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JSD budget battle begins Tuesday at JDHS

Posted: January 16, 2012 - 12:01am

The Juneau School District Budget Committee on Tuesday will hear the first proposal on how to cut $3.9 million to $5.6 million from the budget for fiscal year 2013.

The committee will meet at 6 p.m. in the Juneau-Douglas High School library, and is scheduled to meet at least four more times through February. The budget recommendations are supposed to hit the school board on March 6, and be submitted to the City and Borough of Juneau by March 30.

“We would bring you a budget that assumes the larger amount and gives you incremental suggestions,” Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich told board members last week.

Board members serve on the budget committee, along with members of the public and union representatives.

Gelbrich said they will kind of treat the budget like a construction bid — in that it will assume one level of funding (the worst-case budget scenario) and include specific options to add back should more revenues come in.

“The reason we would do it that way — fundamentally we have the duty to present a balanced budget,” Gelbrich said. “If we started from the other end we would be making last-minute decisions, and those generally aren’t very good. The proposed budget is going to contain very difficult to swallow reductions, and its not because we want to.”

Gelbrich said those proposed cuts will be rolled out in draft form at Tuesday’s budget committee meeting.

This meeting will not include time for public testimony  — though the public is welcome to attend. The next opportunity for public comment is at the Jan. 24 committee meeting.

Last year, the district also faced a shortfall largely due to decreasing revenues and declining enrollment for what ended up being about $4.1 million. The cuts garnered extensive public testimony against cutting programs on the chopping block, and the budget was passed by the board in a narrow vote.

For more information on the district’s budget and related documents see bit.ly/sVQyod.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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