Schools need more money from Juneau

Posted: Sunday, April 04, 2004

Now that Kenai Peninsula voters have said no to a measure which would have allowed the borough to fund school activities, the big questions are: What does it mean? and What next?

The advisory measure was narrowly defeated: Only 76 votes separate the "yes" and "no" sides.

That's enough for opponents of the measure to claim victory, but not enough for any clear mandate. And that's largely because there's a myriad of reasons that drove "no" votes.

A very small percentage may have been making a statement that school activities are not nearly as important as academics and rejected the measure on that basis. A few may have been saying money can be found "somewhere" without the borough's help. Others may have been saying "no" to the possibility of property taxes going up. Still others may have wanted to send a message to the Legislature that school districts around the state need help and lawmakers need to ante up after all, fully funding education is a state responsibility.

And some may have rejected the measure based on the news that it appears lawmakers will increase funding for schools next year, so the immediate crisis may have passed.

Whatever the reasons for saying no, the vote should not be seen as an indictment against school activities or students or education in general. It isn't. What was rejected was borough providing funding for the activities outside the amount set by state law.

What next?

Residents who continue to think activities such as music, dance, drama, debate, sports and after-school clubs are an integral part of a quality education need to take that thought to legislators.

More money is needed for schools.

That's the bottom line.

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