School district expects shortfall
The Haines Borough school board will hold a budget workshop 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Haines School library to address a shortfall currently projected at about $210,000.
At the sboard’s regular meeting Tuesday, district superintendent Michael Byer presented his $5.9 million general fund budget for the coming school year, showing a projected decline of $462,688 due to changes in the student population, including an expected 30-student drop in enrollment.
“This year there are a lot of forces colliding in a negative way to affect our budget,” Byer said, pointing to federal sequestration, anticipated decline in timber receipt compensation funds and no expected increases in the base student allocation from the Alaska Legislature.
Use of $526,000 from the district’s fund balance would plug the hole, but leave only a cushion of $90,759, according to Byer’s figures. The district has a policy of maintaining a fund balance of $300,000 heading into a school year, district officials said this week.
The budget projections don’t include costs that might arise from increases to the district’s negotiated contract with employee, which is currently under negotiation. The projections include a contribution of $1.55 million from the Haines Borough, the same amount allocated by the borough last year. (Under state law, the municipality can contribute up to $1.83 million.)
The projections also include an expected savings of $160,000 by not rehiring one untenured teacher and two classified employees.
Byer told board members that his budget “maintains the emphasis on early literacy, mathematics and vocational education” as proscribed in the district’s strategic plan. “We absorbed a teaching position last year and with further declining enrollment and revenues, we’ll have to further cut positions for (the coming fiscal year),” Byer said.
Byer distributed a bar graph at the meeting showing district enrollment holding steady at about 310 students between 2007 and 2012, before dropping by 25 students last October, a change he called “kind of shocking.”
Byer also told the board he had recently negotiated down a service contract for the Haines School’s heating and ventilation system from $14,842 annually to $11,414. The board voted unanimously in March to enter into the contract, after initially opposing the idea. School and borough maintenance officials endorsed the contract.
Also Tuesday, the board voted to approve contracts for non-tenured teachers Akela Silkman, Sophia Armstrong, Kristin White, Nevada Benton, Ella Bredthauer, Rosie Milligan and Darwin Feakes.
The board also heard a report that recommending that replacement of air-handling units in the art room wait until summer of 2014.