Dillingham School Board to consider draft FY '17 budget

Feb 23, 2016

The proposal would cut four full-time teachers, among other things. The school board will also consider a separate version of the budget without the MAP school. 

The Dillingham school district is taking a first crack at its FY '17 budget. The proposal would cut four full-time teaching positions, among other things. 

The draft budget represents a 5% reduction, or a gap of nearly $450,000 dollars. Dillingham Superintendent Danny Frazier says that gap is caused by a few factors, not least of which is the increasing costs of benefits and salaries for existing staff members.

"We have rising insurance cost, which could go as high as 36%. We have teacher salaries which go up, that’s an average of 2.54%," Frazier explained. "So status quo is never status quo. We still have rising cost to do business."

On top of those rising costs, the district is looking at declining enrollment. Frazier expects the district's head count to drop by a few, which will reduce the amount the district's revenue from the Base Student Allocation, the amount the state gives the district per student.

And of course, the district is keeping an eye on Juneau, where lawmakers say K-12 education is still on the table for deeper cuts.

"Last night the House sent their version of budget over to the Senate," said Frazier. "It did take out the $50 that the Governor left in there, so we will not be getting any kind of raise to the Base Student Allocation." 

The draft proposal would make up over half of the $450,000-dollar-gap by cutting two certified teachers at the elementary school and two at the middle/high school. It would also leave a clerk and a teacher position unfilled in the special education department.

Another cost-saving idea being quietly floated is to make major changes to -- perhaps do away with -- the Maximum Achievement Program, the alternative high school that has operated separately from DHS for more than ten years.

Though that has not been formally proposed by the board or the district, several teachers tried to head off the idea, testifying to the school board Monday in support of keeping the MAP school as it is now.

"Please keep in mind that all students don't learn the same, and don't thrive in the same environment," said John Montooth, a teacher at the MAP school. "Please keep that in mind when you're dealing with your budget cuts." 

The school board will look at a version of the budget without the MAP school in a closed meeting March 7th.

That day is also the next opportunity for the public to comment on the draft budget, March 7th at 6 p.m. in the district's central office. 

The school board plans to revise and adopt a budget by March 21st.