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

School savings down to $195K


A budget battle between the Alaska state Senate and House of Representatives has the Haines School District budget in a lurch until the state’s financial plan is finalized.

Superintendent Tony Habra said in his state-of-the-district presentation Tuesday that he has heard the district budget could be cut $170,000 due to a proposed 5 percent statewide cut to education, or base student allocation funding could be cut by 5 percent. (Base student allocation is a figure that’s used to determine how much funding schools receive for each student).

The district has a deficit of about $365,000 for the fiscal year 2018 budget that forced several teacher and administrative resignations.

Habra said the state is “holding education hostage” as legislators debate a state income tax and changes to the permanent fund dividend.

“Every year is going to be like this until we have a stable fiscal way of moving forward with the state and they stop playing games using education as a hostage,” Habra said.

Habra’s state of the district address covered where the district is now and how he hopes it will improve and progress in the next three years.

Haines parent Pam Long asked Tuesday how the district plans to address helping students to be both college-ready and job-ready with budget constraints and a smaller staff.

“If (the state) cuts us another $170,000 if this 5 percent cut goes through, we’re going to lose opportunities for kids. We’re going to lose the small classes that allow some college stuff…we’re going to have to rethink it and decide how we’re going rollover our career and tech opportunities,” Habra said. “I think the plan we have in place right now, although we’re a little smaller than we were, we’re still offering a full music program…we’re still offering full art.”

Without additional state cuts, school board president Anne Marie Palmieri said the district expects to use about $250,000 from savings in fiscal year 2018, reducing the fund balance to about $195,688.

Palmieri said negotiations with the teachers’ union were finished early this month. The district is still waiting on final numbers from the borough and a few other pieces of the fiscal year 2018 budget to settle out by the middle of May. The school board has set a workshop for June to discuss the budget. A final document is due to the state by June 30.

Habra will present two more state of the district presentations at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27 at the public library and noon on Friday, April 28 at the Pioneer Bar and Restaurant for the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. A recording of the first presentation is available on the district’s website:


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