Last Thursday, February 21st our Seward Site Base Council (along with site councils across the Peninsula) was given an extremely difficult task. In light of Governor Dunleavy’s proposed cuts to education in our state budget, we had to prioritize reductions for our KPBSD schools for the 2019-20 school year. Our District is required to approve a budget by April 1st based on the governor’s proposal (unless the legislature makes a decision before then, which is unlikely). The governor’s budget proposal cuts 25% of the funding from our schools–around 20 million dollars.
We were given ten items to prioritize, and put them in order according to what spending should be cut first. 1) School consolidation, 2) Travel, 3) Theatres, 4) Pools, 5) Computers, 6) Sports, 7) Programs, 8) Class size, 9) Support staff, 10) Staffing. Our council agreed that the teacher/student connection is the most important aspect of education, and that cutting classroom positions (Staffing) should be the last place to make cuts. However, over 80% of the total budget is teacher salaries’ so cuts there would be inevitable if the governor’s proposed budget is passed.
What can you do?
- Attend the district budget work session in Seward, Tuesday, February 26th, 6:00 PM at the high school.
- Contact our State legislators and those on the Finance Committee. Email, call, and write letters! Go to www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/communications.aspx?id=30098 for all legislators and their emails.
- Fill out the short survey online that Senator Micciche has published. Go to www.facebook.com/SenatorPeterMicciche.
- Contact our Borough Representative, Kenn Carpenter, email@example.com .
- Contact our school board representative, Lynn Hohl, at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The second update from Site Base Council involves potential cuts to staffing at both Seward High and Seward Elementary—even if there are no cuts from the state. Because our schools are allotted a certain amount of funds based on our student numbers, we get into trouble if enrollment decreases. For example, Seward High has an enrollment projection for next year that is approximately 20 students less than our current funding allows. This translates to a 1.5 FTE (Full Time Employee) reduction in staff at this school next year. This will leave the remaining 8 teachers having to cover the Counselor position, Art, and some Science classes. This will significantly reduce the number of classes that will be available to our students next year.
Seward Elementary also has an enrollment projection that will be lower and this will cause a loss of 1.0 FTE.
Our community is smaller than Soldotna, Kenai, and Homer, but we are all funded using the same formula. This formula often leaves our smaller schools with a major loss in core teachers as smaller classes of kids move up through our schools. Our site council identified this as a problem with the funding formula several years ago and we have been asked the District Administration and School Board to look into these inequities—so far with little results.
What can you do?
- When you talk to our District School Board members about the Budget, let them know how you think losing teachers in the above positions will affect your student/s. We need to request a base level of acceptable staffing to be incorporated into the formula. This would give our schools consistency by covering core classes and programs at our schools.
- Be informed. The next Site Base Council meeting will be held March 21st, 6:30 PM at the Elementary School, and all are welcome to attend.