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Homer High School students walk out in response to education funding bill veto

The front of Homer High School on Thursday, April 4. Students did a walkout to the school's entrance the same day.
Jamie Diep
The front of Homer High School on Nov. 17, 2023. Students did a walkout to the school's entrance the same day.

More than 30 Homer High School students stood outside the school’s entrance in a walkout Thursday morning. They joined other schools across Alaska doing walkouts in response to Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoing Senate Bill 140, a bill that would have increased education funding. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District now faces significant budget cuts for the next school year if state funding doesn’t increase.

Gov. Dunleavy said in a statement after the walkouts that he supports exercising First Amendment rights and increasing the base student allocation, but “money alone won’t improve Alaska’s educational outcomes.”

Jamie Diep talked to students who participated in the walkout.


Spencer Co: My name is Spencer Co. The walkout today is specifically in protest to Dunleavy’'s veto of Senate Bill 140. And the increase in funding education that would have been part of that bill. This is part of a series of walkouts that are taking place around schools all over Alaska. So people are doing similar protests in North Pole and in, I know Career Technical Education High School is really into it and a few other schools from around the state. And we are just all coming together to, as a show of support for student educational funding and just how much that really means to all of us.

Ella Gustafson: I’m Ella Gustafson. I'm a sophomore at Homer High. I heard about this just recently, just a couple of days ago, and yesterday, I started reposting things on my Instagram, and started taking polls and informing people about it. And we got a decent turnout for people to walk out. But we walked out, yeah, at 11am for 40 minutes because of the 40 votes.

Raquel Goldman: My name is Raquel Goldman, and I'm a junior class representative on the student council. I'm also really involved in music programs and I did swimming for a long time and the budget cuts from this bill that got vetoed affect, like our music program, our pool and that's like a key, like, thing in our community. Not only do the high school students use the pool and theater, but so do Pier One and all the swim lessons and like, so many other community members use the pool and theater.

And this is really important to us, and like I'm a big music program person. I'm in band and Ella’s in choir, and it's a huge part of our high school and our community. And this is not, it's not just us doing this. It's schools in Anchorage, Wasilla, North Pole, Fairbanks. Many schools around Alaska are doing this and it was really important to us. We walked, we walked outside for 40 minutes because we needed 40 votes, and we were down by one.

Raiden Skorsi-O’Donnell: I’m Raiden Skorsi-O’Donnell, I am a junior here at the high school. I, I, I captain the drama debate and forensics team with Spencer, one of the, one of the, like, drama programs here at the high school. The outcome of this veto will most likely lead to cuts for our theater and pool programs.

Specifically though, with our, with our theater program here in Homer especially and all over the state. Alaska's high school theater programs are one of the most unifying, unifying communal things that happen just all over the state. People drive up from Homer to Anchorage, all over, Nikiski to North Pole just to support our fellow drama students. And like, with these, with these cuts, it's, it's, it's not looking too good.

Alexandria Sweeney: I'm Alexandria Sweeney. I'm a student here at Homer High. I participate in theater and choir here at the school. I also play softball. And the decrease in funding for schools all across Alaska, is not a good thing, and it would hurt the community and the students.

The majority of Alaskans go to public schools, so decreasing the funding for public schools would be a huge detriment to students statewide. And a lot of our community also uses our facilities. And if these cuts happen, and when they do, we will lose funding for our places like our theater and our pools, which the community uses. So it would just damage the community as well. And these places are just really important for our school and everybody that comes to our school to use these places.

Noah Spencer: I'm Noah Spencer, you know, I'm a student at Homer High School, also a senior, also 18. I'd just like to say that I have a father who works in town as a special education educator. So besides just, you know, being a student in school, this means a lot to me personally. And I just think personally that education, public education is like a right to all people and especially, like, a duty for society to provide, and it's very, very harrowing and disheartening to see it getting cut so, like, callously like this, I really hope that this can, that we can do something about this with our voices.

Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.