School board to consider budget, consolidations again

Touchy issues to top talks

Posted: Monday, February 03, 2003

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is working its way through a couple of outstanding issues this week, as it prepares for its twice-monthly work sessions and meeting today.

But while the board will conduct work sessions on both the fiscal year 2004 budget and a preliminary idea for consolidating schools, no action is planned on either issue.

The school board will start its typical afternoon of work sessions that are part of its ongoing cycle of policy and curriculum reviews. Today at 1:30 p.m., the board will discuss the community relations section of the district policy manual, and at 2:30 p.m., the board will discuss the science curriculum for the district.

The meetings will continue at 3:30 p.m. with a board conference call to state legislators to discuss education-related bills before the Legislature.

At 4 p.m., the board will take on a more complex issue with a discussion of the 2004 budget. The preliminary budget for the district was introduced to the board at its last meeting, Jan. 6, and was about $2.9 million short in revenue. It has been presented to the community in several public hearings throughout the peninsula, and today, the board will discuss the community's feedback in looking for ways to trim the budget.

"Some of the things the community suggested were that we look at other areas, such as districtwide programming to make sure it still continues to be needed," Melody Douglas, the district's chief financial officer, said Thursday. "With technology, maybe the delivery of services by different means would be more appropriate."

Douglas said the community also suggested the board look at the formula for support staff assignments in the district -- the formula for certified staff already has been revised to increase the pupil-teacher ratio -- and at the structure of staffing in administrative offices.

"We'll be discussing a variety of issues with the board and hopefully receiving some direction," Douglas said.

Following the budget discussion at 5 p.m., the board will conduct a work session on the preliminary plan to consolidate schools in the district. The plan, which also was introduced to the board Jan. 6, suggests several different options for consolidating schools, for reasons ranging from financial savings to the opportunity to provide more comprehensive academic programs for students.

Members of the board and district administration repeatedly have asserted that the plan is just an idea, and no action is planned in the near future.

The ideas were taken before the community throughout the month of January, and the board will discuss feedback at its work session today, as well as determine whether the plan should be shelved or conversation should continue.

"No action is planned. This is just continued conversation concerning the preliminary report," Douglas said. "At this point, there is no recommendation for any closures."

At 7:30 p.m., the board will begin its regular meeting. Items on the agenda include a midyear progress report on board goals by superintendent Donna Peterson; the December financial report and quarterly budget transfer report; approval of new teacher assignments and long-term substitute teacher contracts; appropriation of monies for district charter schools; and an administrative recommendation regarding a staff resignation.

Board work sessions and meetings are held in the assembly chambers at the Borough Building at 147 N. Binkley St. in Soldotna. Work sessions are open to the public, but no public comment is taken.

The board meeting also is open to the public, and individuals are invited to respond to action items when appropriate and are free to speak on any topic not on the agenda during limited public presentation periods throughout the meeting.

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