The Ketchikan School Board unanimously approved a Resolution Wednesday asking state lawmakers to address disparities in the required local contribution for public education.
That issue was the subject of a lawsuit brought by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly. After winning at the superior court level, the borough lost in early 2016 on appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled that the state’s required local contribution does not violate the state’s constitutional prohibition against dedicated funds, or earmarks. During discussion Wednesday, School Board Member Glenn Brown wondered whether such a resolution was necessary.
“This is more of a ‘They already know,’” he said. “Glen probably knows the number off the top of his head, how much we invested in the lawsuit.”
“Upwards of $450,000-$500,000,” replied School Board Member Glen Thompson, who was on the assembly while the lawsuit made its way through the courts.
“And it was the talk of the town and the state,” Brown continued. “I can’t believe that any of the people we’re trying to reach with this resolution aren’t already well aware of our position.”
School Board Member Kim Hodne, who proposed the resolution, said he understands that everyone knows Ketchikan’s official position on the issue, but, “I like the idea of keeping this – we’re not going to just go away because a court case failed. And they were wrong in their decision, in my opinion. But it is what it is. So, through resolution, we keep it front and center until they actually do address it.”
Thompson added that two Supreme Court justices had written concurring statements that indicated they might be more open to a challenge based on the state Constitution’s public schools clause, rather than the dedicated funds clause. So, the borough has the option of trying again.
Also Wednesday, the board agreed in a 4-2 vote to cancel the Dec. 27 meeting. Thompson and Hodne voted no.