Juneau will loan school district $4.1 million to help cover deficit

A $9.7 million bailout package to ensure that the Juneau School District can cover a nearly $8 million deficit this year and help toward resolving a projected deficit of nearly $10 million next year was approved March 4 by the Juneau borough assembly.

The package, consisting of a loan and taking over some “non-instructional costs” from the school district, won final approval after several weeks of consideration by city and school leaders.

The Juneau assembly voted to provide the district with an interest-free loan of up to $4.1 million dollars, due within five years.

The district is not required to begin repaying the loan until the 2025-2026 school year.

The unanimous assembly vote approving the financial assistance was preceded by numerous residents offering public testimony generally expressing dissatisfaction with a consolidation plan the school board approved to help balance the budget.

The restructuring plan scheduled to take effect for the 2024-2025 school year consolidates students in grades 9-12 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, shutting down Thunder Mountain High School in the Mendenhall Valley and using that building for grades 7-8 and the HomeBRIDGE program.

The district will close two middle schools, and sixth graders will be moved into K-5 elementary schools.

Even with the consolidation, the district will have a multimillion-dollar shortfall. That means a likely combination of city assistance, further budget cuts such as layoffs and a hoped-for increase in state funding will be needed to balance the budget.

 

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