Kate Wheelock


In 2013, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough initiated a challenge to the Alaska public education funding scheme by paying its required local contribution (RLC) to its school district under protest. The Borough subsequently filed a lawsuit against the State of Alaska in 2014. This Note discusses the supreme court’s constitutional analysis of the RLC in State v. Ketchikan. Despite extensive discussion of the RLC in the context of the Alaska Constitution’s Dedicated Funds Clause, the court failed to sufficiently analyze the RLC (a critical component of public school funding) in the context of the state’s responsibility for education—a duty rooted in the Public Schools Clause. This Note will argue that, unlike the challenge to the RLC under the Dedicated Funds Clause, a successful challenge to the RLC under the Public Schools Clause is a possibility. To prevent a hasty legislative response, the State should consider alternative funding schemes less reliant on RLCs before a court order demands it do so, particularly given the disparities in local contributions that are not necessarily proportional to borough revenues as well as the increased criticism of the RLC after State v. Ketchikan.

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