Board member Steve Whitney listens to budget discussion, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Board member Steve Whitney listens to budget discussion, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

A lot of talk results in little changes and a newly adopted budget

School board hashed out details before giving its new budget its final reading

Found money didn’t make budget discussions any easier for City and Borough of Juneau Board of Education.

Near the beginning of Tuesday night’s special meeting, Superintendent Bridget Weiss said more full-time middle school educators were budgeted for next year than are required based on the board-approved pupil to teacher ratio.

“In a sense, there were two positions in middle school on your sheet that you prioritized that based on the 23.5 PTR shouldn’t be there,” Weiss said.

That translates to about $215,000 that the board could decide to add to the district’s reserve or reallocate. The total expenditures of the budget that ultimately passed were about $71.12 million.

That generated some discussion among board members before the 2020 budget was given its final reading nearly two hours into the meeting.

Board President Brian Holst made a motion to cut the line item from the budget.

Holst said the reasoning behind the motion was that it essentially corrected an administrative mistake.

It passed after a few unsuccessful motions for amendments.

Board Vice President Dan DeBartolo made a motion to reserve the freed funds for ongoing labor negotiations based on comments from Juneau Education Association President Laura Mulgrew.

Mulgrew said during a public comment portion of the meeting the budget as proposed did not acknowledge ongoing negotiations with multiple unions and questioned whether the district was negotiating in good faith.

“I sincerely believe the district is negotiating in good faith,” DeBartolo said. “My intent is to acknowledge the good work that JEA and the other unions do. It’s not falling on deaf ears.”

[The Home Depot announces a hiring push]

Board members Jeff Short and Steve Whitney said they opposed the motion to allocate the funds to that specific purpose because it would lock up money while the district faces financial uncertainty while waiting to see the budget passed by the state.

They and other board members also acknowledged the validity of Mulgrew’s point and said the district is negotiating in good faith.

“I appreciate that they took the comments seriously,” Mulgrew saud during a brief recess in the meeting.

Board member Kevin Allen and DeBartolo were the lone members to vote in favor of setting aside the money for negotiations.

After that motion failed, DeBartolo advocated for preserving spending on middle school educators, but that that did not gain traction.

Ultimately $215,000 was essentially added to the district’s reserve bringing the projected reserve to $728,836, according to the budget.

Short also made a motion to cut a budgeted integration specialist in the spirit of adding to the reserve.

“It’s the same sick feeling I had last year looking at declining budgets and having to make decisions that make me uncomfortable,” Short said.

However, the motion did not pass.

[City and cruise line reach a settlement after three years of litigation]

The board also discussed at Weiss’ suggestion the possibility of leaving 1.5 full-time educators without designation instead of reserved for high school core classes until enrollment is in and the district’s needs are clearer.

“I’m very much opposed to that,” Whitney said.

His opposition stemmed from the sentiment that high school core teachers have a heavy workload and more core teachers are needed.

A motion for an amendment to the budget was not made, so there was no subsequent discussion and no vote was taken.

After the lengthy conversation, an amended similar to the one discussed at the previous board meeting was passed unanimously, or so it appeared.

During a short break immediately after the budget was passed, worries arose that the budget, which had been tabled at the last board meeting, had not been formally pulled from the table.

The budget was then un-tabled out of what Holst described as “an abundance of caution” and again passed unanimously.

“It’s done and then re-done,” Holst said.

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of June 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

Eddie Petrie shovels gravel into a mine cart as fast as possible during the men’s hand mucking competition as part of Juneau Gold Rush Days on Saturday at Savikko Park. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Mucking, trucking, chucking and yukking it up at Juneau Gold Rush Days

Logging competitions, live music, other events continue Sunday at Savikko Park.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, June 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Pins supporting the repeal of ranked choice voting are seen on April 20 at the Republican state convention in Anchorage. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
State judge upholds most fines against group seeking repeal of Alaska ranked choice voting

An Anchorage Superior Court judge has ruled that opponents of Alaska’s ranked… Continue reading

Joshua Midgett and Kelsey Bryce Riker appear on stage as the emcees for MixCast 2023 at the Crystal Saloon. (Photo courtesy Juneau Ghost Light Theatre)
And now for someone completely different: Familiar faces show new personas at annual MixCast cabaret

Fundraiser for Juneau Ghost Light Theatre on Saturday taking place amidst week of local Pride events

Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire
A section of Angoon along the coast is seen on June 14. Angoon was destroyed by the U.S. Navy in 1882; here is where they first pulled up to shore.
Long-awaited U.S. Navy apology for 1882 bombardment will bring healing to Angoon

“How many times has our government apologized to any American Native group?”

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon announced this week she plans to seek a third three-year term. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Mayor Beth Weldon seeking third term amidst personal and political challenges

Low mill rate, more housing cited by lifelong Juneau resident as achievements during past term.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, June 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A king salmon is laid out for inspection by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor during the Golden North Salmon Derby on Aug. 25, 2019. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Emergency order bans king salmon fishing in many Juneau waters between June 24 and Aug. 31

Alaska Department of Fish and Game says low projected spawning population necessitates restrictions

Most Read