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Unalaska’s school district receives full funding from City Council

Laura Kraegel

Unalaska’s schools and nonprofits will receive the city’s full financial support in fiscal year 2024.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted 4-0 to grant the Unalaska City School District’s nearly $5.5 million funding request, including a new $140,000 earmark for student activities.

The city contribution is up from about $5 million this year. But city councilors said the local public schools are a priority, and they’re happy to continue the tradition of giving the maximum amount possible under state law — especially as state funding has remained flat in recent years.

“There’s no amount of money that is enough for education,” said Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson. “It is our future, and I just wholeheartedly support this resolution.”

Councilors also voted 4-0 to fully fund seven local organizations through the Community Support program, which awards city grants to nonprofits.

The resolution gives a total of $1.4 million to applicants including Unalaska Senior Citizens, Iliuliuk Family and Health Services, and the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association.

The council decided to consider an eighth application by the Qawalangin Tribe separately from the other requests.

The tribe is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, as required by the grant program. So councilors asked city officials to bring the request back at a future meeting, with support instead coming out of the city’s general fund.

The tribe’s $94,000 request would go toward expanding its signature summer culture camp, Camp Qungaayux̂, into a year-round program dedicated to the preservation of Unangan culture.

“I think it’s a great program,” said Councilor Daneen Looby. “I’m not in favor of not funding them, but they don’t belong here [in the Community Support program] right at this time.”

Councilors and city officials will continue refining Unalaska’s budget over the coming month.

As it stands, the city's roughly $32 million budget proposal could run up a deficit of nearly $7 million in fiscal year 2024. On Tuesday, though, councilors adopted a pared-back capital spending plan, and they’ve said they hope to close the budget gap even further.

The capital plan funds 14 projects deemed critical by the city, including paving on Captains Bay Road, construction of a new storage facility for public works equipment, and electrical upgrades that would eventually help Unalaska accept geothermal energy from Makushin Volcano.

The capital budget totals about $26 million. Almost $6 million will come out of the city’s general fund, and the rest will be covered through proprietary funds and outside grants.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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