Borough Mayor Pierce undecided on vetoing $2.4 million in supplemental education funding

Apr 24, 2019

Credit Kenai Peninsula Borough

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is still contemplating whether to veto $2.4 million in supplemental funding for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved the funding earlier this month in an effort to reduce the number of pink slips handed out to teachers by the school district as it waits for the state Legislature and the borough to approve education funding for the following year.

Assembly member Willy Dunne spoke about the measure on KBBI’s Coffee Table Wednesday.

“We go through this cycle, which I think is unacceptable where we don’t know what our funding is going to be the following year and teachers get laid off,” he said. “The non-tenured teachers are given pink slips and said, ‘We can’t guarantee we’ll hire you next year.’ We’re losing some of our best and brightest teachers. They’re finding jobs in other places.”

Dunne said it was essential to approve the funding now as the district is making its hiring decisions before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Mayor Pierce has questioned whether the assembly should approve the funding before the Legislature and Gov. Mike Dunleavy settle on the state’s budget, which affects how much the borough can contribute to the district. Dunleavy has threatened to call special sessions if he doesn’t see movement on some of his legislative and budget proposals.

When asked on the Coffee Table, Pierce said he is still undecided on whether he will veto the supplemental funding approved by the assembly.

“I’ve got some uncertainties here like everybody else, and later this week, we have a meeting scheduled with the Dunleavy group to talk about some of what might happen,” he explained. “I’m not prepared at this time to give an answer on where we’re going to go with that. I think the outcome of that discussion might give me some additional information I’m going to need to make that decision.”

Pierce would have to veto the measure before the assembly’s next meeting on May 7. Assembly members would have until May 28 to attempt an override, which would require a two-thirds majority vote.