reduce the budget so it does not get to the point where it has no fund balance left and it has to make big cuts instead of making more reasoned reductions, Jones said

“When you spend 82 percent of your budget in salaries and benefits, when you go to cut, your going to need to address those areas,” Jones said.

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President Neil Denny said that Kenai Peninsula School District Superintendent Steve Atwater last week told the union that the cuts would likely not impact tenured certified teaching staff, beyond those lost to attrition and the small percentage of teachers that leave the district each year on their own.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that will be the case,” Denny said.

What does worry the union is Atwater’s careful wording, which did not include classified staff such as custodians, nurses, secretaries and paraprofessionals that work with teachers in special education classes. Losses of those positions can create a great deal of heartache, Denny said.

“That’s a huge concern for us,” Denny said.

Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association President Patty Sirois said that her organization had not yet had the chance to speak with Atwater about pending cuts or know what those proposed cuts might look like for support staff.

“In the past support staff have suffered the loss of positions and hours,” Sirois said. “Of course, we hope that won’t be the case in 2015.”

That the cuts were pending first emerged to the public during a presentation at the Sept. 3 Kenai Borough Assembly meeting, during which Atwater told the assembly that the district used a “pre-audited amount” of $1.24 million from its reserves for district operations. The amount on the books this fall will likely be $738,000 used of reserves, he said.

“That is because the borough did not use the in-kind budgeted money for maintenance,” Atwater said, explaining that the money comes back to the district and is accounted for as a fund balance.

“The district will reduce its expenditures for the next year by that amount,” Atwater said. “It is a significant change that has not been done in a while.”

Also part of the budget issue is that student enrollment continues to decline. The final student numbers for the current school year will come from a four-week October count, which starts next month.

Last week, Jones explained that the proposed budget recommendations for the next school year will be given to the school board sometime in January, with more details following in February.

“By law, by April we have to pass a budget and move it to the borough assembly to have them act on it,” he said.

The $1.24 million cut is in reference to the 2015 budget. Work on that budget has been started, Jones said.

The school board looked at the FY13 budget’s projection of revenue and expenditures and then the actual picture, Jones said.

“What really happened was when we looked at the revenues that we got and the expenditures that we controlled; the district spent $1.246 million dollars more in FY13 than we received,” he said. “That was the actual deficit instead of projected.”

The district had a real deficit of $1.24 million in FY13. The district needs to start addressing the problem because it does not have limitless fund balance, he said.

The school board wants the district, at the beginning of the FY15 budget process, to look forward and address the issue. Basically, the district will ask the same question it does every year.

“What would happen if we moved the budget forward based on the same needs that we have, how much would that cost?” Jones asked.

The district has formulas in place to determine the student to teacher ratio. The formulas for each building then help the district plan for teachers.

With cuts, Jones said, the district has looked at areas for efficiency and in the non-instructional areas.

“So what we will probably have to look at is how can we adjust these staffing formulas to reduce the amount of staff that we have,” he said.

Jones said while cuts are not easy, the focus is on the students.

“That is the process that we are looking at right now and trying to work with is if we adjust these and make cuts that we need to, how can we do that with the least effect to the student in the classroom?” he said.

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JohnPeterZenger 09/22/13 - 11:20 am
State Funds declining?

We could adequately finance our education needs.

But no, Parnell and some oiled legislators figured the oil corporations should get a few billion dollars for nothing.

When these oil corporations are reaping the highest profits they've ever gained, Alaska should also be profiting in the way of taxes and royalties.

But no, Parnell and the oiled Republicans decided oil corporation record profits should mean we give those corporations even more free money.

We could finance education for our children, but corporate oil executives need the billions we're giving them.

Dump Parnell, dump the oiled Republicans, and repeal the oil tax 'giveaway'.

Do it for all the right reasons.

Parnell and the oiled legislators tell us we need to get ready for more 'belt-tightening', ...yes, because Parnell and the oiled legislators are giving away billions of dollars we could have used for the needs of our own residents.

We don't have a million for education, but we can give away 8 or 10 billion no strings attached.

Republican failed policy at work.

Our children should come first, our own citizen's needs should come first, ...not some band of outlandishly wealthy fat cat oil executives.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 09/24/13 - 03:26 pm
Where have I heard/read our

Where have I heard/read our citizens should come first before others? I know it was Paul's letter about disasters & giving money to every one in the world other than American's that need it.
I agree we could have the best schools in ALL the world, but we don't and it's all due to the agenda of 'All children left behind' programs which finance every thing else in the world while pretending to care about education.
This is a major disaster for all of us. But who is to blame when each political party has their own agenda and pour trillions into them rather than into America.
Republicans have oil & gas that they pour Trillions into, Democrats have Freedom Fighters and the Muslim Brotherhood and Obama Care that they pour Trillions into.
Yep! It's the Republicans fault alright. I knew it would be immediately when I read this decrease article on school spending. Good thing all the Democrat states are having no problems with their educational spending programs and their kids are all excelling far above Alaska's kids.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 09/24/13 - 03:42 pm
Oh! I do agree that we could

Oh! I do agree that we could have the best FREE education along with the best of many other social programs if our politicians would stop kissing up to oil & gas company's as well as other buddy back scratching systems.
Don't even get me started on the never ending wasted money spent on roads that don't last more than a few months and we never learn to go a different direction to stop the madness here either.

JohnPeterZenger 09/25/13 - 12:32 am
Don't get you started?

Rather was hoping you might stop.

Now you're responding to your own posts.

Watchman on the Wall
Watchman on the Wall 09/25/13 - 09:17 am
Yep! I reread the above posts

Yep! I reread the above posts and it was I, JPZ that went off on Republican oil & gas. I did not realize that I was you and you was me. I really don't think you want me to stop, because then you would be back to talking to your self as you have over the last few month. Of course you have a few replies like I agree and LMAO, but not much more than that from a few. This may be why you continually change the names you blog under to try & restart your same old super knowledge war against all other opinions with yours being the only correct one.
As for this article, it is an article right? Alaska could excel in every area of life for a better society with OUR natural resources revenue, if it were not for those leaders which follow their own sensuality and greedy lust for more for them selves while continuously spreading lies of things getting better if they are allowed their way. All lies to mislead the unstable voters who believe them about going down a wide path of prosperity, which in fact is a wide path of destruction creating more trouble than our first estate. Vote for me and things will be better and they never are no matter the party. How can they be better? With all most all morals gone astray due too our moral compass being stomped on by people wanting it their way to the point of no one knows which way is right any more. All this while we wonder why we go in circles and reelect the very ones we hate and complain about and how can it get any better when the same actions produce the same results?
Please vote Oct. 1 to keep this circle going.
Have a GR8 day and remember who loves you.

JohnPeterZenger 09/25/13 - 10:34 am
Raoulduke 09/26/13 - 06:03 am

Is the budget maximum allowed by law not enough,or should someone work out a true budget?You know -bean counting.There could be some savings with a more efficient spending,and no loss of personnel,or education quality.Contract a non-partisan private accountant.There may be some surprises to the positive.

JohnPeterZenger 09/27/13 - 08:15 pm
What makes you think there isn't a 'true' budget.

You ask a question, and then make a statement that relies on an unsupported supposition.

In accounting, the numbers either equal out or they don't, it's not a matter where anything changes by hiring a private accountant.

You say 'there may be some surprises', yet you offer no evidence to support any of your assumptions.

More efficient spending is a talking point. It doesn't necessarily mean one thing or another, it's an empty phrase thrown about most often by those who don't take the time to learn actual details.

There 'could be' some more efficient spending?

Prove that point if you're going to make it. Make the case where there are specific itemized spending examples that you can improve on.

Don't just guess that some talking point might apply to any given situation.

Talking points rarely have any bearing on reality.

Talking points are designed to deceive, they are crafted as subterfuge.

Why choose to adopt deceptive means when honesty is the more prudent choice?

If you're not certain of something, don't throw out random talking points, take the time to learn what it is you don't know.

That old adage applies here, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

We don't need unfounded assumptions and meaningless talking points driving public policy decisions, we get enough of that from the RandLibertarians and theTeapublicans.

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