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At Meeting, Nome Schools’ $75K Deficit is Linked to Enrollment

School Board Member Nancy Mendenhall and Board President Barb Amarok review the budget for Nome Public Schools. Photo: Laura Kraegel, KNOM.

Amid decreased student enrollment, Tuesday’s Nome School Board meeting brought attention to a 75-thousand-dollar budget deficit. Efforts made in cyber bullying, school holidays, and cultural curriculum, were brought to the surface as well.

During the business report, it was revealed the school board’s budget is at a 75-thousand-dollar deficit. Superintendent Shawn Arnold says the deficit stems from mis-projected student enrollment across Nome Public Schools. Down 15 students from last year, Nome Public Schools will receive less money from the state’s enrollment funding. “The 75k deficit there – that’s money we won’t receive from the state. And that’s the reason why we kinda buffer and have additional money set aside in our reserve funds. To kind of prepare for fluctuations like enrollment or fluctuations in the economy. To kinda protect for that.”

Arnold added that parents have no need to worry. He says it won’t affect Nome-Beltz High School in the short term but long range, they may have to look at possible reductions. Despite further enrollment numbers or funding, Arnold says their main priority is keeping good teachers on the ground and offering great programs for Nome students.

During the superintendent’s report, Shawn Arnold discussed efforts working with the Alaska State Troopers and Nome-Beltz High School counselors to work through issues of cyber bullying on the After School and Twitter apps. Reports have been filed to both companies to block offending accounts.

Arnold’s report also mentioned the Northern Lights Project. The project is run by the Geophysical Institute at University of Alaska Fairbanks. The Alaska Native education program is designed to reinforce Inupiat culture and language terms in science curriculum, using projects based on the northern lights.

Arnold has also has requested that Senator Dan Sullivan fight the bans against walrus ivory in some states as it affects art opportunities available to Nome-Beltz students.

When it came time to pass action items, the board passed the proposal for William E. Beltz day. The school holiday will teach students more about a local hero. Arnold says, “we don’t have enough local heroes. Or we do, but we just don’t know about them. And that’s where, to kind of recognize, in honor of his legacy, we’d like to put forth to the board this resolution.”

At the end of the meeting, Arnold discussed how he thinks the election will impact Alaska schools.

“We really believe that education will be supported this legislative session better than it has been in other years; we’re being told that we’re going to anticipate some budget cuts, some budget reductions — but they shouldn’t be drastic.”

He finished with a personal mantra.

“(Something) I’ve said a lot, too, is, ya know, I don’t care about what goes on in Juneau, what goes on in D.C., it’s just focusing on the kids here.”

The next school board meeting is a work session on November 22nd . Community members can head to the Nome Elementary library at 5:30 pm.