FY25 Proposed Budget Letter to Families | February 2024
Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2024
Subject: FY25 Proposed Budget
Dear district families,
I wanted to take this opportunity to share information from the fiscal year 2025 proposed budget with you. Due to inadequate education funding, the school district faces making unprecedented cuts to balance its budget.
Balancing the budget means making painful tradeoffs that affect the education our students receive. My own children attend school here in our district and I want them, and all our students, to have the best education possible. Please know that we explore every option before resorting to the reductions you’ll find in the proposed budget and that the reductions were not made lightly. The school board and I welcome input from stakeholders as we work through creating a recommended budget to send over to the borough in the next month. By working as a team, we can navigate these challenges while still empowering students’ growth and achievement.
Video: Superintendent Dr. Luke Meinert and Chief Operations Officer Andy Degraw share about the budget process and challenges the school district faces this year.
Here is some information regarding the proposed budget:
The school district receives approximately 60% of its funding from the State of Alaska through a per student amount known as the Base Student Allocation (BSA). The BSA has not seen a meaningful increase since 2017. Meanwhile, district costs have continued to increase every year. Without reliable increased funding this has meant repeated years of reductions.
FY25 Proposed Deficit
The school district is entering FY25 with a $29 million deficit. In the proposed budget we are assuming some increased funding from both the State and the Borough, however, we are still assuming a $16 million deficit that we will need to make reductions to balance.
FY25 Proposed Reductions
Class size increases ($7.5 million) - Unfortunately, roughly 86% of the district’s budget is essentially people. This means that when cuts need to be made, it’s positions that have to be reduced. With such a large deficit, we’ve made hard decisions to increase class size and reduce teacher positions. The FY25 proposed Pupil-to-Teacher Ratios are:
Kindergarten - 25:1 (no change)
Grades 1-5 - 25:1 increased to 30:1
Grades 6-8 - 27:1 increased to 32:1
Grades 9-12 - 30:1 increased to 35:1
Two School Closures ($3.6 million) - School closures is an emotional, difficult topic, but one we have to address when faced with our financial reality. It’s more important than ever that our district operates efficiently so that we can provide the best education possible to our students.
Contract Out Custodial ($1.5 million) - Many organizations in the city and borough contract out their custodial services. It would be a way to offer the same or very similar services at a significantly reduced cost. All schools would continue to have a day custodian as well as evening custodians who clean the building. The cost savings would be utilized to avoid additional cuts to student services.
Administration Cuts ($600,000) - These cuts are a combination of cuts at the administrative center downtown and two assistant principal positions located at Lathrop and West Valley. As you may have noticed over the past several years, as cuts occur at the administrative center, services offered to support schools have slowed or stopped.
What’s Next (Learn more about the )
The school board will dive into the proposed budget over the course of this month, which will lead to the development of the FY25 Recommended Budget. The recommended budget will be published on April 1 and submitted to the Borough Assembly. After funding from the Borough and State is finalized, the FY25 Approved Budget will passed, likely in May or June.
Advocating for Public Education
If you would like to help encourage the State to increase public education funding, you can do the following:
Encourage the borough assembly to pass the ordinance calling for a special tax cap election
Engage in the tax cap election process that could bring $10 million dollars to the school district
Thank you for all you do to partner with the school district and your school to ensure your student receives an excellent education.
Dr. Luke Meinert