School budget response is overkill

Posted: Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Each year the district can carry over 10 percent of the budget if it wants to, according to Superintendent Peggy Cowen. That is about $4 million. They choose to carry forward between $500,000 and $2 million. This is sort of a rainy day account for hard times.

Good morning, the rainy days and hard times are here. Before they add one student to a class of 30 by laying off one more teacher, in my opinion, they should use up their rainy day savings.

According to the district budget, they will place $844,152 into the "rainy day" account for FY05 to carry over to FY06. As we all know, this will grow as the district "finds" money. This year alone the JSD has "found" $1.5 million. Was it lost? I guess so.

School Board member Bob Van Slyke said at their meeting, "If it comes down to extra buses or extra teachers, I'll opt for extra teachers." Would it not make sense to use the same logic and use their savings? The $844,152 would fund 17 of the "to be cut" 26 teachers.

This also raises the question, if the legislators give the JSD over $3 million dollars in new funds next year, what will it go toward? A half-million dollars would be needed to bring back the remaining "to be cut" teachers. The PERS and TRS increases have already been covered in the budget. Another $300,000 would take care of most of the other cuts so. ...?

Last year the district pushed the teachers to nearly strike over a 2 percent raise that they could clearly afford, costing the district about $370,000. The response by the district was the proposed 26 teacher cuts that are clearly over kill.

Kevin Hamrick

Juneau



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