SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Ketchikan School District's Budget Slush Fund

By Agnes Moran


March 05, 2016
Saturday PM

In 2009, in a show of good faith towards the Ketchikan School Board and District, the Borough Assembly increased the amount of unreserved, undedicated funds the School District could carryover each year to 5% of that year’s total school district budget. The change was made to give the District an additional budget management tool.

In FY2009, the District’s undedicated reserve was $827,592. By FY2015, the undedicated reserve had increased by more than 76% to $1,460,525, and is on track to reach comparable levels this fiscal year. These funds, per the District’s audited financial statement, “may be used to meet the Districts (sic) ongoing obligations to students, teachers, citizens and creditors.” So why are they not being used as such?

What started out as a budget management tool has turned into a slush fund. Each year the District claims they have included all of the undedicated reserve in the current budget projections, yet each year their audited financial statements show their undedicated reserve amount growing. Either they are inflating projected costs or understating revenues and carryover, or both. In either case, the end result is the same, the District, at the School Board’s direction, is sitting on funds that should be spent to benefit our children.

The District has more than enough funds to cover the roughly $900,000 of items under the “red line” and still have undedicated reserves available. The Borough Assembly is not refusing to fund these items, the School Board is.

The School Board has chosen, as it does every budget cycle, to extort more money out of the community by placing high interest items, such as Activities, Kanayama, Jack Cotant, etc. under the “red line”. The District has more than sufficient funds to pay for these items for our children, yet they refuse to do so. The School Board would rather sit on the money and cause dissension in the community, than do the right thing and spend the funds on our children.

So if you lobby the Borough Assembly to fund Activities (and any other items you care about), ask them to fund them as a dedicated grant. This is the only way the community can be guaranteed that the monies will be spent on Activities and other high interest items rather than being used to increase the District’s slush fund. The School Board and this school administration have consistently demonstrated that they would rather engage in political hijinks than fund the items that directly benefit our children.

When more than 1 out of 5 of our children are failing to graduate, the time for the School Board’s political hijinks is over.

Agnes Moran
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received March 05, 2016 - Published March 05, 2016


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