The Peninsula Clarion coverage of the recent mayoral debate sponsored by the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce once again shows John Williams to be a rock solid supporter of public education in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
In response to budgetary questions, Mayor Williams stated his intention to continue his past practices and push the Borough to fund education to the cap (maximum allowed by state law). Mayor Williams continued that "our children need every advantage that we can possibly give them. We should not short change them one bit."
Mayor Williams' opponent suggests that funding to the cap is an unlimited check for the next three years. This overused clich may play in some political circles but is far from the truth. Passed into state law last year was a historic bill that forward funded education for three years. The yearly increases in the Base Student Allocation (dollars per pupil statewide) as well as increases specific to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District students (to compensate for the high cost of running such a far flung district) are exact numbers.
The increased amount, per pupil, that the borough will have to spend by funding to the cap in the remaining two years of this forward funded plan is a matter of simple math. The only unlimited increase would be if hundreds more families with children moved into the borough. Would that be a bad thing?
This forward funding educational bill combined with the assumption that the borough will continue its tradition of funding to the cap has returned the ability for long-term planning to the school district after years of real dollar funding declines. This is good for kids as well as the for future of the borough.
As a teacher and parent, I think the choice for borough mayor is obvious. John Williams is the only candidate that is an unabashed supporter of full funding for education.
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