Students head back to class next Tuesday in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Let’s get ready with a little math.
At its Aug. 6 meeting, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved its fiscal year 2019 budget, which necessitated shaving about $523,000 from expenditures.
Many of the line items represent vacant positions that will not be filled, with duties shifting onto other departments or personnel. This includes $115,500 for a purchasing supervisor, $29,000 in school administration and $120,000 for a district art specialist.
Several school board members voiced heartburn over the loss of the art position.
“It concerns me greatly that this is something that we’re losing and I am concerned that art is a very import thing in the classroom and I worry we’re going to set ourselves up long term for some problems,” said Dan Castimore.
Dr. Christine Ermold is director of professional development for KPBSD. She says the district has been training all its elementary teachers to be able to deliver content in supplemental areas — art, physical education and health — so they’ll take up art instruction.
Ermold says this district was able to round up a part-time art position in Seward to full time. That position will provide art instruction to small schools via videoconferencing and other distance-learning tools, they just won’t be able to visit students in person.
Two budget cuts delay purchases — $15,000 for extra-curricular safety equipment and $100,000 for the home-school Connections program. Extracurricular stipends are trimmed by about $24,000. Finally, about $120,000 comes from reductions in travel budgets for extra-curriculars, state tournaments, district office and administrators.
“All three of the travel reductions will have some level of impact on our students because all of these travel sources were used in support of the schools. For example, for state tournament travel, students will likely end up having to do some additional fundraising,” Ermold said.
Ermold encourages the community to get involved in the district’s budget process, which begins in January.
“Being involved in that process and giving input into where people would like us to focus reductions and expenditures is really important because the feedback that we receive regularly from our site councils, that’s what is used to determine the reductions that we make,” she said. “And while reductions don’t make anybody happy and they’re not things that we want to have to cut, we do have to live within our means and so we appreciate the input to help us do that.
More information on the school district’s budget can be found on the Finance page at kpbsd.k12.ak.us.