The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is getting ready to prepare its annual budget.
Superintendent Sean Dusek spoke to a joint meeting of the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce Wednesday with a focus on the district’s teaching and support staffs.
“Then I’ve got these guys here and you may not recognize any of them. That’s the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District IT department. All the tech guys. The guys that basically run a world-renowned IT department. They’re all graduates of our school district. That to me is one of the most impressive stories our school district can provide. These guys should be working for Google and Apple and making millions of dollars.”
Education budgets across the state are tight and on the Kenai Peninsula. That’s not helped by slowly declining enrollment here, which means fewer dollars from the state. Flat budgets the past few years have led to fewer reductions in staff, but the district is still operating in a deficit.
“We have adjusted our certified staffing, but mostly because of enrollment. We were fortunate that we were able to secure additional funding from the Borough and flat funding from the state, that allowed us to reinstate some of our cuts this past year so that we can continue some of our programs that are showing results. We’re hopeful that will continue, but we have had some staffing cuts.”
Dusek says despite Borough voters rejecting a ballot initiative that would have put millions toward education, the District still enjoys strong support.
“I believe that the voters value our system and believe in it for the most part. We will make it work, because the kids are still going to be coming in August, regardless if we have maximum funding or whatever it is. We have to work together. Things are tight. Costs are always rising. We do look for ways to be more efficient and effective at the same time. I’m sue this issue will be revisited, but so far, our Borough does a great job supporting us.”
Over the next few months, the District will be crafting a budget which, as always, will be determined in the end by decisions made in Juneau.