The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 7, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 7, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Feb. 11

Three decades of capital city coverage (about past school district budget woes, in this instance).

Empire Archives is a series printed every Saturday featuring a short compilation of headline stories in the Juneau Empire from archived editions in 1984, 1994 and 2004.

This week in 1984, The Juneau City-Borough Assembly will wait until the school district has pieced together its final budget before making any funding recommendations, the co-chairman of the assembly’s education committee said, following a joint meeting with the local school board. The city-borough shouldn’t be “presumptive” of the school district’s budget until it knows the facts, said co-chairman Jamie Parsons. School district officials during the week unveiled a proposed $26.1 million budget for the next fiscal year. The plan, one of several options, according to school officials — includes a $7.3 million appropriation from the city-borough, which is a 41% boost over the current $5.2 million this year. The remainder of the budget would come from the state. School officials will have to come up with a city appropriation figure that is “justified by program needs,” City-Borough Manager Pat Teague said.

Today the Juneau School District’s operating budget is roughly $75 million and the city is being asked to cover about a $6 million deficit (plus about $2 million in additional debt carried over from the previous fiscal year). Assembly members are considering emergency options including a loan and taking over some “shared” costs such as maintenance on buildings used by both city and school entities.

Original Story: “City on school funds: wait-and-see,” by Kyoko Ikenoue. 2/8/1984.

This week in 1994, The school district’s projected budget shortage of $2.5 million to $3 million next year is causing anxiety among teachers, parents and students. To help share the budget-cutting burden, the school board and administration are asking site councils and staffers for help in deciding what cuts can be made. Meanwhile, 53 of the district’s non-tenured teachers received a letter last month informing them they may not have jobs next year. The letter, a step the district took as a courtesy before sending out final layoff notices, spelled out procedures governing the district’s layoff and job-transfer policies. The district expects $35.5 million in state and municipal money for the school year that starts next fall. It will get even less if lawmakers adopt Gov. Walter J. Hickel’s proposed changes to the state’s school funding formula and cuts in state support for student busing. The district’s estimated expenses are $38 million. As one way of dealing with budget woes, the school board is proposing $10,000 incentives to teachers and administrators at the top of the pay scale to not return next year.

Today the Juneau School District is considering drastic cutbacks, including consolidating schools and a four-day school week, to help resolve its financial crisis.

Original Story: “Schools seek ideas as budget cuts approach,” by Susan S. Christianson. 2/7/1994.

This week in 2004, The average class size next year will rise by nearly three students in middle schools and 2.5 students in high school, if the Juneau School District goes through with proposed layoffs. Officials didn’t say what the average class size in the elementary schools would be, but those schools also face reduced staffing. Further layoffs projected for two school years from now would put the average middle school class at 38.5 students and the average high school at 37.8 students, the district said. “It’s kind of horrifying to think of about close to 40 kids in a classroom,” Juneau Assembly member Marc Wheeler said as the Juneau School Board presented its tentative budget during a joint work session. “How do you deliver education with that many kids in a class?”

Today the Juneau School District estimates 90% of its operating budget goes toward staff costs, so any options to resolve its financial crisis are near certain to result in layoffs and likely to create larger classes sizes in at least some instances.

Original Story: “Class sizes will jump with proposed teacher layoffs,” by Eric Fry. 2/6/2004.

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