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School board has full plate: Body will consider giving OK to $129 million budget

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2010

The school board has a full plate for their Monday meeting, including passing a district budget set at just below $129 million.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education is set to vote on the proposed budget that will tap $2.5 million from the district's fund balance and asks the borough to contribute $45.2 million.

The district is asking for the maximum amount the borough can give, per state statute.

During the board work sessions prior to the regular meeting, the joint site councils of Nikiski North Star Elementary and Nikiski Middle-High schools will present a proposal to begin sending area 6th-graders to the middle school starting the 2011-2012 school year.

The two councils have met since mid-October to consider the option in an effort to reduce crowding at the elementary school. Members of each council were unanimous in approving the option.

The elementary school is operating at 93 percent capacity.

The board will vote on the proposal during the meeting.

Also up for consideration is the establishment of a task force to look at instituting a drug testing policy for students participating in co-curricular activities.

According to a report prepared by district Superintendent Steve Atwater, the level of drug use by area teens enrolled in the district is not likely increasing.

The information is based on interviews between Atwater and local police chiefs as well as the number of district wide drug related discipline infractions.

The report notes however that drug use may be growing beyond smoking pot, to include abuse of prescription drugs and heroin.

The report estimates the cost of testing to range from $15-30 per test, depending on the different number of substances that will be looked for. The report states that about 2,300 secondary students participate in co-curricular activities.

The board is also due to make a decision on a policy limiting the size of their fund balance.

State law allows the district to accumulate a savings of no more than 10 percent of their current fiscal year budget in the unreserved portion of their fund balance.

The board is set to vote on whether or not they will change their own policy to reduce that amount, allowing them to save only up to 5 percent of the current budget.

District officials said at the board's March meeting that the change comes as a result of public criticism of the fund balance.

The school board will hold worksessions starting at 2:45 p.m. on Monday in the assembly chambers of the Borough Administration Building at 148 N. Binkley Street in Soldotna. The regular board meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the same location.

Dante Petri can be reached at dante.petri@peninsulaclarion.com.



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