School has done enough to establish the need
When the voters of Skagway approved a sales tax increase in 2007, they did so at the urging of assembly members who listed the school high up on a list of needs. In fact, it was right behind the top need of making new clinic bond payments, but those payments total barely half of the additional funds taken in each year from the sales tax increase.
It can certainly be argued that there are other needs – public safety, streets and sidewalks, etc. – but right now, there is no greater need in Skagway than the school.
Forget depleting the forest receipts account – it should be preserved at an adequate level for school infrastructure needs. But we are fortunate to have a healthy sales tax account that is there for a reason. Use it. We now receive an extra $5 per cruise passenger from the state for borough infrastructure needs, so put what we collect here from our sales tax into what matters most, helping maintain and improve the quality of life that we enjoy. And it starts with having a good school.
The school has already cut 17 percent of its budget. If the mayor and assembly insist that the district cut more, then we would fully expect them to take the hatchet to every department in the municipality. That would mean cutting police officers, fire and clinic personnel, public works, office and visitor center staff, on and on. Do we want that? Of course not.
If budgets have to be cut, then you do your best to work within the system, with the people involved, to make it work at a reduced level that still accomplishes the service – and addresses the need.
The school board just went through a painful process to come up with a plan for educating 72 students. They addressed the need. Now the borough assembly must recognize this, fund it, and move on to other needs.
At the same time, everyone who has a school age child in the community must do what they can to commit their children to the school. This means people who leave for the winter need to stick around at least long enough to have their kids counted in October. This means parents of home-schooled kids need to enroll in programs through our school so they too are also counted. That way, everyone here has a stake in addressing the need. – WJB