The Ketchikan School Board moved quickly though its meeting Wednesday night discussing a potentially devastating budget cut.
A week ago Monday Governor Bill Walker, after receiving a partially funded budget, vetoed what amounts to 72% of the state’s spending. That cut would eliminate 16 million dollars from the School District’s budget.
At last week’s Borough Assembly meeting, Superintendent Robert Boyle was asked how he would react if the cut remained.
“ My immediate response at the podium was I would cry and then I would come back on bended knee asking for more money. A little bit more salient conversation around that is to figure out what our options are. “
Boyle said he has looked into options and, if the cut remains, he suggests reducing all aspects of district operations instead of eliminating whole programs. He gave as an example a four day school week. He also discussed the possibility of bankruptcy citing the Copper River School District’s filing in 1986 after a 10% cut from the state. Boyle said he’s optimistic that the Legislature will submit a final budget by July 1st, but wanted to be proactive in thinking of other options.
“This is not a school district issue. This is not a Borough issue this is a state issue and it’s the governors cut to our budget of $16 million.”
Despite a potentially catastrophic cut, the Board moved forward as though funding would become available.
The Board unanimously voted to amend its budget to reflect current revenue, including the recently agreed to Borough contribution. The Board also approved a five-year contract for school bus transportation with First Student and added a half-time preschool position at Tongass School of Arts and Sciences. Trevor Shaw voted no on those motions.
The Board also took time to recognize retiring teachers, presenting them each with a plaque commemorating their time teaching in Ketchikan.
The next regularly scheduled School Board meeting is June 10th.