Assembly puts nearly $29 million in local funds into the final budget for the Juneau School District

The Juneau School District offices. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)
The Juneau School District offices in 2014. (File photo/KTOO)

The City and Borough of Juneau approved next year’s budget for the district on Monday. 

But while city leaders ultimately voted to put more local funding into the school district than they did last year, it’s still getting less money overall. 

“The story of education funding in the state of Alaska over the last few years has been one of kicking the can down the road and playing hot potato with the economic bottom line,” said Chris Cairns. He’s an IT specialist with the school district and is also President of the Juneau Education Support Staff Union.

Cairns asked the assembly to approve the district’s request for funding above the state cap; he said the district needs the money.  

“Make no mistake that without these additional above the cap dispensations cuts, jobs will be cut and students will suffer,” he said.

That state cap on local funding is nearly $27 million. The borough assembly voted to fund to that level and then add just over $ 2 million more for things like food service, student transportation, community schools and student activities.

Assembly member Wade Bryson tried to trim from the district’s transportation budget. 

He says the crosstown busing service for students attending high schools outside their neighborhood is a  “financially irresponsible” expense.

“The cuts that have happened over the last 10 years will be the good old days because the cuts that come in the future are going to be much more severe. We already know the state’s in way worse shape and no savings,” said Bryson.

Bryson’s amendment failed — and the assembly ultimately approved an $88 million dollars budget for the school district — that includes funding from several different sources, not just the City and Borough of Juneau.