Borough Assembly, School District discuss school budget proposal for upcoming years

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - For the first time in three years, the Borough and School Board came together to discuss a budget proposal. This one intended to cover from 2019 until 2021. The main discussion around the table at Monday night's joint work session was predominantly surrounding the School District's budget proposal and processes in ordinance 2018-2041.

Board members and the borough assembly reviewed a presentation by the School District's Chief Operations Officer Andreau DeGraw, which laid out the budget process timeline and where funds should be allocated.

"These are the five funds that were honed in on, so general fund, transportation, food services, equipment replacement and then risk management," he said.

Following the presentation, the members were able to ask questions regarding the budget and make suggestions on the ordinance that will be up for a vote at Thursday's meeting.

Treasurer of the School Board Erin Morotti said, "I know that a lot of assembly members tonight have been asking for numbers and that's not possible without more time to plan."

President of the School Board Wendy Dominique said, "I know no one wants to continue kicking the can down the road. I think the more we talk about our situations on both sides of the board, I think we can come to some conclusions."

Karen Gaborik Superintendent with the School District says, even though questions regarding the budget have yet to be finalized, she is optimistic that having both the Borough and Assembly gather to resolve these issues together is the first step in moving forward.

"It's been three years since the two bodies came together, so we have significantly new members. New assembly members, new board members, new mayor, so it was a good experience just for folks who haven't been in the same room together just to talk about resources right, in especially challenging and fiscal times. It's an important conversation to have," she said.

Gaborik says, with the ordinance in front of the Assembly, they can choose to act on it, or they can choose to table it. If the ordinance is not voted on, the school district and the borough assembly will have more time to discuss the issues that have not been resolved in previous years.