KPBSD lays out its legislative goals

As the thirty second Alaska Legislature works towards the tip of the present session, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has its sights set on a number of items of laws it wish to see get throughout the end line.

KPBSD Superintendent Clayton Holland and Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff final week sat down with the Clarion to speak about a few of the district’s legislative priorities and the impression totally different payments would have on school rooms.

Among the payments the district is specializing in, are two that deal with the amount of cash the state offers faculty districts per pupil. That quantity, known as the Base Student Allocation, or BSA, hasn’t modified since 2017. The State of Alaska makes use of a instrument known as the Foundation Funding Formula to find out the BSA.

House Bill 272 would improve the Base Student Allocation from $5,930 — the present stage — to $6,208 over the following two years. House Bill 273 would construct on that by constructing yearly on the allocation by changes for inflation.

Under HB 272, the BSA would improve by $253 the primary yr and by $55 the second yr. A BSA improve of $253 for the 2022-2023 faculty yr would carry $3,854,470 to KPBSD. The following yr’s $55 improve would carry slightly below $1 million to the district for the 2023-2024 faculty yr.

That extra cash is particularly vital in gentle of projected funds deficits inside the district, Holland stated.

The district is projecting a status-quo funds deficit of about $7 million for the upcoming fiscal yr, which begins on July 1, 2022, and ends on June 30, 2023. Continued deficits are projected for future fiscal years, in accordance with the district. The faculty district kicked off funds negotiations with the Kenai Peninsula Borough earlier this yr, the place it requested $50 million from the borough. That could be along with contributions from the State of Alaska.

It would even be on prime of federal cash the district obtained through the COVID-19 pandemic from the federal authorities. In all, the district obtained three rounds of federal COVID-19 reduction cash, which comes from Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER funds:

The district used its first spherical of federal CARES Act ESSER funds — about $2.3 million — throughout fiscal yr 2021, which ended on June 30, 2021.

Roughly $9 million in ESSER II funds awarded below the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act was used to avoid wasting instructing positions through the earlier district funds cycle.

An extra $20 million was awarded to the district by ESSER III funding below the American Rescue Plan Act, 20% of which is required on the federal stage to assist catch up college students who fell behind academically through the pandemic.

Because the district has used a few of that federal cash to supplant its common funds, nevertheless, the district is taking a look at an upcoming drop-off in funding.

“With the federal funding we’ve been receiving … we are facing another financial cliff again,” Holland stated. “We’re operating currently on a $7 million deficit that we are really replacing by having the ESSER funding from the federal government.”

When federal funding goes away, Holland stated, that deficit equates to about 78 employees positions that the district will now not have the ability to afford. Among the strengths of HB 273, which might inflation-proof the BSA, is the potential for a long-term funding resolution that may assist offset the impacts of future funds deficits.

“We can’t operate the same way without inflation proofing and I think (HB 273) offers a long-term solution,” Holland stated.

If the HB 272 and HB 273 cross, Holland stated the corresponding bump in income for KPBSD would go towards stopping dropping greater than the district already has when it comes to what it might provide to college students. Priority could be given to no matter programming stands to have the best impression on college students, he stated.

In response to criticism that Alaska ranks extremely nationwide when it comes to spending per pupil and but has a few of the poorest training outcomes, Holland stated folks ought to take into account that mirrored within the quantity spent is the excessive value of doing enterprise in Alaska. When adjusted for the price of working in Alaska, Holland stated, the amount of cash spent per pupil is definitely akin to different states within the U.S., per a examine from the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.

Within the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Holland stated these larger prices of doing enterprise are seen within the cash the district wants to offer heating and electrical energy to buildings at 42 various faculties, not all of that are on the highway system.

“We’re a mini-Alaska on the peninsula with the type of schools that we have,” Erkeneff stated. “You have to barge water and barge supplies across the bay, or fly it to get it to the school site.”

Something else to contemplate, Erkeneff stated, is the extra prices that include making certain the identical alternatives can be found to all college students inside the district, no matter the place they reside. The district is at present working to increase its distant studying alternatives such that college students in, for instance, Cooper Landing and Seldovia may take the identical lessons regardless of their geographic separation.

“We look at equity too as being really important for what we’re offering,” Erkeneff stated. “We can’t have pockets where some students get everything and others students don’t.”

As it pertains to academic outcomes, KPBSD additionally has its eye on SB 111. That invoice, a part of which was first launched in 2020 because the Alaska Reads Act, goals to spice up outcomes and would come with funding for pre-Okay programming all through the state. Holland stated the worth of pre-Okay is seen within the abilities youngsters study that permit them to enter kindergarten on a stage just like that of their friends.

“There’s a lot of evidence to support it will work and provides a real long-term positive outcome,” Holland stated.

Whether funding for pre-Okay packages stays within the ultimate iteration of the laws stays to be seen.

Other payments the district is monitoring, Holland stated, are SB 220 and SB 225. SB 220, Holland stated, would give attention to the retention and recruitment of employees, whereas SB 225 focuses on creating extra pathways for folks to change into academics that would assist deal with shortages.

Another approach of gauging outcomes for the upcoming fiscal years will probably be standardized testing. The state is switching to the Alaska System of Academic Readiness, known as AK STAR, beginning this yr for college kids in grades 3-9, which Holland stated is focused towards gauging the expansion of every particular person pupil.

Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, stated Monday that lawmakers have made it clear they need to see any bumps in funding for training tied to higher academic outcomes. Within the Senate, SB 111 is laws Micciche stated is “important” to legislators.

Micciche stated that’s on par with messaging from Gov. Mike Dunleavy, who has indicated he’ll doubtless be reluctant to approve any extra cash for training with out proof that steps are being taken to enhance outcomes, similar to these described by SB 111.

“We, across the board, are looking for better outcomes,” Micciche stated.

Between now and the tip of the session, Holland stated the district will proceed to advocate for laws that may be advantageous for the KPBSD. The success of the varsity district, which is the biggest employer on the Kenai Peninsula Borough, is tied to the success of the borough’s economic system, Holland stated.

“Strong schools and a strong economy go hand in hand,” Holland stated. “The Kenai is in a position to have a strong economy … But to continue that trajectory involves having strong schools and supporting schools.”

Detailed details about every of the training payments at present earlier than the Alaska Legislature will be discovered at

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at

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