JSD to look at changes that would save RALLY

Juneau School District’s RALLY (Recreation, Arts, Learning, and Leadership for Youth) program could go from having financial troubles — a roughly $300,000 deficit — to being a stable program with a positive balance sheet pending board action on Tuesday night.

The district’s board of education meets at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Juneau-Douglas High School Library and one topic they are slated to take action on is adjustments to policies that affect RALLY — the formerly before- (except the current program at Harborview Elementary School) and currently after-school child care program.

This fall, the district announced it would end all morning RALLY offerings except at Harborview, and also combine Mendenhall River Community School and Glacier Valley Elementary School’s after-school program. Mendenhall parents pushed for a parent group and have taken a deep look into the issues with RALLY. It has made four recommendations to the district, three of which have either been implemented or are close to being implemented, that will prevent the two afternoon programs from combining and make the program solvent.

One of those changes includes a parent advisory group, which has already been established.

The parent group found RALLY was incorrectly being charged with indirect costs at widely varying rates. According to board policy, those costs are only applicable to grant funded programs, which should not apply to RALLY. So the district on Tuesday night will look at a policy change that will include all programs like RALLY and set a base indirect cost rate for those programs that will not fluctuate yearly.

The group has also asked the board to hold RALLY harmless for several years of those past indirect costs — saying those costs are the reason the program flopped financially. It is not asking for a reimbursement of sorts for the entire duration the program was incorrectly charged, just enough to basically balance its budget moving forward. District staff has proposed taking money from funds with a bit of an extra balance to do so. However, that action also will require the approval of the state Board of Education before this move at stabilizing RALLY can be finalized.

The school board also will get its first reading of the budget, which addresses more than $5 million in cuts to meet a deficit caused largely by discontinuance of grants and declining enrollment. All board members were on the budget committee.

For a full agenda and related documents, see bit.ly/oPpYiU.

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

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