Alaska’s school districts should be prepared for deeper cuts and maybe even fewer schools.

The Senate Education Committee began reviewing the state’s public school funding formula Wednesday morning. According to a presentation by the state Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), formula funding has increased $550 per student over the past six years.

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, chair of the Education Committee, said she’s not considering major changes to the formula itself, but said lawmakers are looking for efficiencies and are willing to consider measures like consolidating schools.

“We also have to look at the number of school districts we have across this state for the size of population. Is that a model that we can continue to sustain?” Hughes said in an interview Wednesday morning. “We’re looking at some major changes, but I think it’s going to be good for the students, I think it’s going to be good for those communities.”

Hughes said her committee will also look into cutting health care costs for DEED employees.

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