Finance committee weakens school district funding request, sends to next step

The Juneau School District may get an extra $250,000 for school facilities maintenance from the City and Borough of Juneau.

It’s a fraction of what the district asked for, but Juneau schools Superintendent Mark Miller said it’s enough to pay for one item on the school district’s wish list.

“They said, ‘Well you were going to spend about $250,000 of that on facility maintenance’ – repairing water heaters, carpets and that kind of thing,” Miller said. “‘And so we’ll go ahead and give you that money, but we’re going to give it to you in a fund that you can only use to spend it on facilities.’”

District officials had asked the Assembly to increase local funding to the full amount allowed by state law to help pay for building repairs, and science and computer equipment.

A near $3 million increase in state funding, triggered by unexpectedly high enrollment, allows the CBJ to spend up to an additional $650,000 on Juneau schools.

Miller said he is grateful to the Assembly because some money is better than no money, and the district needs to make the repairs. But, he said the district will have to put its other needs on hold.

“Unfortunately we can’t make that decision now. So right now, we just simply have to put it on hold and hope that the numbers improve a little bit next year so we can afford to do it,” Miller said.

Assemblywoman Maria Gladziszewski, one of the four assembly members who voted against the change, said the funding request should have waited until later this spring when the Assembly focuses specifically on budgeting.

The Juneau Assembly’s Finance Committee voted to draft an ordinance for the extra money on Wednesday last week. If the Assembly moves quickly, Assemblyman Loren Jones said the funding ordinance could be introduced at its Jan. 23 meeting and voted on in February.

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