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Deficit projected in Mat-Su borough school district’s budget

by Diana Haecker ~ September 21st, 2010

The Mat-Su School district’s assistant superintendent of business and operations told the school board and the Mat-Su Assembly that financial projections for the next fiscal year are not looking good.According to school board member Myrl Thompson, the projections forecast that the school district’s finances would be roughly 2.8 million dollars in the minus.

Ken Forrest, the newly hired administrator in charge of business and operations, told the Anchorage Daily News that payroll accounts for 80 percent of the districts expenses. Board member Thompson explained that especially insurance rates that are part of teacher’s benefits packages as well as step increases of district employees go up annually.

Also, the district has ok’d wage increases for the upper management of the school district. Newly hired superintendent Ken Burnley draws a salary of $180,000. That is $40,ooo more than his predecessor George Troxel was paid. The two assistant superintendent positions received an increase in work days, translating into higher paychecks and two executive directors had an increase of more than $9,000 per year each.

Thompson said that projections are to be taken seriously, but they are also based on assumptions that can change. He said the district has had similar dismal projections in the past but then realities changed when the state legislature and the Mat-Su Borough appropriated more money to the district than initially projected.

Next month’s borough elections might bring some changes to the school board, and after the new board is seated its members are going to work on next fiscal year’s school budget.

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