JUNEAU, Alaska (KINY) - Juneau School District Superintendent Mark Miller was asked on Action Line Thursday how the opening of school this year is going.
According to Miller, "It's going great!"
The superintendent was buoyed by unexpected enrollment numbers.
"Enrollment is up, which is awesome," Miller began. "That's huge for us. It's way up, which was surprising; usually our enrollment projections are right on the money, and we missed this year. If you're going to miss, you want to miss low and not high, because otherwise you're overstaffed and there's not a lot you can do about it. But, we missed by what looks like about 150 to 200 kids. We're still waiting to see how it shakes out for us in October, but that's exciting for us. It's a little extra money and it will help with our budget woes."
Official enrollment numbers are submitted to the state for funding next month.
Miller was asked how much more that will mean in state funding.
"We need to be really careful about that because there's a lot of factors going in. Just that alone, we're looking at about a $1.8 million boost, which is great, but, of course, we have to hire more staff to teach the kids. One of the things that has a huge impact on our budget is the number of what we call intensive need students, or high needs special ed students. Three or four of those students, one way or another, could eat up a large chunk of that budget."
And the superintendent was asked how many teachers will be hired to handle the higher than expected enrollment.
"So far, we've added two teachers at Auke Bay and another full-time equivalent at Thunder Mountain, but it's not really a teacher because they have to teach so many different classes and we sort of piecemeal that together. We started out with three, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if we end up needing a fourth at some point."
Miller noted that it also wouldn't surprise him if the school district winds up requiring additional aides and support staff.