The Assembly has signaled support for funding the Sitka School District’s budget to the cap, or the maximum allowable by state law.
When the group met on Thursday (4-7-22) it voted to formally notify the school board of its funding allocation – over $8.8 million. That number includes around $7.9 million in instructional funding, and nearly $1 million in non-instructional funding such as $150,000 for maintenance of school buildings, $122,000 for the Blatchley swimming pool, and up to $60,000 to cover utilities costs for the Performing Arts Center. It also includes up to $500,000 in Secure Rural Schools funds, if the funds are reauthorized. That’s money the city gets from the federal government to pay for schools and road maintenance.
Mayor Steven Eisenbeisz pointed out that with the addition of these non-instructional items, the assembly would be funding Sitka’s schools in excess of the state’s cap of around $7.9 million.
“And so we’re at $8.8. So we’re funding almost a million dollars over the cap,” Eisenbeisz said. “And I think that’s a very important part of the conversation as we go forward.”
The maximum local contribution to schools – or the cap – applies only to instructional expenses, however. In recent years, Sitka’s assemblies have approached non-instructional expenses differently – sometimes counting them against the cap, and sometimes not.
There was little discussion and no debate after assembly member Thor Christianson made a motion to notify the schools of the funding allocation. Member Kevin Mosher said he was fully behind it.
“And I think just we need to recognize too, it’s an investment in our community. It’s a large investment,” Mosher said. “And I think it’s worth it. [It] seems tough sometimes, but if we can afford to do it, let’s do it.”
The assembly unanimously approved the proposed funding breakdown for Sitka schools.