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Sitka schools could face $1M+ deficit next year

The Sitka School District will probably have to bridge a $1.6 million budget gap when it starts planning next year’s finances.

School Board members said Tuesday they plan to take at least $500,000 out of reserves to address the shortfall. But that still leaves $1.1 million to find somewhere else in the budget.

Last year, Sitka Schools faced a $900,000 deficit. District officials managed to close the gap by making cuts to the budget and thanks to additional money received from the federal and state governments. The School Board must plan its budget before it knows how much money it will receive.

And this year there’s another X-factor. The school board is in negotiations with the two unions that represent teachers and hourly employees, such as secretaries and classroom aides. Board members met in closed session at the end of Tuesday’s meeting in order to discuss negotiating strategy.

Last night’s budget conversation took place a little earlier than it usually does in the year. That’s because district Business Manager Dave Arp is leaving his post next month. Superintendent Steve Bradshaw says budget hearings won’t begin in earnest until February.

The Sitka School District operates a general fund budget around $19 million. It employs about 200 people and serves about 1,300 students.

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