The Juneau School District is asking the Legislature for more than $2.5 million to close the deficit before the next fiscal year.
Alaska’s school funding formula allows local governments to contribute their own funds up to a certain point. The City and Borough of Juneau has allocated the maximum amount of local funding annually to the school district for over a decade.
School boards can ask local governments for more money than that limit, and during last year’s budget process, school boards asking $2.2 million, Now, the board is seeking an additional $2.5 million.
Of this, more than $1.2 million will go toward the growing transportation funding deficit. Transportation is funded by the state on a per-pupil basis, and Superintendent Bridget Weiss said the decrease in enrollment was due to a decrease in funds last year. District leaders expect the deficit to grow at the end of this school year, as Enrollment was once again lower than expected,
“When we went into COVID and our enrollment dropped, there was a hold harmless law It supported us for a few years,” Weiss told the Assembly Finance Committee on Wednesday. “That was true for general funding, but it was not true for transportation funding.”
He said that the cost of fuel has also increased.
the second big thing is on List $750,000 for the district’s after-school program RALLY. Weiss said many Rally employees work as paraeducators at schools during the day and then work overtime at Rally, which has driven up costs last year and this year. she said the program is experiencing Same Hiring Challenges as the rest of Juno’s child care providers.
“Because of our negotiated agreement, this means we are paying overtime, which is more expensive,” she told the committee. “If we put those costs on the family, we’ve found that doesn’t make it affordable.”
Weiss said the funding will also go toward costs that are related to middle school wrestling, summer school and community classes for adults this year.
Weiss said that if the Legislature does not provide the district with an additional $2.5 million, the district will have to fill the gap in funds spent on instruction next year.
“Our K-12 instructional money is the only other pot we have,” Weiss said in an interview. “We have to use those instructional dollars to pay for these losses, and it will eat up some of our operating funds.”
Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Scandies asked School Board President DD Sorensen how much the school board has discussed the possibility of not getting additional funding from the city.
“We haven’t spent an extraordinary amount of time on these. We spent a lot of time trying to decide whether we’re going to ask the Legislature or not,” Sorensen said. “Most of our budgetary discussions have been about how to deal with this. how much do we need to cut for structural deficit,
Some assembly members pushed back against the request. Member Wade Bryson said the Legislature is being asked to provide an easy way out of the district’s budget problems.
Bryson said, “If you know there are places that are losing money, bring it to our attention so we can do something about it and end up handing us the bill and rewarding us for bad budgeting practices.” “
But Weiss said the root of the problem is flat-out funding from the state. base student allocationThere has been no increase in state per-pupil funding for school districts since 2017.
“It’s not about bad budgeting. It’s not about bad spending,” Weiss told the committee. “It’s about K-12 education, which is very lacking.”
The Finance Committee voted to move an ordinance to allocate up to $2,540,737 to the full Assembly for a final vote, with its members Bryson, Hughes-Scandyze and Maria Gladzijewski voting against.
school board first reading next year’s budget is scheduled for Tuesday.