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Stevens to help iron out school funding

Kodiak, peninsula senator selected for task force

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2007

Senate Majority Leader Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, has been selected to serve on the Joint Legislative Education Funding Task Force, Stevens’ office announced Thursday.

Also named to the panel is Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer.

Stevens, who represents Senate District R, which includes Seaton’s House District 35 and covers the lower Kenai Peninsula, and Seaton will join four other senators and four other members of the House of Representatives on the new task force.

On Thursday, Gov. Sarah Palin announced the eleventh member — Carl Rose, executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards.

Rose was first elected to the Skagway School Board in 1974, and was president of the AASB by 1983. He became its director in 1987. According to information provided by the governor’s press office, the AASB represents 53 local school districts and works with partner organizations to promote education, health, welfare and safety of children and youth. The task force will attempt to find a new kindergarten through 12th grade funding formula that is fair to students in the state’s rural and urban school districts.

“The task force is being asked to take a critical look at the complex funding formula that sets per-pupil funding, balances differing costs between urban and rural districts, establishes local contribution levels and adds funding for students with intensive needs,” Stevens said. “This formula has enormous impacts on the state’s education systems and kids, so it’s urgent we find an equitable solution for all of our schools.”

“A rewrite of the foundation formula and tying it in with a PERS solution and cost sharing and revenue sharing is probably one of the most important revisions in anything we are doing in the Legislature,” Seaton said Thursday. “It has always been a very contentious issue and I look forward to the task force, especially with the quality of folks named to it, being able to work through issues important to the various districts across the state.”

The task force, expected to meet during July and August, has been charged with developing a plan of action by Sept. 1. Lawmakers hope to consider new legislation regarding the funding formula during the 2008 legislative session.

Other senators named to the task force were Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, and Johnny Ellis, D-Anchorage.

Other House members include Mike Kelly, R-Fairbanks, Bob Roses, R-Anchorage, Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, and Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue.



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