Rally held in opposition of education vetoes

On Tuesday, June 27, supporters of increased education funding gathered to show their opposition to the vetoes made by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 9:01 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Tuesday, June 27, supporters of increased education funding gathered to show their opposition to the vetoes made by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

The Rally to Override School Veto, took place in front of the Global Credit Union building at the intersection of Helmricks Avenue and the Old Steese Highway. From 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., educators, support staff, legislators and supporters stood together to display their disapproval of the veto to the base student allocation.

“What we’re fighting for, for these vetoes are kids not cuts, because it affects everybody,” said Danielle Logan, the president of the Education Support Staff Association (ESSA). The ESSA is a union for custodians, teachers assistants and all other support staff in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

According to Logan, the cuts could result in more staff leaving their positions, including educators. She included school supplies, class sizes and services as other areas at risk of loss due to the cut in funding which would result in “kids not getting the education they need, the adequate education they need,” said Logan.

On June 19, Gov. Dunleavy announced the item line vetoes he made to the states operating budget including a 50% cut to the base student allocation. This dropped the one time increase created by the legislature from $680 per student to $340 per student. The base student allocation was still raised from its current level.

“We have a letter asking to override coming out this week and that could happen all the way up until I think the first couple of days in the session in January, which makes it really hard on districts,” said Rep. Maxine Dibert, the democratic representative for house district 31 in the Alaska house of representatives.

“It’s a huge gap between now and January,” added Rep. Ashley Carrick, a democrat representing house district 35. “I think we need to override the vetoes post haste, right now because by the time we get to next January, school districts will have already made their funding decisions,” said Carrick. She said that by then, budget decisions will have already been made and that districts will have already notified staff of cuts and schools may be closed. Carrick also spoke about the situation the Fairbanks North Star Borough now faces in trying to support the school district with increased funds. “That’s just something that should’ve been dealt with on the state level this last session,” Carrick said.

According to Carrick, not all hope is lost for supporters however. “We have a bill that would make the BSA increase permanent,” said Carrick.

Savannah Fletcher who holds seat F on the borough assembly was in attendance as well, supporting the cause. She said that the loss of funding will “impact our whole community.” While the borough won’t vote on adding funds to the school district until July 27, Fletcher wants to give all $4 million in the reserve budget for the borough to the school district.

Also in attendance was assembly member David Guttenberg, former representative of district 34, Grier Hopkins and the new superintendent of the school district, Luke Meinert.

For the time being, the school district will have to work with the funds they already have and the extra funds they may receive from the borough.