Leadership in the Alaska Senate introduced a series of bills on education Monday, one of which would eliminate the Alaska Performance Scholarship. Instead of paying for college for top performers in the state, the money would go to K-12 education. Senate bill 103 rewards districts for finding innovative ways to lower the cost of education.


Sen. Shelley Hughes, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said the move would help offset a 5-percent reduction to the base student allocation unveiled by the Senate Majority Monday.


“I know that the reduction, that’s a hard pill to swallow, I get that,” Hughes said, adding that $100 million would become available to school districts if SB 103 passed. “That will become available as districts become creative, out-of-the-box, innovative, to allow them to do more with less.”


But Anchorage School District Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop said she isn’t sure lawmakers can mandate more creativity.


“The innovations, I mean I applaud that – we need innovation in education. Education should meet 21st century needs, I’m not so sure that innovation is mandated,” Bishop said. “You set up the right opportunities and put the right people at the table, and we’re going to have, you know, phenomenal things are going to happen.”


As part of the series, the Senate Finance Committee also introduced measures to boost broadband speeds in Alaska schools and change the way curriculum is reviewed. All three bills have been referred to the Senate Education and Finance Committees.


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