The Haines School Board approved a $4.8 million FY ’16 general fund budget last month that includes a $152,000 deficit.
School Board President Anne Marie Palmieri says the district will cover the deficit with money from its $730,000 in reserves. She says the district has a reserve fund in order to account for situations like this.
“My feeling about that is that we are really fortunate that we have a healthy reserve so that we can absorb a shortfall in our budget,” Palmieri said.
A decline in state funding is one reason for the shortfall. The Haines district is set to receive about $370,000 less this year than last year from the state.
Part of that reduction is due to declining enrollment. This year, the district had 268 students at its October enrollment count. Next year, the projected student count is 252. The school district gets a per-student allocation from the state. Fewer students mean less money.
“It’s unfortunate we have a deficit, but it’s fortunate we have a reserve,” Palmieri said. “And we’re hopeful that come October, we’ll have a lot more students than we had anticipated. So that’s what we hope.”
Palmieri says the school board approved the budget knowing it’s not final. That’s because certified staff contracts still need to be decided. Those negotiations were put on hold when the teachers’ union rejected a contract proposal in May. No negotiation meetings have been set since then.