• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
News Alert: Debris from missing plane discovered on Lake Clark - Read More
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 11s

Lawmaker listening session sparks education debate

By Shannon Ballard 11:22 AM February 23, 2014

Anchorage legislators host second listening session. Outside the session, more people find a way to make their voices heard.

ANCHORAGE – An open mic opportunity drew hundreds to the Z.J. Loussac Public Library Saturday.

Anchorage legislators were all ears at the second caucus listening session of the year.

Again, it was dominated by education funding.

People spoke mostly about their hope for the state to raise the base student allocation by more than $400 and also debated Senate Joint Resolution 9, along with its companion measure, HJR1.

The proposal would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment allowing state money to go to private or religious schools.

People on both sides of the argument spoke up.

“Nothing quite arouses people’s concerns as much as educating their kids and making sure we have an educated workforce and we’re investing in our kids’ futures,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski. “You saw that today and it’s a good dialog, a good debate about how we go forward as a state and educate our kids as best we can.”

Because so many people signed up to speak, the meeting was extended for more than two hours.

Outside the caucus, more people found a way to be heard.

Two education rallies were held at the library.

But there’s a divide. One side dressed in yellow and the other in red.

Most people agree Alaska needs more money in its education system. The debate is about which schools should be given state funding.

Ray Kreig is in favor of SJR 9.

He said he wants a constitutional amendment allowing state money to go to private or religious schools.

“I’m very unhappy that low income and folks that are not wealthy or well off cannot send their kids to the best school for them,” Kreig said.

Deena Mitchell disagrees.

She said she wants an increase to base student allocation. If more public funds are set aside for education, Mitchell said, it should be given exclusively to public schools.

“If parents, within the myriad of choices that are available in our public school district, don’t find something that is adequate they have the right to go and buy private school education,” Mitchell said. “I have the right to go and buy private security protection for my home if I don’t think the police is adequately protecting me. It doesn’t mean I can access my share of tax dollars to pay for that.”

Wielechowski said he expects there to be some kind of increase in base student allocation.

But when it comes to using public funds for private schools, he said it’s too early to tell what will happen.

The arguments heard during the listening session will be used to debate the issue in Juneau.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Feds expand areas where ballots will be in native languages

    by Associated Press on Dec 09, 8:50

    More people who speak Alaska Native languages will be able to receive translated election material thanks to changes made by the U.S. Census Bureau. KTOO-FM reports that the Census Bureau announced on Monday that it has expanded the number of areas and languages eligible for election material translation. The Census Bureau designates languages for translation […]

  • News

    2 injured in head-on Seward Highway crash

    by Associated Press on Dec 09, 8:41

    Two people were injured in a head-on crash on the Seward Highway six miles north of the junction with the Sterling Highway. Alaska State Troopers say 56-year-old Virginia Ingram of Anchorage was flown by LifeMed helicopter to an Anchorage hospital after the crash at about 7 p.m. Wednesday. A Wasilla man, 66-year-old Ted Peter, was […]

  • Buyer Beware: Holiday gift exchange scams to watch out for on Facebook

    by CBS News on Dec 09, 8:03

    ‘Tis the season … to get scammed on Facebook. Two scams called the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” and the “Secret Wine Bottle Exchange” are spreading across Facebook like wildfire, and unfortunately, users are falling for it. It sounds like a fun Secret Santa-like gift exchange, but it’s actually a pyramid scheme in disguise. And worse, […]

  • Government proposes letting airline passengers make phone calls

    by Associated Press on Dec 08, 20:16

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The government is proposing that airlines be allowed to permit their passengers to make phone calls during flights using Wi-Fi despite complaints from flight attendants and others that the calls could be disruptive. The Department of Transportation’s proposal leaves it up to airlines whether to allow the calls. But carriers would be […]

  • Lifestyle

    A grim tally soars: More than 50,000 overdose deaths in US

    by Associated Press on Dec 08, 20:08

    NEW YORK (AP) – Health officials say more than 50,000 Americans died from drug overdoses last year, the most ever. The disastrous tally has been pushed to new heights by soaring abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers, a class of drugs known as opioids. The new numbers were part of the annual tally of deaths […]

  • Lifestyle

    Winter waterfowl: Biologists monitor mallards that don’t migrate

    by Heather Hintze on Dec 08, 20:01

    Every winter the Alaska Department of Fish and Game gets calls from people concerned about ducks that haven’t flown south for the winter. Waterfowl biologist Mike Petrula said there are about 1,500 mallards that make Anchorage their year-round home and they seem to be thriving. “Mallards are a very tough duck. They’re a big-bodied bird. […]

  • News

    Vigil planned for murdered Palmer teen

    by Lauren Maxwell on Dec 08, 18:54

    Organizers are expecting a big turnout Friday for a Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Prayer for David Grunwald event. Grunwald is the Palmer teen who was missing for weeks before his body was discovered in the Knik River Road area. Another 16-year-old has been charged with murder and kidnapping in connection to the slaying. Gina Spangler is […]

  • Conservation council looking for fish tales for new almanac

    by Daybreak Staff on Dec 08, 18:08

      Have any good personal or commercial fishing stories, anecdotes, pictures or art? The Alaska Marine Conservation Council is “calling all writers, artists, know-hows and know-nots” for a new Young Fisherman’s Almanac. The almanac, due out next year, is being put together to connect young fishermen and women. Most commercial fishing permit holders are over the […]