Local News

School Board expresses frustration over borough funding

The School Board at a recent meeting.

The School Board at a recent meeting.

The Ketchikan School Board talked funding at its meeting Wednesday night. The Board is about a month away from handing off next school year’s budget to the Borough Assembly for approval.

Superintendent Robert Boyle said that lower levels of funding from both the state and the borough make it difficult to stay positive about next school year’s budget.

But he said the school district’s finances are strong enough that Ketchikan is not looking at any significant cuts to core staff.

School Board members expressed their frustration with the Borough Assembly, which has decreased its school district funding the past few years.

“I know what the borough can afford, and it’s even easier when you look at their reserves again,” said Board Member David Timmerman. “So as we cut and cut and cut in these times of things costing more, we have to bear that whole thing on the shoulder of the district.”

Board Member Colleen Scanlon said she feels the borough is holding the School Board hostage over funding.

“We were elected by the citizens of this community to establish this budget and for them to be micromanaging us is just plain wrong,” Scanlon said.

The school district is still waiting on some funding variables. For one, state funding for base student allocation could increase.

As the budget stands now, the biggest funding cut is in the district’s preschool program. The program would still run, but with fewer teachers, fewer classrooms and shorter hours.

The School Board quickly approved Shannon Sines as the new curriculum director for the school district. She’ll take over for Linda Hardin, who is retiring.

“Ms. Sines comes to us with 16 years experience,” said Board Member Misty Archibald. “I think the starting salary of $103,000 is appropriate for her skill set and what she has to offer the district.”

The Board also decided to take a closer look at wellness policy revisions after student Board Member Evan Wick voiced his concerns.

The policy, which follows federal guidelines, requires concessions sold at events during the school day to meet certain nutrition requirements; requirements that popular concession foods like nachos and candy would probably not meet. Wick said this would take away from fundraising opportunities for sports and other school groups.

“I quite frankly am appalled by some of the things that are in here,” Wick said. “And I believe there’s a way to fight obesity and then there’s micromanaging. And in my person opinion, micromanaging is exactly what this is.”

However, going against the guidelines could put the school district in jeopardy of losing federal support for the school lunch program. More discussion on that is likely at the next School Board meeting on April 9th.

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