Superintendent Robert Boyle expressed optimism about the ongoing Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District budget process at the School Board’s regular meeting Wednesday. The budget has been a topic of much discussion for the last couple of months.

“Our budge is in very good shape for FY 14,” Boyle says. “Our programs and personnel are ready to go.”

The Borough Assembly has approved a budget that includes a little more than eight million dollars for the school district. That amount was $300,000 more than the board had been expecting.

The Assembly’s additional contribution, combined with about $300,000 more than initially expected from the state, will help to avert widely-feared cuts to staff and activities.

Not all School Board members were content with the developments, however. Board Member Colleen Scanlon drew attention to the budget passed by the School Board in April. That budget did not include some items the board believed should be paid by, or at least negotiated with, the borough.

Those items include snow removal at certain schools, building insurance on school buildings, and contractual services for use of borough facilities, such as the aquatic center.

Scanlon notes that the budget approved by the Assembly included those items.

“We voted to have those taken out of this budget and negotiated at a later time,
Scanlon says.

“Doesn’t that go against what we voted against? I just have a real issue with the building insurance and snow removal. I understand the need for building insurance, but they own the buildings, not us,” she says.

Superintendent Boyle pointed out that the ordinanceapproved by the Borough Assembly included those items. If the School Board took issue with the difference, he said, it could jeopardize the entire budget ordinance, including the extra $300,000 for the district.

Also Wednesday, the School Board approved a grant application for No Child Left Behind funds. The grant, in the form of Title I and Title II Funds, would total a little less than $800,000. Though the grant application will be revised many times before its final submission, Curriculum Director Linda Hardin notes that those funds likely will be less than previous years due to sequestration.

Principal Casey Robinson of Schoenbar Middle School also briefed the board on the ongoing investigation of last month’s hacking incident at that school. He says that, due to continuing upgrades to the computers after students had gained remote control of other machines on the server, students in Schoenbar’s One-to-One program were unlikely to have their computers returned this year.

Board Member Stephen Bradford suggested that a report be prepared on the effect of the loss of those computers to the childrens’ education, calling it a good case study on the success of the One-to-One program.

The board also celebrated a number of outgoing School District employees. Superintendent Boyle presented a plaque to some retirees who were present at the meeting. Robert Hammer, a physical education teacher at Kayhi who has served the district since 1979, reminisced about his experiences.

“I have enjoyed many interactions with so many parents and their children during this time, and feel honored with all the memories I’ll take with me,” Hammer says. “Over time the phrase gym time was changed to mean Hammer time.”

The Board also reaffirmed that the Kayhi graduation will take place this Sunday. The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. in the school gymnasium.