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

School budget meeting draws little comment

 


Only a few Haines residents chimed in Wednesday to discuss the Haines School District’s budget for the coming year, which would use up the last of the district’s savings.

Superintendent Tony Habra gave a presentation on the future of the district’s finances at an afternoon meeting intended to gauge community priorities for the district. An evening meeting was cancelled due to poor turnout.

Only two parents of Haines School students shared their opinions at the afternoon session. Projected drops in enrollment are among the causes for the deep reductions in funding expected in the coming year.

Asked to name the most important program or thing to keep in the budget as administrators consider cuts, Pam Long, School Advisory Council member and parent of two students in the district, said, “That’s a zinger. That one is too hard.”

Long said she would like any program that includes hands-on learning to stay. The district should look at easy ways of cutting costs, but to also search out alternative ways to save or find funding instead of just slashing programs. Families need to be more involved in order for the district to succeed, Long said.

Alissa Koverdan, mother of three students in the school, said the district is at its best when teachers are happy and “no one is stressed to buy supplies.” She added that the district should be thankful for what it has, and not be wasteful.

Both Long and Koverdan agreed teacher retention and fulfillment was important because staff may be asked to do more with less.

Koverdan asked if it was possible to get more money from the Haines Borough, or ask for a raise in property taxes to fund the deficit. Habra said it could be possible. The borough has said it would give the school district the same amount of money as it did in the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Habra said he would create and share a document summarizing what he’s heard from the school board, staff and the community. He presented the same information to the staff and school board in separate meetings. Administrators hope to have a budget draft by late March. A final document is due to the state by June 30.

Habra also made four videos about budget basics that are available on the district’s website at http://hbsd.net/Page/650, including the same presentation he showed to the board, staff and public.

 
 

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