State Senate Voted For a $100 Million Increase for Per Pupil Funding
By a vote of 18 to 2 the senate supported an increase of $390 per pupil over three years
Defying Governor Sean Parnell, the Alaska State Senate today voted overwhelmingly for a nearly $100 million increase in the per pupil formula for K-12 schools.
By a vote of 18 to 2 the senate supported an increase of $390 per pupil over three years.
The funding formula, known as the Base Student Allocation (BSA), has not been increased for two years.
Senators emphasized that the increase would not even match inflation.
“Our school districts, local governments and property-tax payers deserve the fiscal certainty that SB 171 provides,” said Senator Joe Thomas (D-Fairbanks). "Let's send a message that the state supports Alaska's children and wants to give them the tools they need to become successful members of society and support themselves."
“But sometimes overloading or helping to overload is kind of the bureaucratic part of it, without asking how do we structure it, so the best education gets to the classroom, is something I've always struggled with,” said Senator John Coghill (R-North Pole). “I haven't heard that debate in this yet."
Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau welcomed the senate's vote, which she said would mean an additional $9 million for the district next year.
Parnell opposes an increase in the BSA because of uncertainty about oil production and prices, which account for roughly 90 percent of state general funds.
Parnell said he would prefer to appropriate money for specific needs on a one-time basis.