JSD budget committee takes public testimony

Public comments will be taken Tuesday on the Juneau School District’s budget for next year.

This is the first of two public hearings during the budget committee’s months-long process of developing a spending plan for fiscal year 2014.

The 17-member committee includes a representative from each of Juneau’s 12 schools and three education unions as well as community members.  School board members also attend the budget meetings, but cannot vote.

The district has used a community committee process in the past, but this year the group will actually present a budget.  Sally Saddler is School Board President.

“We anticipate receiving two budgets, one that would be presented by the administration and then one that would be recommended by the community members,” Saddler says, “and hopefully in that respect the board would have an opportunity as we deliberate in March to take the best of the thinking of the administration and the community members and see how that melds with our vision and our strategic plan for the district.”

The district anticipates about $1.25 million in reductions next year.

Saddler says it’s important to hear from the public before the administration presents its proposed spending plan.

“One of the reasons we’re taking public comment before we have an actual budget from the administration is to give people an opportunity to let us know what they value; what’s important from a community perspective without reacting to specific numbers on a piece of paper,” she says.

District Superintendent Glen Gelbrich will present the administration’s proposed spending plan at the next meeting of the budget committee.

Tonight’s public hearing is from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School Commons.  Comments also can be emailed to budgetsuggestions@juneauschools.org.