Wrangell Public Schools is projecting a $370,000 budget deficit this year, but administrators say they are not planning any layoffs.
The $5.1 million proposed budget for FY23 is about $200,000 less than last year’s budget. The biggest hit to incoming revenues for the district is a projected $498,000 decrease in state funding in the coming fiscal year.
The district will also give Wrangell teachers at least a one percent raise next year under the terms negotiated by the teachers’ union, pay increased health insurance premiums for employees, and higher property and liability insurance rates next year.
But the instructional budget, administrative support services, and school administration budget items will all be lower next year. That’s because the school district says it will be using hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal pandemic relief to cover three staff positions over the coming two years: two principal positions (one for the elementary school, one for the middle and high schools) and a grant writer.
The district also won’t hire a replacement for retiring head teacher and assistant principal Bob Davis.
In the first budget draft, the $370,000 deficit is made up by spending about a third of the reserves in the school’s general fund.
Last budget cycle, the school district struggled with accounting for decreased enrollment during the pandemic, but enrollment numbers jumped back to a more normal range this year, with a total enrollment in the district of 257, as of the state’s October count. The district is using a similar number (an estimated 263 enrolled students) for its budget projections.
The school district’s first budget draft has the local government contributing about the same amount as last year: $1.48 million.
The budget process is overseen by the school district’s business manager, who was hired by the district late last year.
The school board will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (February 9). The district has until May 1 to submit its budget to the Wrangell Assembly which is charged with allocating funds to the school district.
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