Unalaska City Council votes unanimously to fully fund school district
In a unanimous vote, City Council members granted the Unalaska School District its full funding request of roughly $5 million for fiscal year 2023 — a 6.5% increase from last year.
While Councilman Thom Bell ultimately voted in favor, he said he originally hoped for just a 3% increase. He said it sends a bad message to city employees when the city reduces internal spending, but grants full funding to other organizations who aren’t making similar cuts.
“I think it just shows bad optics for the council to get up here and [for] every other entity say, ‘Here, just take our money,’” Bell said.
The City Council also awarded community support grants to all of the local organizations that made requests at its Tuesday meeting.
The school district is expecting a drastic drop in student enrollment next fiscal year. And officials said that means they’ll be getting less money from the state.
Overall, the projected budget is about $8 million — less than a 2% increase from last year. Still, the budget has a deficit of more than $200,000. District officials said a large part of that is due to trying to combat learning losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peggy McLaughlin is the city’s port director and also a UCSD parent. At Tuesday’s meeting, she told councilors those efforts are invaluable.
“The school has done a tremendous job with limited resources,” McLaughlin said. “Coming out of COVID, our kids are struggling and they need some of these social and art programs to get back on track.”
The city’s $5 million contribution to the school is this year’s maximum request amount.