Students hold signs during their protest on Thursday, April 4, 2024 over the governor’s education veto. Photo courtesy of Kyi Gasmen

Cordova students joined a statewide demonstration last week, walking out of school to protest Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s education funding bill veto last month.  

The April 4 protest was staged across the state by students from more than two dozen schools, according to Alaska Public Media. Students walked out of class for 40 minutes, one for each legislator needed to override Dunleavy’s veto.  

At Cordova Jr./Sr. High School (CHS), 11 students walked out — including kids in student government, sports, and music programs. CHS senior and Cordova Times intern Kyi Gasmen said nobody from the faculty attempted to hinder the protest, and in fact, Principal Kate Williams thanked the participating students for their demonstration when they came back inside.       

Senate Bill 140 — which passed in the state House 38-2 and the state Senate 18-1 — would have included a $680 per-student increase in the Base Student Allocation (BSA), or 11%, plus funds that include more money for student transportation. Dunleavy warned he wouldn’t sign the education bill if it wasn’t amended to include more funding for charter schools, which would have cost the state $60 million.  

The governor vetoed SB 140 on March 14 like he said he would, and state legislators fell one vote short of overriding his veto days later.  

The Cordova School District (CSD) isn’t unique in its funding challenges.  


Before the March 14 veto, Cordova School Board President Barbara Jewell told The Cordova Times that even in the event of a $680 BSA increase, CSD would still face a large funding deficit. In the wake of the veto and subsequent failed override, CSD officials have been mulling difficult education budget decisions — including debating whether or not to axe food service, certain school-sanctioned activities, and district positions.  

“Their actions will cause significant harm to our district and our students unless the Legislature is able to come up with additional funding for the schools,” Jewell told The Cordova Times in a prior interview. “School will be open, but it won’t work. You can’t take that much money out of the district and have it work.” 

Cordova students found out about the demonstration on the Alaska Association of Student Government’s social media, according to Gasmen.  

Disclaimer: Kyi Gasmen is an editorial intern at The Cordova Times, and also participated in the walkout at Cordova Jr./Sr. High School.