Eagle River students protest education funding cuts
Eagle River High School students are demanding to have a voice in a conversation directly affecting them.
They say won't stand for more cuts to education funding, so they held a "sit-in" to protest.
Just minutes after the bell rang to begin fourth period, hundreds of students walked out of class and headed for the commons to take a seat.
Junior Kali Spencer spearheaded the demonstration and says they're fed up with proposed cuts to education funding.
“When you are cutting the programs that kids come to school for you are showing how highly you prioritize us. I am calling upon the state Legislature to make a change to the budget. I'm calling for an increase in funding for education,” Kali said during a speech to her peers.
Lawmakers in Juneau have not approved next year’s education budget, but the Anchorage School District is expecting to receive flat funding from the state.
Because of inflation, ASD says that translates to a $13 million budget deficit.
To make up for the gap, the district says 91 full-time positions will have to go, including 50 classroom teacher jobs throughout ASD.
Students at Eagle River High say that's unacceptable.
“The constitution says 'We the people,' and we the students are showing how much we care. By all of us showing up and participating in this protest shows that we aren't just going to sit quiet while you take down our schools,” said sophomore Gabriella Shilling.
The students have three demands. They're asking lawmakers for an increase to the base student allocation, full funding for buses, and bond debt reimbursement by the state.
“To the people who say we are too young and we don't understand and that our voices should be brushed aside, I’d like to remind them that we'll be voting one day and that we will be that change whether they want to acknowledge it now or not, we are here and we are here to stay. We are here to make a change,” Spencer said.
Friday’s protest was organized by students and not associated with ASD. The principal estimates about a third of the school’s students participated.
Because it was a quick and peaceful gathering, he says students won’t be punished for expressing themselves.
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