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School board to OK budget

District still hoping for help from Legislature

Posted: Monday, April 02, 2007

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is scheduled to take action on the budget for the 2007-08 school year at its meeting tonight at the Borough Building in Soldotna.

In a memo to the school board prepared by the district’s chief financial officer, Melody Douglas, the district administration recommends the board allocate $2.1 million from the district’s fund balance to bring the $113.4 million budget into balance “until such time as the legislative impact of educational funding is known for FY08.”

The budget still includes a significant reduction in staff -- 75 teachers districtwide, including 15 due to the district’s declining enrollment and 60 due to budget constraints. Cutting teachers also means an increase of four in the pupil:teacher ratio.

“Ideally, legislative action will allow reinstatement of staffing formulas to current levels and review of the initiatives presented in the FY08 preliminary budget,” Douglas wrote.

Should the Legislature approve changes in the way it funds public education in Alaska, the budget would be revised. Reinstating the current year’s PTR would require an additional $5 million in funding from the Legislature; a number of other items, such as Workforce Development Center expansion, middle school literacy coaches and elementary paraprofessionals, are on the district’s wish list should additional funding become available.

Other items the board will take into consideration as the budget is revised include adjustments to retirement system contribution rates; utility rates; changes to school configurations and staffing formulas; the results of a review of students transportation currently under way; and adjustments from the borough budget process.

The board and district administration will get an update from Juneau as a conference call with peninsula legislators has been scheduled for a work session prior to the board’s 7 p.m. meeting. Other work session items include a review of proposed regulations governing hearing for nontenured teachers who aren’t rehired; a presentation on the public school land trust in Alaska; a review of the district’s new wellness policy; and an update on the Sears and Mountain View elementary schools consolidation process. The work sessions begin at 3:15 p.m.

During the regular meeting, the board also will hear a first reading of changes to the field trip policy. Changes include language to define what constitutes a school-sponsored trip and additional guidelines for out-of-state and international travel. The school board has discussed the district’s field trip policy and philosophy on several occasions in the past year.

Will Morrow can be reached at will.morrow@peninsulaclarion.com



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