Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


School budget back in black


What looked a few months ago to be a $250,000 deficit in the Haines Borough School District budget is no more.

The district’s first draft budget included some erroneous figures, so the actual hole was about $135,000, superintendent Michael Byer said this week. Eliminating one teaching position left the district with a $25,000 gap last month. Recent appropriations by the Alaska Legislature will fill the gap and leave the district about $40,000 in the black, Byer said.

“(The legislature) gave us a little extra last year and they gave us a little more extra this year. Whether it’ll keep up with the cost of living and other expenses, I don’t know. But I don’t feel so bad,” Byer said Tuesday.

Legislators didn’t pass an increase in school foundation funding sought by the district, but did approve about $39 million statewide in pupil transportation, vocational education and direct financial assistance, measures that translate to about $93,000 in additional funds for the Haines district.

Total district revenues will be down a bit from last year – from $5.66 million last year to $5.60 million this year.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Byer also informed members of a plan for a major reshuffling of offices, aimed at improving supervision of students, in part by distributing administrators throughout the building.

The changes also will create a “learning center” for special education, advanced placement and other students taking independent classes.

Under the plan, assistant principal Michelle Byer’s office would move to the current superintendent’s office, and the superintendent and staff would move to the current art room. Art would be consolidated in an “art annex” room that formerly served as the woodshop.

The “learning center” would be located in the current Community Education office and accommodate seven to 10 students. Community Education would move to the school counselor’s office adjacent to the high school open area and the counselor would relocate in the central office area.

“There is a need for more principal supervision and presence around the open area of the high school. Having an office for one of the principals by that area would solve that. Second, it would be good to have a separate room for detentions and in-school suspensions,” Michael Byer wrote board members in a memo on the matter.

Under the existing arrangement, unsupervised students congregate during classes in the high school’s open area and ones in detention were kept in the office in the school’s main lobby, where there are often distractions, Byer said.

The changes will require about $20,000 in cabinets for the new, consolidated art room and addition of walls in the room currently used for art, Byer told the board. Also under the changes, elementary principal Cheryl Stickler will spend more time in the elementary wing, including at a station there.

School board president Carol Kelly said she was excited about the prospect of the learning center, which Byer described as an “alternative school” in the high school. “The board since 2002 has been trying to accomplish something like this.” The program will be led by teacher Nevada Benton.

The board also approved two, full-time teacher hires at the meeting: Ella Bredthauer for a middle school math and science position and Kristin White for an elementary teaching position.