Large Settlement Discussion at Alaska NEA conference
$18 million could help fund low-income schools
An $18 million settlement was one of the major topics at this years Alaska’s chapter of the National Education Association conference.
Thursday the state announced its settlement with the group Citizens for the Educational Advancement of Alaska’s Children, after a court decision ruled that the state is not doing enough for some schools.
If it is approved the $18 million will be spread out over three years and will go towards funding programs for early learning, teacher retention and high school remediation.
Organizers say the overall goal of the conference is to discuss legislative issues, important activities and programs for schools across the state.
Rural school funding will also be a major issue because of the settlement.
NEA Alaska president says rural schools shouldn't’t have to pick and choose what programs are important and the money would ensure every kid gets quality education.
“It's absolutely critical we address the needs across the board, from those who are in our early childhood programs, to those who are headed out into the world of work, on to additional training or college,” said NEA Alaska President Barb Angagiak. “All of those individual students need our attention, need the resources to be available and the right programs to ensure they are successful.”
Rural teachers say there are many problems facing their schools right now including teacher retention and graduation rates.
They say it’s important the settlement money be used for early learning programs as well as helping high school students get their diplomas.
According to teachers, one of the biggest issues for rural schools are the fuel and energy costs associated with schools which need to be addressed as well.
“We have to talk about times when we can’t turn on the gym lights because we need to save on electricity,” said Tuntutujiak teacher Annette Barnett. “That to me is critical.”
“That fact that we're paying up to 60 cents a kilowatt hour to operate the building, fuel being at five and six dollars a gallon and some places much higher is resulting in cutting programs because we have to open the doors to operate the schools and it has a huge impact,” said Bethel Alternative Boarding School teacher Mike Husa.