School Board saves positions with proposed budget

Published: Apr. 2, 2023 at 1:42 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District (FNSBSD) has come up with a proposed budget of $218,773,333. The proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 faces a deficit of just under $20 million, but the board was able to find funding for nearly half of the positions that were slated to be cut in the original proposal.

The original proposal from the school district cut nearly one hundred positions and programs. “We as a board came up with two scenarios to choose from,” said Erin Morotti, a member of the FNSBSD school board. The two scenarios the board came up with focused on retaining positions cut from the original budget proposal. After weeks of modifying the original budget, the board chose a hybrid option that “only cut about 50 positions,” Morotti said. The current proposal mostly retains educator positions and library staff, but tutors and certain administration personnel will still face layoff notices.

When deciding on this budget, “the first goal is providing the best service to students,” said Tim Doran, Vice President of the school board. He said the focus on retaining educators accomplishes more than job retention. It “minimiz[es] what we take away.” By retaining educators, the board was able to prevent increases to class sizes and provide a better work environment for both educators and students.

Doran, however, emphasized the district is still facing extreme financial hardships. “What needs to be realized is that we have cut tens of millions of dollars every year, in recent years,” Doran said. He estimates the district has lost over $50 million during that time.

The budget will next be reviewed by the borough, which is asked to give a larger contribution this year. After the review, the budget will go back to the school board for revision and then sent to the state.