Complete the Commitment: Senator Olson Introduces Legislation To Enable Kasayulie Lawsuit’s Last Project
Bill seeks project financing equality with other Kasayulie projects on final lawsuit commitment
JUNEAU – Senator Donny Olson (D-Golovin) introduced legislation this week to assist the community of Kivalina in construction of a new school. Kivalina School was the 5th and final schoolhouse the State of Alaska committed to build upon achieving settlement in the long standing Kasayulie lawsuit.
In 2011, after 14 years, a settlement was reached in the Kasayulie lawsuit. The settlement was predicated on the states recognition of its constitutional obligation to provide rural education and an acknowledgement that in years past this obligation had gone unfulfilled.
The settlement called for construction of five new schools in rural Alaska. To date schools in Emmonak, Koliganek, Nightmute, and Kwethluk have been completed; Kivalina is the final school in this important agreement recognizing Alaska’s duty and commitment to provide educational opportunities to all its citizens, including those residing in rural Alaska.
“The Kivalina School represents the final commitment in a historic and important settlement between rural Alaska residents and a State, bound by its constitution, to educate its citizens. Kivalina should not suffer an economic burden any greater than other communities benefitting from the Kasayulie settlement,” said Senator Olson.
Recognizing the importance of this commitment and duty to rural education, Governor Walker included funds in his budget requests this year to begin construction on a road to a school site for the Kivalina community.
Among communities featured in the Kasayulie settlement, Kivalina was the only community residing in an incorporated borough. This created an unequitable matching contribution with the other schools and communities in the Kasayulie settlement. Senate Bill 94 levels the playing field, requiring the local contribution for Kivalina to mirror the other four schools already constructed under the Kasayulie settlement.
“Passage of Senate Bill 94 ensures equitable construction terms and that the State will honor the commitments made in the Kasayulie settlement to rural Alaska in full,” said Senator Olson.