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School Board May Dip Into Savings To Fund UCSD’s $7.7 Million Budget

Laura Kraegel

Despite growing enrollment, the Unalaska City School District is facing another year of lean finances.

The board of education took its first look at the 2019 budget on Thursday.

The proposal totals $7.7 million, which is about $600,000 more than last year.  

On the positive side, Business Manager Holly Holman said revenue is expected to increase — thanks to a projected enrollment of 400 students.

That’s a dozen more than last year.

"To say we’re over 400 now is really quite a milestone," said Holman. "Considering we were down to the 370s a couple of years ago and thinking we were going to go down even further."

Higher enrollment means more state funding, but expenses are on the rise, too.

Holman said the district is planning to hire two new teachers to keep up with growing class sizes, while the cost of utilities, staff salaries, and student travel continues to increase.

She's forecasting a budget deficit of almost $210,000.

The school board is expected to fill that gap by tapping into its $1.2 million fund balance, but President Tammy Fowler Pound said that money is just a temporary fix. 

"We only have so many years of using that," said Fowler Pound. "When that’s gone, then we're talking about cutting traveling, cutting supplies, and larger class sizes."

Fowler Pound said the district’s long-term financial stability will depend on whether the state can solve its own budget gap. It’ll also rely on the city’s continued support.

This year, the school board is planning to request $4.1 million from the City of Unalaska, which has a long tradition of contributing the maximum funding allowed by state law.

Board members will vote on the budget at their next meeting on March 8.

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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