Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss, center-right, talks to students as they re-enter Floyd Dryden Middle School on Jan. 11, 2021, the first day of hybrid learning after nine months of distance learning due to COVID-19. The extended break from full-time, in-person learning has meant enrollment changes for the district, which has resulted in reduced grant money. On Wednesday night, the city Finance Committee unanimously agreed to transfer $56,646 to the Juneau School District to help shore up fiscal year 2021 coffers. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau Finance Committee agrees to transfer money to Juneau School District

The money will offset reduced grant money.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee unanimously agreed to transfer $56,646 to the Juneau School District at its meeting Wednesday evening.

If the full City Assembly approves, the transfer will help offset reduced grant money resulting from a decrease in enrollment this year and help shore up the school district’s fiscal year 2021 position. Enrollment numbers have fallen as families have sought alternatives while full-time, in-person learning has been on hold due to COVID-19.

Superintendent Bridget Weiss joined the committee meeting by Zoom and asked for the funding.

“It’s our practice to come to you when there’s a local contribution that’s allowable,” Weiss said. “We are looking at every way possible we can support students and families. As we move into recovery, we know the needs are great. The cost of running school in a pandemic is expensive, and recovery needs are going to be extraordinary, not just for one year but for many years.”

Lower COVID numbers mean more school options for Juneau students

Weiss acknowledged that the city had previously contributed federal COVID-19 relief money to the school and outlined how school officials spent the money.

“Our CARES funding was spent on devices, personal protective equipment, air purifiers, air scrubbers and technology,” she said. “We had to put our whole system on high tilt. We’ve tried to take every allocation of funding and move it toward helping the school district. All funds have been allocated down to the penny.”

Weiss said that the school district is looking ahead to next year’s budget and is facing a potential shortfall. She said the district is establishing spending priorities for next year and looking for additional funding sources for this year.

“We are scouring for every dollar possible. We are trying to put ourselves in the best position possible. If we don’t get this $56,000, it’s one less thing we can do,” Weiss said.

Summer break to include school for some Juneau students

Enrollment challenges

The extended break from full-time, in-person learning has meant enrollment changes for the district, with about 410 students moving to the district-supported HomeBRIDGE program rather than the 35 students the program typically serves. Another 500 students have left the district for other home school programs, school officials told the Empire in February.

However, surveys of the families of contacted former students indicate that many plan to return in the fall.

“A HomeBRIDGE survey of families about plans for next year revealed that 74% of respondents intend to return to a Juneau school next year. A survey of families who left the district for another school option this year shows that 50% of those families intend to return to JSD next year,” Juneau School District chief of staff Kristin Bartlett said in an email last month.

Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-480-4891.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Bus drivers picket outside the bus barn in Wasilla, Alaska on Jan. 26, 2023. Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district have gone on strike after delivering students to classes on Tuesday,  Jan. 31, citing unfair labor practices. (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)
Mat-Su school bus drivers strike

ANCHORAGE — Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district went on strike… Continue reading

The Juneau School District’s recently announced its new directors of teaching and learning support and student services who are set to start in their positions in July. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
District selects new directors for teaching and learning support and student services

The new directors will take over their roles in the district in July.

The final Boeing 747 lands at Paine Field following a test flight, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Everett, Wash. Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, when it delivers the jumbo jet to cargo carrier Atlas Air. Since it debuted in 1969, the 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft, but it has been rendered obsolete by more profitable and fuel-efficient models. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times)
Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE — Boeing bid farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

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

President Joe Biden talks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, after returning from an event in Baltimore on infrastructure. (AP Photo / Susan Walsh)
Biden to end COVID-19 emergencies on May 11

The move would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response.

Carla Casulucan, shareholder relations manager for Huna Totem Corp., gives public testimony Monday night in support of the Huna Totem development and urged the city to vote against an ordinance that would have allowed the city to spend $300,000 to help plan the location of a proposed cruise ship dock at the downtown subport. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
City decides against spending on cruise ship dock planning

Assembly votes down ordinance after more than a dozen public comments against it.

Eaglecrest Ski Patrol received a report of an avalanche in closed terrain in the East Bowl Chutes at 10:10 a.m. Thursday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Most Read