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Assembly pushes for early education funding

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved with unanimous consent last week a resolution supporting the accelerated passage of the education bill in the Alaska State Legislature this year.

“What that is, we’re going to this resolution, if it passes, to the legislators saying, ‘Hey, if you can get us early funding in so we don’t have to lay teachers off, or pink slip teachers, before the budget process, it would be a great help to us,” said Assemblyman Brent Hibbert.

A handful of residents offered their encouragement to the assembly during the public hearing before the vote.

“I’d like to thank the Assembly and the administration for the support you’ve shown for funding education on an earlier basis so that we actually get down to work and figure out what we have to do. House Bill 287 addresses the needs for early funding for education and transportation,” said Debbie Carey of Ninilchik. “Early funding of education allows districts to plan their budgets while identifying their needs in a timely fashion. The district spends time and resources on contingency plans when we don’t have early funding. Teachers tend to be less focused in the classroom because they’re worried about losing their jobs. That’s understandable.”

“I would encourage you to support his. Every spring, non-tenured teachers get heartache, heartburn and worry about looking for a job. The best of them can go to a job fair ad get an offer and move and have that assuring that they’d be able to make a mortgage payment,” said David Brighton of Kenai. “We don’t want to lose our best teachers, so please support this.”

“Good evening I’m just here to encourage you to please support this. And when the teachers go, classes get bigger, we lose support staff,” said Tamara Ware of Soldotna. “And it gets harder and harder for children to get the attention that they need, and it’s so important for them, because when they get older and they get in that place where they do lose their job and it’s unfortunate, they need to have that strength and that inner resilience that they had in school, so they can move forward.”

The state’s fast-track education funding bill, HB-287, was heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday, where it currently remains.