CBJ funds local schools to the cap

The City and Borough of Juneau will contribute nearly $26-million toward school district operations for the next fiscal year, expected to total more than $76 million.

State law sets a cap on the amount local districts can contribute toward school operations. As in previous years, the city will fund the maximum amount; it’s already in CBJ’s proposed FY 2013 budget.

Juneau School Board members and administration officials met with the CBJ Assembly last night (Wednesday) to lay out the school district spending plan. David Means is district administrative services director.

“The 25-million, 693-thousand dollars is roughly one-third our operating fund budget, our main budget for general school operations,” Means explained. “One-half of our budget is funded basically from the state foundation program through the Department of Education.”

The state of Alaska also covers teachers’ retirement, which is about one-sixth of the Juneau district budget next year.

Law requires school districts complete their budgets by the end of March, though they won’t know the total amount of state funding for several weeks. Even so, Means says the school district will not ask CBJ for more, even if the state increases the cap.

“In the event that the legislature elects to increase the base student allocation, why is it a good idea not to come back to the City and Borough of Juneau, this Assembly, and ask us to fund to the cap?” asked Assembly member Jesse Kiehl.

Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich said the decision was prompted by the school-funding timeline that “screams to be fixed. And the question is how long can the ambiguity continue?”

If the legislature increases the base student allocation, Gelbrich said, the district would likely seek the adjustment in FY 14, since the city is also trying to set its budget.

Gelbrich says superintendents across the state find the legislature’s timetable for education funding “exasperating.”

Outside of school district operations, the city helps fund student transportation, community schools, high school and other activities. The FY 13 contribution is $770,000 dollars, also already in the CBJ draft budget.

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