School board gives Assembly budget wish list

District looks to state increases to cover part of expected deficit

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Identifying specific new programs, their costs and ways the city can make them happen, the Juneau School Board pitched its hopes for the 2003-04 budget to the Juneau Assembly at a joint work session Tuesday evening.

"Year after year our budget balances (and) we make it work," Superintendent Gary Bader said. "But some of the things that need to be done aren't being addressed. ...

"We are appreciative of being funded to the cap, but we feel it is important to indicate to the Assembly other things that could be funded."

Bader outlined the budget gap the district is facing, some of the new projects the district would like to include in the budget and ways the Assembly could make them happen by providing additional funding to the district outside of a state-mandated spending cap.

In addition to recommendations he made to the board Budget Committee last week, including a food service study, a truancy-tracker position and designating $300,000 per year for technology acquisition, Bader outlined other initiatives the district would like to include in the budget:

• Increasing the number of English as a second language positions in the district from 6.5 to 9 at a cost of $137,500 per year.

• Increasing funding for supplies and materials at schools by $75,000 per year.

• Hiring additional technology support staff at a cost of $104,000 per year.

The costs of these programs, combined with budget shortfalls created by existing programs over the next two fiscal years, would create a budget gap of $1.014 million in fiscal year 2003 and $928,466 in fiscal year 2004. Bader identified ways the Assembly could provide funding outside the cap to alleviate the gap, including:

• Covering the one-time, $610,347 Retirement Incentive Program Debt Service for fiscal year 2003.

• Providing about $370,000 over two years to cover the cost of kindergarten busing.

• Paying the rent for the Juneau Community Charter School and Yaakoosg Daakahdi Alternative High School at a cost of $112,000 per year.

Even if the city provided everything the district asked for, Bader said there still would be a $517,942 gap in fiscal year 2004. He said it is hoped that state funding increases will cover that deficit.

Mayor Sally Smith said she appreciated seeing specific projects and requests, rather than large, more vague figures. She said the city would like to help - and has gone outside of the cap before - but the city's own budget woes may make funding all of the district's requests difficult.

"The city looks to be down about a million dollars this year," she said. "As a result, it may be some of this and some of that."

Andrew Krueger can be reached at akrueger@juneauempire.com.



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