The school year is nearly over as the Legislature deliberates the funding levels that will impact our children every day next year. Funding for Alaska schools was flat for many years. Only recently has the Legislature stepped forward, increasing the amount allocated for each student about 8 percent per year the last four years. Most of the increase has gone toward covering retirement obligations and inflation effects, but a small amount has reached the classroom.
This year the Legislature is considering various measures to support Alaska schools, including increased funding to account for geographic cost differences among districts, separating retirement and education funding, and reducing the base student allocation. Unfortunately, some school districts face a budget shortfall under the current balance of increases and reductions.
Great Alaska Schools, a statewide citizens coalition, is requesting that, instead of decreasing the base student allocation, the base student allocation be held constant while addressing geographic cost differences and retirement costs. This approach will provide a floor of support for all school districts and continue the Legislature’s recent history of providing incremental improvements that reach Alaska classrooms each year.
Children have only one shot at a good education. We urge the Legislature to invest in our children’s learning, an investment that will benefit Alaska for decades to come.
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