School board to decide where the money goes

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2004

Most families operate on budgets.

Income is dependent on the number of family members who work and their respective salaries.

Expenses often include "basics," such as rent or mortgage payments, electricity, water and food. Then there are "extras," such as cable television, Internet service and entertainment.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District operates in much the same way as an individual family, albeit on a much larger scale. The district's approximately $80 million general operating budget is hundreds of times larger than the typical family's budget, but it includes many of the same principles.

And development of the district budget requires the same sort of decisions families must make.

The district pays "rent" in the form of building care and maintenance. It pays for electricity, water and telephone service just like individuals though for about 42 "homes" rather than one. In addition, that $80 million also pays salaries, health insurance and retirement benefits for 1,200 employees; provides transportation and food for 9,000 children; and, of course, pays for textbooks, papers, desks, pens, pencils, computers and other learning materials to educate those children.

Like many families, the balance between the district's income and expenses is tenuous. And on Monday, the school board will make some hard financial decisions for how this vast "family" will operate in the coming year.

With the Legislature approving last month a $407 per pupil increase to the state education funding formula, the district stands to receive about $4.2 million more than originally counted on for the 2004-05 school year. Now, the board must decide which proverbial "bills" to pay with that money.

The wish list or, more accurately, need list is long.

There are bills that have to be paid, such as a contract stipulation that 10 percent of any additional legislative funding go to employee health care.

There are bills that should be paid immediately, such as the reinstatement of drastic cuts made to supply budgets, and money that should be set aside for future bills, such as anticipated increases to employee retirement funds and utility costs.

Then, there are the bills the district wants to pay the ones that directly impact its mission to educate children. These are expenditures like the reinstatement of cocurricular activities and summer school funding.

The challenge, however, is that the $4 million increase from the state and borough, while important, cannot cover all these bills.

On Monday, the district administration will present the board with a recommended budget revision that adjusts the 2004-05 budget for not only the funding increase, but also other finance-related changes.

First, the recommendation adjusts anticipated district enrollment to account for the formation of a new elementary charter school, potential regulation changes for the Connections home-school program and enrollment decreases at central peninsula high schools. Those revenue adjustments are balanced with corresponding adjustments to expenditures to Connections and charter school programs.

Then, the revision tackles the Legislature's education funding bill. The per-pupil increase means an anticipated $3,414,024 from the state and $786,032 from the borough.

With that money, district administration will propose "paying" the following bills:

Required charter school allocation $837,000

In-kind adjustments as per borough budget $171,478

Reduction in Connections supplies ($219,631)

Employee health care adjustment $271,365

Summer school funding $222,468

Reinstate supply reduction $301,925

Reinstate cocurricular funding $1,235,219

Unallocated (contingency staff funding) $688,212

Contingency for utility, etc., increases $692,020

Those are far from the only options for allocation of the additional funds, though.

Hypothetical discussions for "add-backs" in the past couple months have included reinstating Quest program staff, decreasing the pupil-teacher ratio and setting aside money for future retirement cost increases.

The board meets Monday at 2 p.m. in a work session to discuss the "add-backs" and will vote on the budget revision at the general meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

You choose...

Nine people from the Kenai Peninsula will decide Monday how to use an extra $4.2 million in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's 2004-05 budget. Their decisions will impact the lives of 1,200 district employees, the families of 9,000 children and quite possibly, the borough as a whole.

Those nine people were elected by the borough's voting population and work at the general public's direction. So now, community members have the opportunity to try their hand at some of the school board members' decisions.

The following is a list of potential uses of the extra money, based on board discussions over the past few months. Pick how you would use the money, but remember, your choices must add up exactly to the amount available no going over or under.

Amount available to spend: $4,200,056

Must be spent:

Charter schools $837,000

In-kind budget $171,478


Connections supplies $219,631

What's left to spend: $3,411,209

Your choices:

Health care adjustment: $271,365

(Contractual obligation)

Summer school $222,468

Supplies (to reinstate 12% cut) $301,925

- or -

Supplies (5% increase) $113,554

- or -

Supplies (10% increase) $277,108

Cocurricular activities $1,235,219

Unallocated $390,778

(To hire staff in case to

of crowded classes in fall) $688,212

Utility increase contingency up to $692,020

- or -

Postage 15% increase $10,861

Utility increase $343,424

Lower K-3 PTR by 2.5 $143,378

- or -

Lower K-3 PTR by 5.5 $315,431

-or -

Lower K-12 PTR by 1 $700,000

- or -

Lower K-12 PTR by 2 $1,400,000

Save for next year's $2,189,716

retirement increase

What's your total?

Compared to $3,411,209

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