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School Board Anticipates State Cuts May Affect UCSD Budget

Greta Mart/KUCB

While state education funding remains in legislative limbo, the Unalaska City School District has approved a $7.1 million budget that officials hope will cover next year’s deficit.

The board of education passed the FY18 financial plan unanimously on Thursday.

It allows the district to dip into its savings for $269,000, anticipating the state and the City of Unalaska will split the rest of the bill.

The state’s contribution is far from confirmed, though. Alaska lawmakers are still battling over the state budget, and they’re considering education cuts that could double the deficit.

If that happens, the school board could vote to pull more money from district savings or trim more fat from the budget. Either way, Board President Tammy Fowler Pound said they’ll almost certainly amend the budget once legislators gavel out.

“I’m sure we will be back here addressing whatever the Legislature does, so be prepared for that," Fowler Pound told the board Thursday. "I’ll probably shed a little bit of a tear, just so everybody knows.”

As it stands now, Business Manager Holly Holman said the FY18 financial plan is pretty similar to the current budget.

“It’s status quo as far as programs and people," said Holman. "I don’t want to say that we’re on easy street, because nobody is. We’re all needing to tighten our belts, but the board has been very forward-thinking and fiscally conservative.”

Holman said expenses have only grown about two percent over the last year, mostly because of rising health care costs and utilities. The district’s revenue is expected to dip slightly, though, at less than two percent.

While they wait on the state budget, the school board will make its formal funding request to the City Council on Tuesday. The city is expected to contribute about $3 million.

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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