Borough school district unsure of upcoming budget

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is beginning to form its next budget for the fiscal year 2020, but with both the state and borough tightening their budgets, the school district has more questions than answers.

At Monday’s school board work sessions, Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones said the district does not currently have a solid idea for the general fund budget for 2020.

“I’m kind of laughing at the start of the FY20 budget because if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry,” Jones said. “Unfortunately for the folks in Alaska and the folks in the Kenai Peninsula school district, we’re looking at the FY20 budget and we’re really not sure what’s going to happen at this point in time because there are a lot of financial questions.”

Jones pointed out that Gov. Mike Dunleavy has plans to balance the state budget. With no additional revenue sources, the state will likely cut expenses to balance the deficit. The district may only receive the Base Student Allocation of a flat $5,930 from the State of Alaska Foundation Funding Formula.

“It will be interesting to see what happens,” Jones said.

The student enrollment projection for FY20 is 8,681 students.

Last year, the Legislature passed $30 million in one-time funding for districts in the state. The district would get $2.1 million of it, and Jones said the district is assuming that the $2.1 million be included and available for the FY20 budget.

The district is also expecting flat funding from the borough.

“In our conversations with our mayor, the mayor has indicated to us that his budget will include less funding for the school district in the coming year,” Jones said. “He did not give us a specific amount, but he said it would be south of the current amount we’ve been receiving.”

Expected revenues for the FY20 general fund is estimated to be $142,588,810.

The FY20 expenditure budget was developed using the same staffing formulas from FY19. Salaries and benefits compromise 80 percent of total expenditures. The total for estimated expenditures for FY20 is $142,371,983.

The district is waiting to see the governor’s state budget, which will be released in mid-February.

At the work session, school board member Zen Kelly urged the board to watch the governor’s State of the State next week and to keep their eyes out for the Feb. 15 release of the governor’s budget.

“We’re going to learn a lot in the next 31 days about where we need to head,” Kelly said.