City to adjust school funding

Lower enrollment reduces state and local contributions

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2006

The Juneau Assembly will decide tonight whether to appropriate $285,900 as partial funding for the Juneau School District's general operations.

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The funds include a transfer of $61,600 in city funds from the district's general operations to its pupil transportation program, said Juneau Finance director Craig Duncan. The city is required to remove the $61,600 from the district's general operations to keep local district funding in line with state funding, which is based on school enrollment. School enrollment dropped by 131 students this year.

City Manager Rod Swope recommended redirecting the money to other school district operating needs that the city is allowed to fund.

"When there is a drop in state funding, then the city has to reduce funding also," Duncan said. "Rather than just take the money back we seek to transfer $61,600 to the transportation fund from the general operating fund.

"While it may not seem like a lot of money in a multimillion dollar school budget, it does make a difference."

If approved, the money transferred to the transportation fund would help cover activity runs, especially from Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School and Floyd Dryden Middle School, said District Director of Administrative Services David Means.

The adjustments were requested by the Juneau School District Board to comply with state law, Means said.

"We had 131 fewer students this year, which means less funding from both the state and city," Means said.

The enrollment number is generated over 20 days in October, with the final count being made on the fourth Friday of that month. The district projected in June that 5,356.8 students would attend Juneau schools this year. The final count brought that number down to 5,225.7, 131.10 less students than anticipated. The district has $392,000 carried over from last year.

After a steady increase of enrollment numbers in the late 1990s, peaking at 5,701 students in 1999, the 2000s have seen a slight, steady enrollment decline. There are 5,226 students that have been counted for fiscal year 2006, the lowest in a decade.

The Assembly also will decide whether to buy two fire trucks for $835,000, whether to approve $30,000 in docks funds for the cruise ship terminal visitor center remodel and whether to approve an ordinance authorizing the sale of 44 lots at the South Lena Subdivision.

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