Committee asks JSD for nurses, drug tests

Transportation fund eyed for added school district services

The Juneau School District Budget Committee Tuesday asked the district to use transportation funds to hire two nurses and partially reinstate school drug testing programs for 2013-14.

After weeks of meetings the Juneau School District Budget Committee has made its recommendations to the school board for changes that can be made to the district administration’s draft budget.

Budget Committee Co-Chair Brian Holst helped create the committee’s report.

He said the committee process was “unwieldy in certain ways having so many people involved.”

Holst was one of 17 committee members. He said the committee commiserates with the education board in the difficulty crafting a budget.

The committee met seven times.

The committee recommended a one-time transfer of around $100,000 from the transportation fund to the general fund.

“Put transportation funds to work in the school budget,” Holst said.

The extra funds could hire two nurses at an increase of $140,000, remove the need to increase the pupil-teacher ratio and add back half of the drug testing program.

Not all changes the committee recommended were to reverse cuts to programs. Committee members suggested reducing the district’s IT services by $50,000 and removing some “non-essential” professional technical items to the tune of $13,000, among other cuts.

“We considered many, many, many more cuts,” Holst said “It was a series of difficult choices.”

Holst said the committee would like the district to look into the optimum amount of time students should spend on assessment testing.

”Many of us and many members of the community would like the board of education look at that … the amount of time spent out of the instructional classroom,” Holst said.

JSD Board Member Sally Saddler said she thought the committee worked well, considering its limits.

“We all wish that we had more money,” Saddler said.

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich and his administration budget team will consider the committee’s comments over the next week and report its findings on March 11.

Gelbrich said his team will look for specific kinds of recommendations.

“Is there something in the proposed amendment that strengthens the budget proposal?” Gelbrich said. “Anything that perturbs our thinking that we should have thought of something else. We may not agree with the budget committee, but we have tremendous respect for the work of the committee. It was very constructive.”

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

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