Nome School District prepares for budget crunches
On Tuesday, January 9 the Nome Public Schools Board of Education met for a regular meeting in the Nome Elementary School library. The board enjoyed a brief meeting before budget planning begins for the year.During his report, Superintendent Shawn Arnold brought attention to the fiscal year 2019 budget, which will be discussed in more detail in upcoming work sessions. A first draft will be presented to the board in February.
Arnold shared an article with board members titled “The Downside of Humble Frugality,” originally published September 2015 by school administrator Ken DeSieghardt. Echoing the article’s theme of humbleness, Arnold said in his report, “The takeaway this budget session I would like to share with our stakeholders is that we have been humble the last few years. Whittling away staff and programs, looking for costs efficiencies in everything we do, and spending funds only if necessary.”
As the board prepares to review next year’s budget in upcoming work sessions and numerous planning meetings throughout the year, more cuts are imminent, as Arnold explained they will have to prepare to be flat-funded again.
“We have been doing more with less the last few years and may be at a tipping point where we need to do less with less,” said Arnold in his report.
Board members shared mixed opinions regarding the superintendent report. Board member Sandy Martinson advised Arnold to be cautious with the language in his report, specifically his sentence stating, “none of these efforts are recognized (outside of the Board) and even causes consternation by other elected officials.”
“We all know what’s being said,” said Martinson, referring to comments coming out of past city council meetings, and advised the superintendent to keep things civil.
Arnold responded that the district has been nice so far in keeping their heads down to get students what they need, then stated, “I don’t think anyone is going to be surprised when the talk gets harder.”
Board member Nancy Mendenhall thanked the superintendent for his report, stating she was glad to be reminded of the situation. “We’ve probably done as many crunches as we can and still provide the services to the students,” said Mendenhall.
During action items, the board approved the continued employment of school administrators: Nome-Beltz Junior/Senior High Principal Jon Berkeley, Nome Elementary School Principal Elizabeth Korenek-Johnson and Anvil City Science Academy Lead Teacher Lisa Leeper. Members enthusiastically approved extending the typical one-year contracts to two-year contracts instead, a recommendation from Superintendent Shawn Arnold who stressed the importance of keeping strong leaders in the community, as well as giving school leaders more time to accomplish their ambitious goals.
Board member Brandy Arrington shared her excitement for the two-year contracts, commenting, “We’ve definitely come a long way even since I’ve started on the board, and to see this longevity is really awesome.”
In other news, Superintendent Arnold shared with the board that the district does not have the funding next year for its college career guide position, currently filled by Caroline Proulx. Arnold said that NPS is looking at other funding sources and options, primarily through the help of Kawerak, to keep this position in the future.
Technology Directory Jacob Phillips presented to the board that the district will be hosting an “App Awareness Night” meeting for parents on Thursday, January 18 at 6 p.m., to help parents better understand various apps and social media sites that kids are using and how to keep their children safe from their dangers.
The board recognized the following students and staff members for the month of December: Ethan Hannon, Nome-Beltz Junior High student of the month; Abigail Tozier, Nome-Beltz Senior High student of the month; Lizzy Hahn, Anvil City Science Academy student of the month; Patricia Murphy, teacher of the month and Karen Kunnuk, support staff member of the month.
The board meets again for a work session on Tuesday, January 16 followed by a regular meeting on Tuesday, February 6 in the Nome Elementary School Library.