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School district works on budget

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2008

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District (KPBSD) has finished the preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2009.

District administrators anticipate substantial funding from the local government as well as increased funding from the state, based on Gov. Sarah Palin's budget proposal to the Legislature.

In the past, the borough has funded schools "at the cap," meaning that it allocates the maximum amount of funds to the district that is allowed. The new budget includes the same amount from the local government that was allocated last year, but this number must be approved by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly before the amount is finalized.

For the current year, the state's base student allocation is $5,380, which the governor has proposed to increase by $200 to $5,580. Her proposal also includes a district cost factor of 1.088 percent for KPBSD, which includes a phasing in of 50 percent of the cost factor recommended in a study done by the Institute of Social and Economic Research. This funding is contingent on legislative approval.

"The school district has built it's budget based on the governor's recommendation which includes more funding," said Melody Douglas, chief financial officer for the district. "This isn't guaranteed because it has to go through the legislative process."

Enrollment projection for next year is 8,963 students. This accounts for a 2 percent decline in enrollment, keeping in line with the trend over last 10 years. There has also been an anticipated reduction of an additional 2 percent due to the closure of the Agrium facility, but this reduction is still being assessed to determine it's accuracy.

"Since revenue is derived from students, we want to make sure we have an accurate number," Douglas said.

A budget increase has been added to account for a new staffing formula for grades four through six in order to reduce pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) in those grades by two students. With this increase, PTR in grades four through six is set at 1:24, secondary schools at 1:23, first through third grades at 1:22, kindergartens at 1:20, small schools with more than 100 students at 1:22, and schools with less than 100 students at 1:19.

Utility costs account for 6.89 percent of next year's budget. In an attempt to reduce the long-term cost of utilities, KPBSD has hired an energy conservation manager to help schools become more efficient.

According to Douglas, the goal is to get as much money as possible into the classroom to serve the students rather than spending it on lighting and heating costs.

The proposed budget also accounts for an enrollment projection of more than 10 at Hope School, which would be a large enough number to for the school to receive state funding to keep the school open.

Hannahlee Allers can be reached at hannahlee.allers@peninsulaclarion.com



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