There are three important dates coming up next week. Consider this the string around your finger to remind you of them.
The first is Tuesday, March 30. This is the date all ballots in the special election on school district cocurricular activities funding must be received in the borough clerk's office or one of the authorized voting stations. Ballots must be received, not mailed, no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday.
It's been said before, but it bears repeating. This is an important vote regardless of how much the Legislature and the governor provide school districts in the way of funding.
Proposition No. 1 asks: "Do you approve of the exercise of powers necessary for the Kenai Peninsula Borough to directly fund cocurricular activities for the school district in addition to operating funds currently authorized by law?"
A "yes" vote does not mean property taxes automatically will go up. The level of cocurricular funding, if any, would be established by the borough assembly through the regular budget process giving people yet another chance to be heard on the issue.
It is anticipated the amount of funding would not exceed .5 mills, or about $2.1 million based on the current amount of taxable property within the borough. A half mill equals $50 tax on $100,000 of assessed property value.
It's a small price for the community to pay.
Cocurricular activities include all kinds of sports; forensics; drama; band; dance; music; National Honor Society; vocational clubs; popular programs like Mock Trial, Academic Decathlon, Battle of the Books and Future Problem Solving; and field trips.
Those programs should not be considered "extras"; they are an integral part of a quality education. Far from being the icing on the cake, these activities are healthy servings of fruits and vegetables. For many students, maybe even the majority of students, they are the things that keep school interesting and relevant.
When the final vote is counted, our hope is the tally will show students within the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District that this is a community that gives far more than lip service to how highly it values the younger generation.
But we've said all that before. The important thing to remember now is the deadline to be heard is fast approaching. Remember your ballot must be received by the borough clerk's office no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday. Don't forget the envelope in which you return the ballot must be signed, include a signature from a witness and provide an "identifier" your voting number, Social Security number or birth date. It's really not complicated at all.
The next important date to remember is Wednesday, March 31. That's the deadline for filing permanent fund dividend applications. Dividend applications must be postmarked no later than this date.
The dividends set Alaska apart from all the other states in the nation. They truly give Alaskans a vested interest in the business of state government. While visions of paying off debt, buying some new toy or going on vacation may dance in our heads while we fill out our applications, the dividends also provide Alaskans a chance to do much good. Everyone knows the dividends are a boost to local economies, but they also give Alaskans the chance to help their favorite nonprofit organization or a family in need.
While we think the dividends have become a little too sacred, we also would hate to seem them disappear. After all, they are as much a part of Alaska's mystique and uniqueness as the state's majestic wilderness.
And, finally, mark Thursday, April 1. That's the day when your Peninsula Clarion will take on a slightly different look.
It was a decade ago that the Clarion went from being a tabloid-sized newspaper to its current broadsheet dimensions. It was a milestone in the paper's history. The Clarion was maturing, and its size was a reflection of that.
On April 1, the Clarion's size will change again not as dramatically as a decade ago, but readers will notice. The height will stay the same, but the width of the paper will decrease by about an inch and a half.
The move will put the Peninsula Clarion in line with the size newspaper that is now the industry standard. It's particularly important for advertising purposes where clients must deal in "standard advertising units."
Readers won't be getting less news with the Clarion, but they will get a little more elbow room as they read the newspaper on the airplane or in the coffee shop.
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