Governor Parnell Has Controversial Stance on School Funding
ASD will be forced to make $18 to $20 million in cuts
For the first time in several years, the governor’s budget does not include an increase in the amount districts get per pupil.
School officials say the same amount of money they got last year won’t cover their costs in the year ahead.
Districts across the state are doing the math and coming up with some pretty big numbers.
According to ASD Superintendent Carol Comeau, the district had about $18 to $20 million in cuts, the same amount the public will see Monday when she releases her budget proposal.
“That’s going to impact directly the kind of education students are getting, and that’s something I don’t think is right,” said Comeau.
Comeau isn’t happy that the governor's budget keeps the per-pupil funding formula the same as last year, and she isn’t alone. The superintendent in Juneau says his small district plans to lay off 66 people - a loss of jobs that will trickle far beyond the classroom.
“…[T]he problem [is] with that much income stop[ping] shopping in local stores, stop[ping] eating in local restaurants - stop contributing to local nonprofits, and the domino effect,” said Juneau Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich.
The problem isn’t just that funding is staying the same while costs are going up, it’s compounded by the fact that last year schools got some one time only funding, which won’t be coming back.
Governor Sean Parnell says he understands the concern, but points out that over the last four years the state funding formula has in fact increased.
“It’s never enough for some districts and it’s a struggle for all, I get that’s part of the give and take of the legislative process,” said Governor Parnell.
Legislators may decide to give schools more money, and districts hope they do, but the governor says he doesn’t believe that increasing the funding formula is the right way to do the math.
Governor Parnell says he does support the performance scholarship program – a program that provides money for graduating seniors who qualify. The Alaska Teacher’s Association says there are other programs that should get more funding.
NEA Alaska, the local chapter of the National Education Association, released a statement Thursday, saying it was “shocked” at the governor’s failure to address K-12 education, after Parnell said education was a top priority.