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JSD: Tough budget cuts ahead

Posted: January 23, 2013 - 1:07am

Juneau School District Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich had little good news for the newly created budget committee’s second meeting Tuesday night.

“Next week you will get a budget proposal from (a group of administrators) who have put hours and hours,” Gelbrich said. “And I can tell you without exception it was unbelievably difficult. The cuts we made were on top of cuts we've made already.”

JSD has lost around 90 positions in the last three years.

Gelbrich and his administrative team of principals and managers will turn a draft budget over to the committee.

“To their credit,” Gelbrich said of the team, “they came up with a budget they support. It was just these unbelievable tradeoffs. And all of the people in this room will get to feel that.”

The committee has the discretion to add and remove items from the budget. However, Gelbrich warned that any addition in one place will have to come with a reduction in another. JSD does not have reserves, he said.

“Our board has put all the money on the table,” Gelbrich said.

Gelbrich said he would explain some of the tradeoffs when he unveils the team’s draft budget at the budget committee’s next meeting on Jan. 29. Committee members will not have access to the budget prior to the public.

Committee members expressed some disillusionment about working with such an austere budget.

“It feels like we've been punched in the gut.” Michael Heiman, committee representative for the Juneau Education Association, said. “Just like last year. When we don't have the funding it is really hard to be excited by this.”

Heiman said after the meeting that he may feel the pain of the cuts because of his job, but it is the kids who are the one who really feel the affects of a reduced school staff.

Gelbrich said the budget would reflect that in a tight budget the school district couldn’t single out certain kids to receive more resources.

"We must do a smaller number of things really well," Gelbrich said.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

 

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