Dunleavy vetoes will affect NPS salaries, capital improvements

Exterior of Nome Beltz high school.

Nome Public Schools is looking at a budgetary shortfall after Gov. Mike Dunleavy cut by nearly half a one-time boost to education funding in the state.

The governor reduced a legislative funding increase to school districts around the state from $175 million to just more than $87 million on Monday, June 19.

According to NPS Assistant Superintendent Douglas Pfau, it’s bad news for Nome for several reasons.

“The one-time funding doesn’t help when you are trying to budget for the continuing expense of helping the salaries each year that have been neglected by legislative action for over seven years,” Pfau said. “Those salaries are recurring each year, so adding to the base salary is a treacherous budgeting practice when you don’t get the funding promised yearly through the (Base Student Allocation). The costs of fuel and other benefits have taken a great portion of the one-time funding, leaving very little to address the salary struggles.”

Pfau added that Nome was supposed to receive approximately $1.16 million in one-time funding. That amount now will now be reduced to approximately $583,814. 

In addition, the state’s FY24 budget of $19.6 million for School Major Maintenance means Nome-Beltz’s roof replacement project will not be funded in 2024. According to Pfau, it was ninth on the FY24 Capital Improvement Projects Major Maintenance Initial List, which was published by the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development in November 2022.

“In order for that project to have been funded, the state would have had to approve at least $24,731,745 in the CIP Major Maintenance budget, because projects No. 1 through No. 8, from other districts would have to be funded first due to the ranking,” Pfau said. “The Nome-Beltz school generator replacement was seventeenth on the list and would not be funded either.”

According to Pfau, there were two other NPS projects on the CIP list which were much further down in ranking which would not be funded either.  Pfau said the district will resubmit to DEED for consideration from FY25 budget.

Image at top: Nome-Beltz High School. Photo by Brisa Alarcon/KNOM