SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Magnitude of Ketchikan's education budget issues
By DeAnn Turner


March 04, 2008
Tuesday PM

I wanted to provide Mr. Edwardson with some additional information regarding the KGBSD budget he commented on after the article in the KDN's. I participated in the KGBSD budget sessions. There were several notices in the newspaper announcing the dates the budget sessions were to be held and that they were open to the public.

Believe me - participating in this annual event is one of the most frustrating endeavors I've ever experienced. I too was frustrated by the lack of support for student activities. However, what is even more frustrating is the level of funding the School District as a whole receives from the Borough and State. It isn't just student activities that are suffering. Maintenance, upgrades in technology and curriculum supplies as well as many other programs are also taking a hit.

I'm sure it is important to all families that their children receive the best education possible. That costs money. I've had three children in our local school system and have a granddaughter who will be starting soon. Of course I want the best for not only them but my neighbor's children as well. What most individuals do not realize is the magnitude of the budget issues. Until I participated in these annual budget review sessions, I didn't have a clue what went into the School District's budget.

At the first session, each school or program representative is given an opportunity to provide information as to why their school/program is important and what each funding level means to their future needs. Funding at one level means they keep the program they currently have in place. Funding at another level means they lose either teaching or support positions, supplies, etc. Funding at another level means they can add to the school/program. After the presentations are completed, we are then given a number of points that we are to use to vote for what we believe to be a workable budget. After that, all the votes are tallied and we meet again to review. At that time, Superintendent Boyle makes recommendations and further discussion is held until a sample budget is hammered out that he can present to the School Board.

It is not an easy process. There are heated debates regarding who believes their program is more important than someone else's. If it is a matter of losing a program or funding student activities, which one do you think will be voted down?

Student activities encompass a wide range of services from debate club, drama club and of course, the athletic activities. Student activities include Schoenbar Middle School as well as the high school. I think most of the participants agreed that student activities were an important part of the education system. I also think that most of the participants understand how participation in these extracurricular activities benefits not only the kids but the community as well. Obviously living on an island with little else for our children to participate in, I feel strongly that student activities are a vital part of my children's education. All my kids have participated in student activities of one sort or another, and I've volunteered in a variety of different ways. Even with the amount that was approved for this year's student activities, if I remember correctly, the Kayhi principal said an additional $400,000 had to be raised to cover everything. That's a lot of bake sales.

One comment from Doug Gregg, the principal at Revilla, was that he felt by cutting the student activities from the budget, it would garner more community awareness and hopefully more support in the fight for additional funding. He felt if positions or programs were eliminated, that did not have the same impact on the community as cutting student activities would. If any of you know Mr. Gregg, I'm sure you are all well aware of the countless hours he has given to a variety of student activities in this town, so although it was difficult to hear him put it that way, I don't believe he is against student activities - I believe he feels that it's time to get some community support for the budget overall. What is needed now is more community awareness and more community support to discuss the issue with State and local representatives who control the funding. I believe that is an area you would be instrumental in.

I don't know what the answers are - heck, I don't even know what all the questions are, but I do know you have a lot of drive and determination and can make a big difference in this situation. Our State legislatures need to be aware of the difficulties we are having with the level of funding provided. The KGB needs to understand the difficulties the School District is experiencing with their level of funding. The only way they are going to know that is for all of us to get very vocal. I'm sure there will be many opinions on how the funding provided can be best spent - personnel, programs, etc. However, one thing to keep in mind is that if more funding is provided - those funds have to come from somewhere. Locally that usually means an increase in either the property tax rate or apparently the assessed value of homes - in other words, from all of us. So along that line, year-long sustained economic development needs to continue to be in the forefront of our local elected officials and members of the community to return Ketchikan to the strong, vibrant community it once was.

I would really like to watch your daughter play basketball at Kayhi for however many years she has left. I'd like to continue to watch my son as well and hopefully my granddaughter at some point. Everyone needs to be involved in this process.

DeAnn Turner
Ketchikan, AK

Received March 04, 2008 - Published March 04, 2008


Related Viewpoint:

letter Ketchikan School Board: Come on guys! By Charles Edwardson

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