Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Today, the Alaska State Senate passed Senate Bill 52 to increase education funding by $175 million for Alaska’s public schools and correspondence programs.
This significant increase provides school districts with a $680 addition to the Base Student Allocation (BSA) calculation, which the Senate Education Committee determined is the simplest, fairest, and most effective way to increase education funding for students in every public school and correspondence program in Alaska.
“The Alaska Constitution requires that we, as a state, maintain a public education system so that every child has access to good schools staffed by skilled teachers. We’ve heard from parents, students, teachers, school officials, and concerned citizens who all say that Alaska’s public education system is struggling to meet the needs of our students,” said Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Löki Gale Tobin, D-Anchorage. “Without additional resources, we will see more school closures, continued teacher attrition, and increased class sizes. This increase in resources will breathe new life into schools and set Alaska kids up for success with a great public education.”
“Providing adequate funding for public education is the number one priority for the Alaska Senate Majority. This is a fiscally responsible investment in public education and represents a bold policy choice to help Alaska’s public schools address years of increasing costs,” said Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, Vice-chair of the Senate Education Committee.
In addition to increasing the BSA, Senate Bill 52 includes additional support for pupil transportation and residential schools.
The legislation also calls on the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to collaborate with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to gather data on the progress of each high school graduating class in a school district.
“Alaska is a unique state, and our students follow unique paths. To overcome the challenges that public schools face, we need to look at all aspects of our public education system, help it meet high standards, and set students up for success in life, no matter what route they follow – be it college, vocational and educational training, internships, or something else,” said Senator Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks. “If we can’t get students to the classroom or help them study at residential schools, the resources waiting for them there will not be fully tapped. Without sufficient funding for pupil transportation, school districts may be forced to cut school-bus routes – placing even more of a burden on parents, especially those who pay for childcare. SB 52 helps students in the classroom and helps get them there.”
Senate Bill 52 passed the Alaska State Senate Thursday, May 11 by a vote of 16-3. The Alaska House of Representatives will now consider the bill.