Board of Education approves 2017-2018 Recommended Budget
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education approved the school district 2017-2018 Recommended Budget at a March 30 special meeting in a 5-1 vote. The recommended budget must be transmitted to the Borough Assembly by April 1.
“We are following our Strategic Plan and investing in areas that will allow us to continue to provide a high quality education for our students,” said School Board Vice-President Michael O’Brien. “But no one likes this budget, even if it is a best case scenario.”
The Recommended Budget totals $245,120,637 and represents an increase of $3,785,320 or 1.6% over the district’s 2016-2017 approved budget. The Recommended Budget is based on Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s FY2018 proposed budget and reflects a small decrease in projected enrollment as well as a static level of state funding based on the Base Student Allocation (BSA).
The district faces several unresolved issues that could impact the budget. The legislative outcomes in response to the state revenue challenge and the level of local contribution that is yet to be determined could affect the revenue side of the budget.
The district is projecting a decrease of 121 students for a total projected enrollment of 13,700 for the 2017-2018 academic year. The decrease in projected enrollment equates to a $980,170 decrease in projected foundation funding from the state.
Alaska state statutes recognize that fluctuating local property values affect the local government’s ability to fund education, and that recognition is part of the state’s funding formula. The Borough’s January 2016 certified full assessed value determination increased from the prior year by $357 million. This increase in real and personal property valuation results in a decrease in state foundation revenue in the amount of $1,113,440 thus the recommended budget includes an increase in the request for local contribution of this same amount.
Also on the revenue side, the Recommended Budget includes a $2 million increase in anticipated federal impact aid and a $550,000 increase in Medicaid reimbursement. The budget includes $3.5 million use of the school district’s fund balance, a $1.67 million increase over 2016-2017.
The Recommended Budget reflects step movement and increases to salary scales based on newly ratified collective bargaining agreements for all employee groups. A restructure of the district’s health care benefit is expected to contribute to a 1 percent decrease in the health benefit contribution rate, saving approximately $1 million. The recommended budget also includes $2.8 million in anticipated transportation expenses that would not be covered by estimated state transportation funding.
The district Recommended Budget includes the following:
• Expansion of full-day kindergarten to the North Pole area elementary schools
• The return of instructional supports including principal positions at Salcha and Two Rivers, an Alaska Native Education aide at Hutchison, the return of full-time secretary positions at Hunter and Nordale, three English Language Learner (ELL) Program teachers, two ELL tutors, and the addition of four social workers.
• Funding for devices to support Personalized Learning in grades K – 8
• Addition of a payroll clerk
• Restructure of the communications, grants and print shop departments
• Transportation fund subsidy
• Nutrition services subsidy
• Increase to cover utilities costs
• Increase in salaries and benefits for all employees in 2017-18, as per negotiated agreements
• Reduction of elementary teachers due to a shift in staffing to new charter school, Boreal Sun
• Reduction of teachers due to declining enrollment
• Reduction of secondary teachers due to increased target class size
• Reduction of RTI-A’s due to completion of 3-year transition plan to MTSS
• Reduction of an accounts payable clerk
• Reduction of a mail clerk
• Reduction of a grounds mechanic
• Reduction of a 12-month custodian