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Anticipating cuts, district asks for public participation in budget process


It will be a while before the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District knows for sure how much it will have in its budget next fiscal year.

But the process is in motion.The district is holding public forums later this month to educate people on the budget process and crowdsource information about funding priorities.

Already, it’s drafted a preliminary budget for FY22.

“But it is just a draft," said school board president Zen Kelly.

“And so, there’s a lot of moving parts. The biggest moving parts are our funding level from the borough.”

The borough assembly and school board have already started meeting to talk about funding. At the most recent work session earlier this month, the board said it would ask the borough for $50 million.

That’s how much the district is getting from the borough this fiscal year. It’s a revision from the $53 million it requested for FY22 at an earlier budget meeting.

The borough administration countered with $45 million. It cited decreased sales tax revenue as a reason for that proposal.

“The other big factor that swings widely is our enrollment," Kelly said.

Most of the district’s funding comes from the state, which is dependent on annual student enrollment.

As a result of the pandmeic, fewer students are enrolled in the peninsula’s brick-and-mortar schools. The district receives 10 percent less funding for each student enrolled in Connections Homeschool.

“I don’t want to be alarmist," Kelly said. "But because of the decrease in enrollment that we’re looking at, and because of the potential decrease coming in the level of funding from the borough, it could be a different landscape for FY22."

The budget forum for the central peninsula is March 23. The eastern peninsula forum is March 18 and the southern peninsula forum is March 22. All are at 6 p.m., on Zoom

You can read the district's preliminary budget here.

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