The Kodiak Island Borough School District Board of Education voted last week to pass the school’s fiscal 2021 budget, which cut several positions after the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly slashed their financial contribution to the district by over $1 million. 

Final budget expenses are projected to total $45,239,486, with revenues projected to be $45,620,147. 

The general fund revenue budget is based on a projected daily enrollment of 2,215 students, with $11.6 million from local revenue sources, $29.5 million from state revenue, $2.7 million from federal revenue, $1.5 million from the use of fund balance and $180,000 from other sources.

Before the reduction in the local contribution was made, the preliminary expense budget included 3.5 new positions, including one Kodiak Middle School counselor, one special education teacher, one elementary gifted and talented teacher, and vocational positions. 

After the Borough Assembly reduced the school district’s requested amount by $1,065,155, the district cut 3.5 positions: an administrator, an accountant, a secondary teacher and a part-time special education position. The remainder of cuts were non-personnel.

To balance the budget, non-personnel expenditures were decreased by $1,154,247. The district planned to backfill the non-personnel with fund balance.

The district decreased personnel and benefit expenses by $281,606 and non-personnel expenses by $491,979. These included cutting back on utilities, supplies, staff travel, equipment, and professional and technical services, among other expenses. 

“Because of our dependence on fund balance to balance our budget, this million-dollar cut was very serious,” School District Superintendent Dr. Larry LeDoux said at a June 15 school board meeting. 

He said that despite the cut in funding from the borough, he did not cut $1 million from the budget because the district received an additional $300,000 in impact aid from the state, which was more than they expected to receive. 

“For the last three years it’s been higher than they predicted,” LeDoux said of the additional funding. 

Typically, one-time balances are risky to use and won’t be there the following year, he said. However, because the school district has recently received similar increases in funding from the state each year, he predicted that the funding will increase by the same amount next year and therefore can be considered a revenue increase. 

Using the $300,000 as fund balance will allow the district to avoid cutting more positions, which likely would have meant additional cuts to the custodial department, he said. 

“If it doesn't come the way we expect, I think $300,000 isn’t going make or break the FY22 budget,” he said. 

From fiscal 2020 to fiscal 2021, the district reduced staff by 15.1 full-time equivalent positions, many of them in the special education department, Sandy Dawes, the school district finance director, said at the June 15 meeting. 

“We did have SPED (special education) teachers that we had on staff this year that in 2021 we are going to have to contract,” she said. “We couldn't find the people to hire.”

The school district oversees 15 schools with seven in town and eight in surrounding communities and villages. 

Budget discussions began on Nov. 18. The preliminary budget was OK’d on April 6 and finally passed on June 15 before submission to the state. 

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