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House, Senate poised to negotiate rural funding measure

Posted: Monday, May 13, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- The House on Monday upheld its plan to prevent 22 rural school districts from losing state supplemental funding until a new study on education costs is completed.

The move sets the stage for negotiations between House and Senate Republicans over the measure.

The Senate voted late Sunday to reject changes made in an education bill that would give rural schools about $1 million more next year. The measure failed on a party-line vote of 14-5.

The House attached the funding measure to a bill last week that has already passed the Senate. On Monday the House voted 35-0 to uphold its changes and send the matter to a conference committee of three members each from the House and Senate to negotiate changes in the bill.

The school funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Williams, R-Ketchikan, would prevent 22 school districts from losing state supplemental funding until the results of a new study are in.

That study, which is supposed to be finished in November, is intended to give a more accurate picture of what it costs to educate students in different parts of the state.

Williams' bill changes a provision of the school funding formula adopted by the 1998 Legislature. That formula called for some districts to receive more money per student, while other districts were set to lose money.

Representatives of some rural parts of the state have complained bitterly that the formula hurt their districts.

Those who supported the new formula said the rural districts had been receiving too much money and the new formula is gradually fixing that inequity.

Williams' bill would stop the rural districts affected from losing any more state help until the new study is complete. The one-year change would cost the state about $1 million.

His bill has been stalled in the Senate Health Education and Social Services Committee.

The House attached the measure to a Senate bill to allow school districts to bill Medicaid for some health services provided to special education students.

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-- The Medicaid for students measure is Senate Bill 345.

-- The House measure for rural schools is House Bill 312.



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