The Kodiak Island Borough School District is currently tasked with trying to balance a budget deficit of more than $4.1 million for Fiscal Year 2024, which starts on July 1.
The school district is projecting it will receive about $44.5 million in local, state and federal funding next year, including $24.8 million from the state through its per-student allocation funding formula. There haven’t been any meaningful increases in state funding for schools since 2017, Board of Education President Dave Johnson said in a Tuesday interview with KDM. The BOE met to discuss next year’s budget Monday night.
The school district is projecting $48.6 million in expenses for Fiscal Year 2024, a slight decrease from the current budget of $49.1 million.
“This year is especially tough because districts throughout the state are running out of the COVID federal money,” Johnson said in the interview. “So, the ability to bridge that gap is gone, and everybody’s up against their own fiscal cliffs and trying to get out.”
Johnson is hoping that the borough will help to cover the deficit. A joint meeting between the Kodiak Island Borough and the Kodiak Island Borough School District Board of Education is scheduled for March 23.
There is an extra fund balance that could carry the district through the next fiscal year, according to Johnson. But for Fiscal Year 2025 there will be “substantial cuts to services” if the district doesn’t receive more funding, according to Johnson.
The district is already looking at which programs may have to be cut. They would be made at the discretion of the board, and the board would try to start with high expense programs that have low student involvement, according to Johnson.
“It will be the least impactful cuts,” Johnson said.
To save money, Superintendent Cyndy Mika presented efficiencies to the Board of Education that could save the school district funds. The focus of Mika’s presentation looked at raising the student-to-teacher ratio for the district’s middle school and high school to 30 students per teacher. This has the potential to reduce the staff needed by four full-time staff members. During the presentation on Monday, Mika said the teachers’ positions would not be cut if currently staffed, but would be reduced through attrition, or not filling a position when teachers leave.
Other efficiencies could include creating the same seven-period day for both middle and high schools to share teachers between the schools, reviewing electives and programs, and looking at the grade configuration for elementary schools in the district. Currently, Kodiak High School uses a six-period day, and Kodiak Middle School uses a seven-period day. The schedules would need to match for teachers to be able to be shared across the schools.
The amount of money the efficiencies could save is dependent on the BOE’s decision regarding changes to graduation requirements, among other things. The number of credits students need to graduate as well as changes in school schedules would have an impact on how the district could save funds.
A new bill currently in the state Senate could raise the per-student funding formula for Kodiak schools by over $2 million, according to Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak. The bill would add $1,000 per student for the foundation formula. Stevens said he didn’t believe the House of Representatives would be as generous as the Senate for student funding. Johnson said he and Kodiak’s student representative for the board of education testified in support of the bill in Juneau.
“I can’t guarantee anything, but I do believe that [a] bill for $1,000 [for per-student funding] will leave the House or the Senate, the education committee, and could be adjusted up or down in Senate Finance… . It’s just too early to say what’s going to happen,” Stevens said in an interview with KDM.
Thanks Dunleavy…we have a real problem in this state with young families leaving. Want to keep people here? Providing a good education for their kids is a good first step.
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