• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
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

    2nd annual ‘Stop the Violence’ block party: ‘We all can play a role’

    by Eric Ruble on Aug 01, 19:02

    The group We Are Anchorage hosted a block party in the parking lot of the Northway Mall on Saturday. The event, called “Stop the Violence,” aimed to gather people from across the city to take action against the recent violent crimes involving Anchorage’s youth. “It doesn’t matter what you look like, what part of town […]

  • Weather

    Weekend weather forecast, Aug. 1

    by KTVA Weather on Aug 01, 18:50

    Anchorage Expect plenty of sunshine on tap for the weekend as high pressure is in control of our weather pattern. This will leave our temperatures well above normal into the low 70s. Kenai Peninsula & Prince William Sound Mostly sunny skies with a few clouds from time to time will be the weather story for […]

  • Lifestyle

    Web Extra: An inside look at Alaska’s renewable island

    by Hope Miller on Aug 01, 12:23

    Planted on Pillar Mountain, Kodiak’s six wind turbines are a fixture in the community. At 80 meters tall each — a bit smaller than a football field — they perch above the town and serve as a symbol for the area’s movement toward renewable energy. In fact, Kodiak Electric Association — which serves the City of […]

  • Sports

    Palmer golfer takes bronze at Special Olympics World Games

    by Megan Mazurek on Aug 01, 12:05

    A golfer from Palmer is a bronze medal winner at the Special Olympics World Games. Garrett Stortz, 24, played in four 18-rounds of golf at Griffith Park. Stortz is a level 5 golfer and improved his personal best every day of play throughout the competition. It was something his coach, Scott Johnson, always knew was […]

  • News

    UPDATE: Playground fire at Alpenglow Elementary considered suspicious

    by Sierra Starks on Aug 01, 11:33

    Two months after a playground fire at a South Anchorage elementary school, the Anchorage School District is reporting another playground destroyed by flames. Crews responded to the fire on the Alpenglow Elementary School grounds just after 8:30 a.m. Saturday, according to the Anchorage Fire Department dispatch. Photos released by the Anchorage School District show charring […]

  • News

    Anchorage in Transition: Paul Alcantar reveals new ideas for Solid Waste Services

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 31, 22:32

    With the election of Anchorage’s new mayor, Ethan Berkowitz, comes a new administration. All this week during the 6 p.m. Evening News, KTVA be interviewing newly appointed department heads about their plans for the future of Anchorage. Friday, we were joined by Paul Alcantar, the new director for Solid Waste Services. Alcantar touched on the […]

  • News

    Berkowitz names new Anchorage Public Transit Director

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 31, 21:55

    Anchorage’s new mayor has announced another addition to his transition team. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz chose Jody Karcz as the new Public Transit Director for the Municipality of Anchorage, according to a statement from the mayor’s office. She will replace current director Tom Wilson, who retired July 14, People Mover said in a statement. The Public […]

  • Sports

    East High School moves closer to playing football on campus

    by Dave Leval on Jul 31, 21:41

    Canyan Linderman loves football, especially for East High School. “It feels amazing to put on the wings,” Linderman said, who is entering his senior season at cornerback. Linderman and the Thunderbirds want to improve on last season’s dismal 1-7 record. This year’s team is excited about the upcoming season, and not just for what may […]