FNSB School Board begins discussion on 2019-2020 budget

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board began discussion Tuesday night on the district's budget for fiscal year 2019 to 2020. With a total budget $243,288,690, school officials may need to make some hard decisions in the near future, as funding from both borough and state sources remains uncertain.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board entered phase one of its budget process, hearing from Superintendent Karen Gaborik and Chief Operations Officer Andreau DeGraw.

"My philosophy with regard to the proposed budget, my attempt is to reflect the sentiment I believe I heard from board members this fall and that's to shift from long term planning for uncertainties in revenue and expenditures, a shift from that to meeting the needs of students in the current year,” she said.

The proposed 2019-2020 budget includes an increase of $753,771 or .3 percent more than last year approved budget. The budget is currently being based on estimates as Borough Mayor Bryce Ward and legislators in Juneau create their own budgets.

"Based on the Governor's information that is coming out of the Governor's office, he's proposing that this year's forward funding be taken. I think we can expect that there will be a lot of conversation about next year's forward funding and that three million and so we need to have that on the radar," Gaborik added.

After Gaborik addressed the board, a few members voiced their concerns. Board member Allyson Lambert voiced her worries on what the end of this budget cycle may look like. It's estimated that at the end of fiscal year 2020, the district will be left with two million dollars in its general fund.

"I think that the abyss we're going to find ourselves in, in the next year, we're not going to be able to recover,” Lambert said.

Last year the board was faced with cuts to staff, faculty and extracurricular activities including sports and music programs. For board members, it may seem like a long road ahead to achieve budget goals.

The school board will now hold a series of work sessions on the budget, and by March 22nd, the board will have to make its final decisions before sending a recommended budget to the borough by April 1.

Superintendent Gaborik also has a Facebook Live scheduled for February 20 at 5:30 p.m. to get the community involved with the budget discussion.

The district’s Facebook page can be found by searching ‘Fairbanks North Star Borough School District’.