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Despite state funding uncertainty, Juneau School Board passes budget

The Juneau School Board approved an operating budget for fiscal year 2020 at a special meeting on March 26, 2019. (Photo by Zoe Grueskin/KTOO)
The Juneau School Board approved an operating budget for fiscal year 2020 at a special meeting on March 26, 2019. (Photo by Zoe Grueskin/KTOO)

The Juneau School District Board of Education approved a budget for fiscal year 2020 at a special meeting Tuesday night.

The spending plan now goes to the Juneau Assembly for review. It could pass without changes, but as Juneau School Board Vice President Dan DeBartolo explained, one big question looms over the process: What is the Legislature going to do?

The Juneau School District built the budget with a big assumption in mind: The Legislature will not lower the base funding to public schools or remove the one-time $30 million grant it approved last spring. Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s state budget proposals would do both.

DeBartolo said he is not confident the board’s work is over.

“If the Legislature cuts even 1 percent of public school funding,” he said, “We will be back at the table immediately, because it forces us to move that line up, and something is gonna have to drop off.”

Still, as currently written, next year’s budget largely maintains the status quo for Juneau schools.

“The big surprise this year is that we didn’t have to change very much,” said Sarah Jahn, the director of administrative services for the school district.

The total approved budget accounts for about $71 million.

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