Around Campus: Students react to mayor's proposed funding cut

Posted: Monday, February 21, 2011

According to KRC Student Union President Shauna Thornton, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey should expect to hear from the entire student body about his proposal to cut KPC funding mandated by voters in 1990.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly unanimously voted to enact Borough Ordinance 90-47. The proposition that went before voters in 1990 asked, "Shall the Kenai Peninsula Borough have the area wide authority and power to provide funds to colleges and universities that are part of the university system to use in providing post-secondary programs and operations within the Kenai Peninsula Borough boundaries, subject to a limitation that total annual funding may not exceed the amount that would be raised by the equivalent of an area wide tax levy of one-tenth (0.1) of a mill."

Kenai River Campus students organized a protest objecting the mayor's proposed funding cuts in front of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building in Soldotna on Feb. 15. According to Thornton, it was a way to get the mayor's attention that his actions are not going unnoticed by the students attending KPC campuses in Soldotna and Homer and the extension site in Seward. She predicted that the protest would not be the last.

"We're here to exercise our rights to an education and the borough mayor is proposing cuts to the KPC budget that will affect a lot of current and future students and families. We want the mayor to know that we support the tenth of a mill tax that the voters approved to fund the Kenai Peninsula College; we want to be sure that voter intent is honored," Thornton said under a banner that read education is priceless.

"I support the college and not a dump," said Susan Lee, another participant in the student organized protest that identified herself as a taxpayer. Several of the signs displayed referred to the link between funding cuts and trashing education.

The KRC Student Union used bright green frog suits to draw attention to the event. An unidentified student dressed in a frog suit said, "I want everybody to have the same opportunities I have had. It has been a life-changing experience for me."

Mako Haggerty, a borough assembly member from Homer, approached the group to ask about one of the signs being displayed by Gwen Gere, KRC bookstore manager.

"I just have to ask what that sign says," Haggerty said.

Gere commented that the sign said education is priceless in Arabic. "It worked for Egypt; it should work for us," she said.

"Great, great, I like it, thanks. Thanks for coming down. I will be thinking about your message," Haggerty told the group as he walked away.

Ben Reaves, another KRC student participating in the rally, said that KPC is a good place to learn.

"The JumpStart program is a great thing and so are all the GED programs they have out there. I worked through the JumpStart program when I was in high school and I feel that everyone should be able to have that option; it's a real good start for everybody to get into college," Reaves said.

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