SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Also Astonished!
By Mark Jaqua


May 27, 2011

I share Ms. Plenert's sense of astonishment regarding the KGBSD budget, however, my friend; I'm not so sure you are as good at math as you propose. The FY2011 Expenditure Authority Request, (available right next to your letter in Sitnews under School Board Packets -- see Meeting Materials, May 11) shows a total operating budget of about $36.6 million. I'm perplexed where your number came from.

What astonishes me is that the local contribution shown on that form is only about 10.6 million. The State provides 22.8 million and the federal government provides the rest. I'm astonished that this is such a good deal! We get a 2 for 1 return on the local property tax assessed for schools! This is like going to the A&P and for every apple you buy, you get 2 free, or going to the gas station and getting 2 gallons of gas for every 1 you buy. Where else do we get such a return on investment?

I say investment because education is not a commodity such as you propose. It s a service. This service is an investment in future generations that will be good doctors, lawyers, engineers, musicians, business owners and employees that I need. I m proud to live in the USA and State of Alaska where we believe that every child, not just the rich or fortunate, but every child, gets the opportunity for a public education regardless of how much their parents make. I quite agree that, based on the estimate of 2,100 children the pro-rated average per student from outside funding is about 17,000 per student, does exceed some family's income. Isn't it outstanding that no matter how disadvantaged a family may be, their children can have the same education as everyone else regardless of how much wages they take home?

Regarding Ms. Plenert's discouraging comment about money down a rat hole: Perhaps Ms. Plenert overlooks where that money goes. Again a casual look at the expenditures in the budget shows it goes to pay for local utilities, fuel, maintenance, salaries and benefits, food and transportation. This means people have jobs in schools, driving busses, sell goods and services to schools, and make living wages that pay rent, mortgages and purchase all manner of goods. Would you prefer that we just say Thanks, but no thanks. to the 22.8 million dollars of new money in our local economy? If so, I know many other communities would be happy to take Ketchikan s share. I wonder if you are proposing to return to the days when kids only get the education their parent could afford? If so, any estimate of how many families in Ketchikan could pay $17,000 per student out of their own pocket?

I very much agree with Ms. Plenert about the high rate of drop outs, those kids don't benefit from that federal and State largess. I'm sorry for that. But again, in the USA, we get liberty to make choices. Parents and kids that choose to turn their backs on free education opportunities can do so. The District's programs for alternative schools, charter schools, home school and correspondence programs can only do so much. Some families just don' t think education is important or valuable, and some kids are too young to know what they are wasting. I trust that I misread Ms. Plenert's point that the families and kids who do value education should be penalized by the actions of those that don't.

So while we agree that the school budget is astonishing, perhaps we are astonished for different reasons.

Mark Jaqua
Juneau, AK

About: "Single dad of one outstanding kid. Former KTN coach, volunteer, mentor and regular citizen interested in healthy communities."

Received May 26, 2011 - Published May 27, 2011


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letter School Budget By Laura Plenert

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