On Saturday, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly and School Board held a joint policy work session. It was their first direct meeting since February of 2012. The groups agreed to meet directly to discuss issues that caused friction in the past.
One of the biggest points of friction has been the school district’s submission of its budget to the Borough Assembly. School Board Member Colleen Scanlon expressed a desire to get past this sticking point, but used the meeting to air grievances. Addressing the assembly Scanlon said, “we were elected to manage the school and, yes you oversee our spending authority but I don’t think you should be overseeing every line item and how we distribute these expenses.”
Borough Assembly members felt that the information the school board provided did not meet their needs. In order to solve this, the two organizations’ liaison committee will develop a form to fit the needs of both groups in time for the upcoming budget process.
The borough is expected to provide 8.1 million dollars to the school district for the 2016 fiscal year.
Another topic discussed was maintenance costs for school facilities. The buildings are owned by the borough, but traditionally have been maintained by the school district. The groups agreed to combine maintenance of all borough-owned facilities, including schools. The liaison committee will explore the details of the new arrangement.
School Board member Ralph Beardsworth said the best thing to come out of the meeting was simple: “The borough got to hear the school board, and the school board got to hear the borough and it wasn’t a hearsay situation. Everything’s direct.” Assembly Member Todd Phillips agreed the best thing to come out of the meeting was a renewed sense of cooperation.
Saturday’s work session completed the Assembly’s two-day policy planning session. More on the session here.