Juneau School District will cut 2 positions, dip into savings to fill budget gap

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Juneau School Board President Deedie Sorensen at a board meeting on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. (Katie Anastas/KTOO)

The Juneau School District will eliminate two staff positions and change the way others are funded to address a budget deficit caused by Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s education funding veto.

The district will eliminate one administrative job and one position in HomeBridge, the district’s homeschool program. In an interview, Administrative Services Director Cassee Olin said neither cut will lead to a layoff — the HomeBridge staffer is retiring, and the administrative position was new and hasn’t been posted yet.

“We held it back because of these very reasons,” Olin said.

The district built its budget around a $430 increase to the base student allocation, the state’s per-student funding formula. But last month, Dunleavy vetoed half of the Legislature’s $175 million, one-time funding increase for public schools. That left the district with a $758,000 shortfall.

Eliminating the administrative position will save $140,000, and the HomeBridge position will save $110,000. Other savings will come from changing the way positions are funded. The district will fund four teaching positions using pandemic aid funding, freeing up $396,000 in general funds. 

The district’s budget had already used $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding to pay for some teachers and online classroom materials. But that funding expires at the end of this fiscal year, so district leaders will have to find another way to fund those positions.

Those changes still leave the district with a $112,000 shortfall. They’ll use some money from savings to fill that gap. Olin said that will leave the district with about $500,000 in savings – “a pretty low number for us.” 

District leaders around the state have spent the last few weeks adjusting their budgets in the wake of Dunleavy’s veto. The Kenai Peninsula School District is using savings to fill its budget gap. The Kodiak Island Borough School District is using about half of its remaining savings and reducing spending on supplies and maintenance.

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