“The reason why the multiyear funding plan is so important to us is it changes the conversation during our budget process from how many programs can we afford and how many (full time equivalents) may we have to cut and all the uncertainty that surrounds not knowing exactly what we’ll be funding next year to what initiatives can be undertaken,” Fulp said.
“It helps us in that it allows us to introduce financial planning into the budget development process,” he said. “We know what we’re going to get from the state and each of the … subsequent years and instead of talking about what we may or may not have in the next year we’re able to implement strategies and plans.”
Fulp said from the state’s perspective it helps them to know that the districts are negotiating responsibly, because they know they’re not going to get more from the state than what is out there in statute.
One of the multiyear funding bills, Senate Bill 73, would run for two years and includes increases to both the special needs factor and the base student allocation funding, resulting in about a $1 million increase for the Kodiak school district.
“This is the most generous offer that’s out there right now as far as multiyear funding plans and it’s two years,” Fulp said.
House Bill 143 is a three-year funding plan that incorporates the Consumer Price Index based in Anchorage into the increases for fiscal year 2013 and 2014.
“For (fiscal year 2012) alone it would mean right around $810,000 increase to what we can anticipate,” Fulp said.
Lastly, Senate Bill 84, introduced by the Senate Education Committee, is a three-year funding plan. It, too, would be an increase, adding about $680,000 to the fiscal year 2012 budget, which includes a vocational education credit.
“None of these bills have seen any action,” Fulp said. “There was a hearing scheduled for Senate Bill 84 this morning and that meeting got canceled, so at this point none of these bills have even been heard.”
These multiyear funding bills are the ones that the district will support, KIBSD superintendent Stewart McDonald said.
“If we get it, it’s going to be a pretty big deal,” McDonald said of the bills.
Not only would it be a big deal to the district, but also to the Kodiak Island Borough, the major funding source for the school district.
“If one of these were to pass and make it out of the session and actually become law, then it would possibly change the amount we’re requesting from the Kodiak Island Borough. It would decrease the amount we need to balance our budget,” Fulp said.
A different education bill of interest has to do with the breakfast and lunch programs.
Senate Bill 3 could impact the food service budget by $30,000 if it passes.
“Currently there is no state aid for our food service program for the free and reduced meals that we serve,” Fulp said. “This bill proposes to add 35 cents for breakfast and 15 cents for lunch for those free and reduced eligible students.”
Roughly 120,000 free or reduced lunches and 38,000 free or reduced breakfasts are served in a school year.
That would be a boost to the food service budget. Currently about $160,000 is transferred from the operating budget to supplement all the costs in the food service program.
The bill has made it out of the Senate Education Committee, been approved by Senate Finance and was adopted by the Senate on Feb. 28.
“So this definitely does have legs … It looks like this one will go through,” Fulp said.
The legislative session is scheduled to end around April 18, Fulp said, and the end of the session will result in more movement from the funding formula bills.
Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.