School board budgeting for greater involvement

Posted: Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board wants the public to get more involved in its work.

In a meeting in Seward on Monday, the board talked about the need for more people to take part in the budget process for fiscal year 2007.

After reviewing the district's budget development process, Chief Financial Officer Melody Douglas requested the elimination of the budget review committee and presented the board with a schedule for numerous public meetings around the district during October and November.

"Given the district's long-standing financial challenges, the effectiveness of the budget review committee process appears extremely limited," Douglas said in a memo to the board.

"Unfortunately, it can be perceived as a negative process when participants come to realize that they really have little impact on the district's overall budget," she said.

The public will have numerous opportunities to give input at meetings scheduled around the district.

Budget orientation meetings for site councils, staff and the public include:

Today at 7 p.m. at Kenai Central High School "little theater";

Monday at 7 p.m. at the Homer High School library; and

Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Seward High School library.

Public budget hearings prior to board meetings include:

Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly chambers; and

Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Homer High School library.

Public budget forums include:

Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Seward High School library;

Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Skyview High School library; and

Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Homer High School library.

Kelly King, a senior at Soldotna High School, was selected as the board's new student representative at a boroughwide student council meeting in September.

"I decided to run for student representative because having grown up in Soldotna's school system and later working with my administration to benefit the school, I've realized how frustrating it can be for students who don't feel like they have a voice," King said. "I want to make sure that while I'm in this position, I network with the student governments of the local schools so I know that the student body feels well-represented."

Also at Monday's meeting, Seward Middle School Principal John Cote presented the plan for transitioning into the new school building, which is due for completion prior to the end of the school year.

Bringing to code the existing 50,000-square-foot facility would have cost the district $10 million, according to board President Sammy Crawford.

"The community had an opportunity to weigh in on it and decided they wanted a smaller, newer school," Crawford said of the decision to build a 38,000-square-foot new school building for $11 million. "They're very excited about this. It looks like it's going to be a perfect plan for a middle school."

The board unanimously approved the following budget transfers:

$12,091 requested by Connections to purchase software site licenses for student computers; and

$49,000 to pay for removal of old playground pavement, regrading, compacting the site and laying new pavement for Aurora Borealis Charter School.

The next school board meeting is Oct. 17 at the Borough Building in Soldotna.

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