Knowles to ask for $33 million in education funding

Posted: Sunday, November 11, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Gov. Tony Knowles will ask the Legislature for $32.7 million more in education spending next year, including more money for statewide testing, teacher incentives and aid to rural schools.

The largest share of the request will be $22.9 million more in the foundation formula, the state's per student funding for schools.

Knowles also will ask for $1.2 million in additional aid for rural schools.

That program went unfunded last year and the Democrat governor called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to fix a disparity between urban and rural schools.

''I asked the Legislature to do that last session but they didn't even hear my bill. Don't worry, I'll be back,'' Knowles said during a speech Friday before the Association of School Boards in Anchorage.

The funding request includes $7 million the High School Graduation Qualifying Examination and statewide tests for grades three, six and eight.

Another $800,000 would be set aside for a student loan aid program to attract more teachers to Alaska.

The spending plan is part of a series of recommendations from an 11-member task force appointed by the governor to study education funding issues.

The Education Funding Task Force was created last year to form a multiyear spending plan for state schools. The funding recommended in the plan would be for the final budget suggested by Knowles, whose last term ends next year.

Overall education funding was increased last year by $31 million. Lawmakers earmarked $24 million in additional K-12 funding. The spending plan approved by the Legislature added $18 million to the state's $665 million school funding formula.

But lawmakers did not fund about $12.2 million of Knowles requests, including the teacher incentive package, additional school formula requests and additional aid to rural schools.

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