School board holding off on final budget

Posted: Monday, April 04, 2005

Due to a gap between proposed state education funding and the financial needs of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Chief Financial Officer Melody Douglas will recommend the board remain in a budget "holding pattern" until state legislators reach a funding outcome.

House Bill 2 passed the House and Senate with a base student allocation of $4,733 — though there still remains a possibility, before the budget is finally approved, that the base number may drop to $4,919, far below the required $4,995 needed for the peninsula district to operate, according to Douglas.

"We don't want to have to pink-slip our teachers. We're saying we'll stand by until we know more," she said.

A finance memorandum from Douglas said additional funds from education funding could be allocated to address the 5 percent incremental employer rate increase in effect for the Public Employee Retirement System and Teachers Retirement System (PERS and TRS).

"This expectation is the basis for the administrative recommendation to proceed with the fiscal year 2006 budget plan as previously presented for now," the memorandum stated.

Superintendent Donna Peterson said the link legislators have made between PERS and TRS and current education funding makes little sense. Under the education funding bill, schools would lose $38 million if a retirement reform bill does not pass.

"We sure don't like being held hostage by PERS and TRS. Everyone on PERS is police and fire department employees. That doesn't have anything to do with education," Peterson said.

The school board and administration will discuss the issue at a budget work session at 3:30 p.m. Monday at the Borough Building.

Also on the agenda for the school board meeting is the approval of administrative appointments. Among them is the scheduled approval of Glen Szymoniak for the position of assistant superintendent.

Szymoniak has served as principal in Moose Pass School, McNeil Canyon Elementary in Homer and currently is the principal at Homer Middle School. Peterson said Szymoniak brings a rich background of technology and data analysis.

"He will also bring knowledge of small schools, critical incidence planning and refined plans for Arctic Winter Games," Peterson said.

Szymoniak said he looks forward to learning all the nuances of the position.

"I'm really excited about it. The most important thing is that I've been around awhile, spent some time in a smaller village and in the Bush, so I can see things from their perspective," he said.

The federal No Child Left Behind law has created changes in the way education is handled, and Szymoniak said he adjusted to the changes.

"With No Child Left Behind, it's important to communicate with parents about accountability and standardized tests and showing how assignments relate to NCLB," he said.

The new assistant superintendent will replace Guy Fisher, who has taken a superintendent position in Oregon.

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