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Dillingham's school district to receive more funding from city, less from state


Governor Dunleavy halved the state’s one-time public school funding increase earlier this month - his single biggest cut to next year’s budget. Representative Bryce Edgmon sees reaching consequences for the cut.

“I think our school districts are at a point where all these rising costs, including inflation, and in the post COVID era, really are coming home to roost, and are going to take their toll,” he says.

In Dillingham, however, school district business manager Phil Hulett says the district doesn’t allocate one-time funding before it’s in the district’s bank account.

“We never budget it until we receive it. That way, we're not scrambling around trying to figure out how we’re going to cover if we don’t receive it,” he says.

According to Hulett, the district plans to put the state’s one-time increase, now approximately $360,000 in funds, toward next year’s contract negotiations.

But Hulett says even if it remained intact, the one-time increase is not a permanent solution, and that the base student allocation from the state isn’t enough to support schools’ needs.

“What it all boils down to is a lot of us just don’t have the funds to get quality teachers and quality programs because we don’t have the funding to produce it and to go forward in a sustainable way,” he said. “We get one-time funding so we can take a big leap. But then there’s no more money to support it.”

He says that when the state’s funding isn’t sufficient for the district, they have to depend more on the city.

“The BSA has been flat funded for several years. Inflation has gone through the roof. Our costs keep going up. And the formula has to be affected,” Hulett said. “And until that is done, then we put more pressure on local governments and local entities to help us to be able to meet that shortfall.”

Earlier this month, the Dillingham City Council voted to amend next year’s budget and fund the district at $1.7 million - the first increase in several years. The decision comes after months of testimony and comment from the district on the risk of cuts to extracurriculars and the arts program. Hulett says that with the additional city funding, the district can balance their budget within $50,000.

The city funds the district from three sources: property taxes, one percent of sales tax revenue, and, as in this year, from the city’s general fund. It had originally allocated $1.4 million to the district, which Hulett says reflects the increase in sales and property taxes. The district was planning on splitting money in their reserved and unreserved funds to make up the difference, before the additional funding.

The council now needs to approve the amended resolution for the school funding. It will hold a special meeting on Thursday, June 27. The action memorandum is on the agenda.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Christina McDermott began reporting for KDLG, Dillingham’s NPR member station, in March 2023. Previously, she worked with KCBX News in San Luis Obispo, California, where she focused on local news and cultural stories. She’s passionate about producing evocative, sound-rich work that informs and connects the public.