Local education funding up to assembly

Providing money to the ‘cap’ would mean $37.7 million from borough

Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2007

Local funding to schools in fiscal year 2008 is expected to show a slight decrease from that of the current year, but will still amount to more than $37.7 million.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will consider how much locally raised funds will be handed to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District to help cover operations.

The borough is proposing an appropriation of $37,712,068, an amount equal to the legal limit, or cap, imposed by state and federal law. That figure represents a decrease of $232,801, or about a 0.6 percent cut, from local funding in the current schools budget.

Currently, the estimated total education budget is set at just over $131.1 million. That figure includes in-kind services controlled by the borough (maintenance, utilities, insurance, auditing fees, custodial services) totaling just over $8.15 million.

That $8.15 million is accounted for within the $37.7 million local funding total. Removing it from the total leaves $29.5 million, the “local effort” representing the amount transferred as cash, the expenditure of which is controlled by the district..

The figures within the resolution are based largely on the school district’s preliminary budget presented to the borough in January. The district is to present its new budget Tuesday. The assembly may take action on the resolution anytime with a 30-day period following receipt of the district’s budget.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education approved the new schools budget at its April 2 meeting. According to schools Superintendent Donna Peterson, development of the budget was based on three factors -- the state’s current base student allocation (BSA) proposal of $5,380, a quarter of the district cost factor recently recommended in the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) report, and on school improvement grants enacted by the Legislature in fiscal year 2007.

“The district remains hopeful that there will be a legislative increase in the district cost factor portion of the funding formula change and perhaps an increase in the BSA for FY08,” Peterson said in a recent memo to the assembly.

She said the district will revise its budget once state appropriations are finalized.

Public hearings on six ordinances also are scheduled for Tuesday’s assembly meeting. Two concern solid waste management.

One would transfer $70,000 in general fund money to the Solid Waste Capital Project Fund and appropriate out of that fund $130,000 to cover the costs of rebuilding and relining the Harris Press and Shear Baler at the Homer Baler Facility.

The other would appropriate $2.45 million for closure of the old section of the Central Peninsula Landfill.

Other ordinances:

· address proposed amendments to borough road standards;

· would appropriate $60,000 from the Seward/Bear Creek Flood Service Area to provide supplemental funding for flood mitigation and repair; and

· would appropriate just over $1.2 million for road repair projects. Those projects include repairs to Forest Road Bridge, Old Exit Glacier Road and Timber and Forest lanes. Each was damaged during the October 2006 floods.

Also on the assembly agenda is a resolution which would approve an updated version of the borough’s Emergency Operations Plan. The item was postponed from the April 3 meeting.

The assembly also may reconsider a measure that proposed spending $216,000 to purchase nine vehicles for a borough motor pool. The assembly rejected the expenditure at the April 3 meeting, but assembly member Milli Martin, of Diamond Ridge, asked for reconsideration. The administration has said buying the vehicles for use by certain employees currently getting car allowances and mileage for use of their own would save money in the long run.

Also on the assembly’s consent agenda will be introduction of an ordinance that would appropriate $62.98 million for the fiscal year 2008 borough budget. That ordinance will get public hearings on May 1 and May 15.

Hal Spence can be reached at harold.spence@peninsulaclarion.com.

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