Mayor Charlie Pierce speaks at a Kenai Peninsula Borough meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Mayor Charlie Pierce speaks at a Kenai Peninsula Borough meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2019. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly fails to overturn mayor’s veto of education funds

The supplemental funding ordinance was an effort to keep some of the district’s non-tenured teachers.

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s veto of $2.4 million of supplemental funding for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will stand — after the action was sustained at Tuesday’s assembly meeting.

The Borough Assembly passed an ordinance April 16 increasing the fiscal year 2019 funds to the school district by $2,423,955. The ordinance passed last month, 5-4.

To overturn the veto, the assembly needed six votes in favor.

At Tuesday’s assembly meeting, there was no public comment or assembly discussion regarding the ordinance. The assembly voted 3-6, with assembly members Kelly Cooper, Hal Smalley and Willy Dunne voting in favor of overturning the veto.

At the May 7 assembly meeting, residents dominated public comment with reactions to the veto. The majority of that public comment opposed the mayor’s veto.

The supplemental funding ordinance was an effort to keep some of the district’s non-tenured teachers. A memo from the ordinance says the additional funding would allow the school district to retain some non-tenured staff for the 2020 school year, and to also potentially provide a cushion to other potential state funding reductions.

Since the May 7 assembly meeting, the district offered contracts to 62 non-tenured teachers at a special school board meeting May 16. Pierce issued a memo May 6, to residents explaining his reasoning for the veto, which cited future fiscal uncertainty at the state level.

“It can be argued that Governor Dunleavy’s proposed budget plan to reduce $18 million in revenue from KPB’s revenue and $20 million from the school district’s revenue may be unlikely this upcoming year, yet until their budget process is completed and signed, it is myopic to overspend now,” the memo reads. “Hedging on our future ability to provide funding that we may not have only makes our situation potentially worse.”

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