In lieu of a walk out, a group of Kenai Peninsula Borough School District teachers and their supporters held a “walk-in” rally on Tuesday morning in hopes of garnering support for education funding.
About two dozen Mountain View Elementary teachers, employees and students gathered at the corner of Swires Road and the Kenai Spur Highway before marching down the street for the start of school.
“We want to prioritize education, we don’t want to do anything like (a strike). We want to keep it positive and flip that model on its head,” said Kenai Peninsula Education Association President Dave Brighton. “We’re out here to advocate for full funding for education this year and when the time comes to go to work, we’re going to walk in to work.”
Starting at 7:45 a.m., supporters rallied along the highway with signs, waving at cars that honked their horns in support of fully funding education.
“If we can’t show our kids that we support them, it’s understandable why, in the future, many graduates from college choose not to return to Alaska,” said David Daniel, a teacher at Mountain View Elementary. “So, I want to make sure the community, the Legislature and the students that I teach know that I fully support education and have been doing it for 31 years.”
In April, the Board of Education approved a Fiscal Year 2018 budget, but will have to adjust the budget as both the Alaska Legislature and Kenai Peninsula Borough finalize their budgets for next year.
Currently, the Legislature is working on a budget but it is still unclear how education will be funded. The Senate has proposed a 5 percent cut to education while the House has proposed status-quo funding.
“The Senate proposed 5 percent cut which would mean cutting over 50 teachers here on the peninsula,” Brighton said. “That would be probably two teachers here at Mountain View Elementary. That increases class sizes and then we start losing programs at the high school level. That’s not good for education.”
The borough is also responsible for funding the district, but it is currently uncertain how much the borough will fund in their FY18 budget.
“We’re pretty well dialed in on the funds we need for student success. Our district is a leader in Alaska so it’s sad to see the budget decisions impact that,” Brighton said.
Reach Kat Sorensen at firstname.lastname@example.org