Educators Rally Support for School Funding

May 4, 2017

Teachers and students wave signs to rally support for education funding Tuesday at Mt. View Elementary in Kenai.

Like every district across the state, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is facing another potential budget cut this year.

The Kenai Peninsula Education Association is asking for a status-quo budget, the same as last year. And even that will likely mean losing a few teachers.

The Senate majority in Juneau has proposed substantial cuts in an effort to help close the state’s $3 billion budget deficit, including $69 million in cuts to the state’s school districts and another $22 million in budget reductions for the state’s universities.

Those potential losses are what brought more than a dozen teachers and even a few students outside Mt. View Elementary Tuesday morning to wave some signs and try to rally some support.

Dave Brighton, President Kenai Peninsula Education Association: We’re out here advocating for full funding for education. Right now the Senate has proposed a five percent cut to education.

In a perfect world we would have adjustments to inflation. We’re not asking for that this year. We’re seeing the climate of the state and we’re just asking for what we got last year instead of cutting us. A  status-quo budget from last year means we need to cut seven teaching positions from the district.

We’re not happy or excited about that but the price of oil is low and the state’s in a deficit, but the proposed five percent cut would mean over 50 teachers would not be coming back next year.

Shaylon Cochran: What kind of effect does that have in the classroom?

Dave Brighton: It would increase class sizes. And it’s important to point out as well this is not a new trend. We’ve been facing this for the last few years. Our district alone has cut roughly $8 million in the last three years, so we’ve already picked the low-hanging fruit. And I give our administration credit, because they have reduced their ranks significantly. There are less desks in the district office than there were two years ago, and it’s noticeable.

So we’re looking at cutting everything. We’re looking at trying to do energy improvement. We’re looking at trying to not impact the classroom as much as possible and I think the administration and the school board has done a great job not harming the classroom, but at this point, it has to go to teachers and support staff, because that amount is just too much for us to swallow.

And it’s also worth mentioning that a five prevent cut to the funding formula affects how much the Borough can contribute to the school district, so five percent becomes closer to seven percent.

The Borough is set to fund the district to the tune of just under 50 million dollars, though that depends on what kind of plan eventually comes out of the capital.

In addition to serving as president of the education association, Dave Brighton is also a member of the KDLL Board of Directors.