Juneau School District Superintendent releases comment on budget deficit

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – On Friday morning, Juneau School District (JSD) Superintendent Frank Hauser released a message to JSD staff and families.

“After a recent resignation in the district’s Administrative Services Department, I brought in a highly experienced school finance specialist, Lisa Pearce, who has spent the last few weeks going through the district’s budget line by line. She has reviewed over 2,400 lines, at present,” he wrote in an email released Friday. “Ms. Pearce prepared a revision to the budget that was originally developed and adopted last spring before I arrived in Juneau. To say that there is some hard news would be an understatement. The budget developed last spring and adopted in June overstated district revenues by over 5 million dollars. It also understated district expenses by $2.1 million.”

In the letter, Hauser wrote that JSD “must make both immediate and long-term financial changes.”

He said that he will continue to present to the public transparent information as the situation develops.

The Municipal Attorney and Hauser met with the state Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) on Friday morning.

“We appreciate DEED’s partnership during this difficult time. DEED has agreed that there will be no penalization or holdback of future funding. DEED has also agreed to up to a five-year plan to repay the district’s deficit,” Hauser wrote. “If there is a need, DEED can forward-fund the foundation payments to the district, up to the remaining amount for the fiscal year.”

The district expects to have more information on the pathway forward on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at the Board of Education meeting at 6:00 pm at Juneau-Douglas Yadaa.at Kalé High School.