Senate Passes Critical Funding Increase for Alaska’s Schools
February 11, 2012
“Every year, school districts try to piece together their budgets while the legislature is still deciding how much they will get,” said Senator Thomas. “While our proposal is not everything school districts are asking for, this three-year increase will give them some predictability and stability, so they can produce more fiscally responsible budgets.”
The Base Student Allocation (BSA) increased by a rate of less than 2% per year from FY09-FY11. Last year, the Senate passed a bill that provided for an increase in the BSA as well as a new funding stream to strengthen vocational education programs around the state, but the BSA funding was removed by the House Finance Committee.
“Over the last ten years, our schools have made modest, but consistent gains. The dropout rate has fallen from 6.2 percent to 4.7 percent. Our scores on standardized tests have risen over the last ten years as well,” said Senator Thomas. “And when it comes to math, our eighth graders are performing above the national average. Part is this is due to the three-year BSA increases we had in the past. We would hate to see those gains lost because schools were not adequately funded this year.”
SB171 proposes a little more than a two percent increase each year, which is less than the rate of inflation. Both the Senate Education and Finance Committees received hours of testimony from schools leaders, parents and teachers in support of the increase.
“Most of our districts are projecting budget cuts and significant layoffs this year,” said Senator Meyer. “They are all facing the rising cost of energy, transportation and keeping pace with technology. This is not so much an increase as it is a way to help local governments and taxpayers. It will help schools focus educating our kids and improving graduation rates rather than trying to manage volatile budgets.”
SB171 now heads to the House for further consideration.
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