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Tuesday, April 30, 2013


We agree with those that say "schools are fundamentally communities". 

The following is the testimony your citizen lobbyist gave tonight during public comment to the borough assembly in support of equitable funding of what we believe is the the heart of the borough, our public school system..

"Our school district has been given a very clear directive by the borough mayor and assembly.  Bring forward a reasonable request for funding along with an even more efficient plan for use of those funds.  The district has been told to work harder and smarter.

The Mat Su School District has done that.

The district was told to present a clear thoughtful budget document that assures that the district is not only being good stewards of the funds they are receiving from the borough but the state and federal government too. There needs to be documentation to show that regardless of the uncertain funding challenges, that Mat Su students are coming first as are efforts to increase their academic successes.

The Mat Su School District has done that.

The message from the borough to the district has been that there needs to be continual evidence that the resources are used to employ top rate employees but no more than required to do the job and that the ratio of administration to staff is to be kept minimal making it the leanest district of its size in the state.

The Mat Su School District has done that.

Another directive has been to use local valley vendors and recognize valley business whenever possible. The district is to give priority to the 207 active vendors in Palmer and 380 vendors in Wasilla that they do business with. Data shows that for every $1.00 the district spends it returns $9.00 in investment right back into our valley.

The Mat Su School District has done that.

The district has been instructed that school choice for parents and students with a robust curriculum should be a top priority. With 11 non-traditional schools and 3 alternative high schools making 14 of the 45 schools choice based learning

The Mat Su School District has done that.

The mayor and assembly directed the school district to work with the state and our legislative delegation for funding level increases to meet the needs of a growing student enrollment and to continue to close achievement gaps, and increase college and career readiness.

The Mat Su School District has done that.

Now as a voter, a multiple property taxpayer, and advocate for a fair and equitable public education system I am asking the Mat Su assembly and mayor to do your part to meet a 3% increase in local funding to the school district as requested and in fact do more if you can. Rebate of property tax paid from leased space for Charter schools this year should be clear to make that funding come to the district as an additional piece of funding as the ordinance was intended.

There has been a visible increased cooperation between the school district and borough this year. The district's foresight in remodeling this room for district training needs became a great asset to the borough to seamlessly utilize it during construction of borough public space saving potentially thousands of dollars in renting other accommodations. 

Dr. Paramo and her staff has done a good job with the budget, maintaining aging facilities, planning for new schools and most importantly in continuing to keep our district a leader in education in our state. The district deserves the reasonable request for increase in funding to continue the job to not only to educate the needed workforce in our future but honor the family wage jobs that they provide to the valley.

"The borough assembly should just do this.  

There was passionate public testimony from a number of people who drove all the way from the Talkeetna to plead for borough funds to match grant and state funds to build a needed yesterday public library. Libraries are the center of the universe for a lot of our residence and even more so outside the core. The librarian of the Sutton Library is now finished and well in use in that area. They joined the chorus recommending the assembly fund their neighbors in the north so they could enjoy the benefits to the community a new facility provides. 

Champions for funding for the Sexual Assault Response Team turned out along with those that dream of the economic development possibilities if only more funds were available. 

Hats off to the brave employee who put one foot in front of the other and spoke to the assembly about the increased cost and lost of production should the borough travel down the road of eliminating flex time. They even seemed to be listening. We need to remember that our public employees,teachers, firefighters, police etc are taxpayers too. In fact they are the bulk of our jobs in the valley. They have children in school, roads that need to be plowed and ambulance rides unfortunately to take. They SHOULD be encouraged to weigh in. 

We are hoping the assembly wasn't paying to close attention to the speaker that is sure the answer is selling off all borough land assets. The comparison to Dubuque, Iowa was interesting but we are still scratching our heads with last weeks comparison to Anahiem California by the economic development director.

The assembly knows what some people feel is important.  The assembly needs to know how you feel about funding for public education, social service grant matches (with no money allotted in the budget so far) services for public works, parks, planning and yes libraries.  They will meet again Thursday this week in Wasilla at the Central Fire Station to take up another round of public testimony.  

They will also vote on an ordinance to increase the local taxation of tobacco which is woefully less than other organized areas and is a great tool to discourage smoking particularly of our youth.  

We don't hand out kuddo's to Assemblyman Arvin very often for a variety of reasons and one of them being because he hasn't been here physically until lately to receive them. But he gets one for bringing this to the table for a vote and a revenue increase of benefit to the borough. 

Get out and make some noise to your assembly. If you don't you will have to wait another year before they take a whack at the borough budget. 

And who knows what kinda ax they will be holding next year...

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