School budget committee wants public input

Juneau’s Board of Education wants to know what the public thinks about school district spending.

“If this is the amount of money we have are we allocating it in the most efficient way to get the best results for kids?” asks School Board President Sally Saddler.

She says the 16-member budget committee needs to hear what the community thinks as it begins to work on the 2013 spending plan.

The budget committee is comprised of the entire school board, plus seven public members and representatives from school unions. Work begins in earnest in January. It will be late April before the district will know how much money to expect from the main funding source, which is the state of Alaska. It’s already clear Juneau will have at least three-million dollars less in revenue next year.

Personnel makes up about 80 percent of district expenses. Bargaining begins in January for new teacher and staff contracts. Saddler says the budget hole puts the district in a difficult spot as it goes into negotiations.

“We can’t ask our faculty and support staff to do more with less. They’ve been doing that over the past few years,” she says. “We had a 4-point-1 million dollar cut last year, the year before we had cuts, and I think we’ve been cutting since I’ve been on the board. So what we want to do is say ‘how can we do things differently’ and get people thinking about ways that it’s not business as usual.”

More information on the school district budget is at www.juneauschools.org. You’ll find the link under Hot Topics.

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