Chief School Administrator Karen Melin talks 2022-2023 budget proposal

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 4:57 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On April 1, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District presented its 2022-2023 budget proposal to the Borough Assembly for consideration; and on April 21, they are scheduled to present that proposed budget in front of the Borough Finance Committee.

With budget talks set to begin this month in the assembly, Chief School Administrator, Karen Melin discussed how this year’s proposal compares with past budgets.

The school district receives the bulk of its funding from the state, with the borough and federal governments also contributing. “All of those are dependent on the agencies that are giving it to us, so the state has their process that they fund us and the borough has theirs,” Melin explained.

She says this year, the district asks $2 million more from the borough than last year’s budget. “That’s what the board has requested of the borough, and then the borough will decide where they want to fall in that.”

Cuts were made to travel funds for both district staff and the school board.

District music staff are now funded through the recommended budget instead of the temporary CARES Act funding.

130 positions are expected to be cut from the school district, some that aren’t currently filled, others that are. “We tried to look across the district,” Melin said. “How many positions actually equal people, and how many positions we weren’t able to fill, and of those, could we eliminate?”

14 teaching assistants for Kindergarten classes were also cut.

Meanwhile, 16 additional teaching staff are being funded through CARES Act money to keep class sizes small, according to Melin. “That’s how we allocate staffing, so if a building has X number of students, they get X number of staff.”

Next year is also expected to involve tough choices. Melin said, “Next year is going to be difficult as well, possibly more, because next year our CARES money... we’ll be spending the last of it.”

The school district’s full budget proposal can be found here.

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