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Unalaska school district receives positive feedback with yearly financial audit

Maggie Nelson
The audit revealed a total deficit of about $140,000 for fiscal year 2022, which is slim compared to this year’s projected deficit of more than half-a-million dollars.

The Unalaska City School district was in compliance with financial regulations, according to findings of an audit looking back at fiscal year 2022.

Altman, Rogers & Co. — an Alaska-based accounting and auditing firm — performed the yearly inspection, which is meant to make sure the district is following protocol and properly handling public funds.

The firm reported a total deficit of about $140,000 for fiscal year 2022, which is slim compared to this year’s projected deficit of more than half-a-million dollars. That amount is almost triple the deficit the district anticipated in the spring.

Superintendent Jim Wilson said the increase in the deficit is due to multiple factors including salary and wage increases, but it’s mostly from skyrocketing energy costs. While those costs are affecting schools across the nation, Wilson said this is the largest deficit he’s seen during his 10 years in administration and likely the largest the district has ever seen.

Despite this year’s expected deficit, Brian Kupilik, an accountant with the firm, told the school board at a meeting Dec. 14 that the district is in good compliance with state and federal guidelines, at least for fiscal year 2022.

“It speaks really highly to the internal control of [UCSD] over their state grants and programs that we didn't have any issues that needed to be communicated,” Kupilik said. “All in all, the big summary is that it's a clean audit.”

According to the audit, the current fund balance totals nearly $954,000. That’s more than the usual state-allowed limit, which is 10% of the current year’s expenditures. But that percentage limit was temporarily removed during the COVID-19 pandemic so the district is able to keep a greater amount — at least for now.

The district has more than enough money in that fund balance to cover this year’s large deficit. However, Wilson said eventually the budget committee will have to make some cuts.

Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses.
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  • Like many school districts across Alaska, spikes in energy costs have Unalaska City schools looking at a major budget deficit. In combination with flatlined state funding, enrollment drops and increased teacher salaries, the island’s deficit is predicted to take the shape of around a-half-million dollars. Superintendent Jim Wilson presented a budget update to the Unalaska school board on Oct. 19 that includes a $535,000 anticipated deficit. This is the biggest deficit he’s seen in his 10 years as the high school principal, and likely one of the largest deficits the district has ever seen, he said.
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