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Alaska teachers, parents and school leaders rally for state education funding

Alaska teachers, parents and school leaders rally for state education funding
A dog joined the chorus in support of more funding for public schools at a rally on the Capitol steps in 2014. Almost 10 years later, the teachers are raising the same issue in a rally planned on January 23, 2023. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTO)

Teachers, school administrators and parents plan to meet outside the capitol building in Juneau on Monday night to demand more funding for education.

Alaska funds school districts through a formula called the Base Student Allocation, or BSA. It determines how much money per student a district receives from the state.

BSA has not moved substantially since 2017. Juno at noon Last weekCheyenne Cuellar, a science teacher at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School, said the BSA has not kept pace with the Consumer Price Index for Urban Alaska, which has increased by 15.4% in the last five years.

“Since 2017, it has only increased by 0.5%,” she said. “Districts across the state are really feeling the effects.”

Last year the BSA increased by $30. This year, the Alaska Association of School Boards is called for raising At least $860. Village. Mike Dunleavy proposed budget did not include an increase in the BSA, although he acknowledged the “need to address inflationary issues”.

Dzantik’i Heeni music teacher Mike Buki said flat-funding education stifles negotiations with teacher unions. Juno Education Association declared stalemate In his talks with the school district last month. Faculty and Staff in Fairbanks deadlock has also been declared,

“In the classroom, you can just feel that the resources aren’t there โ€” more and more students year by year with fewer and fewer resources,” Buki said. “It all goes back to formula funding.”

State funding also affects the district’s ability to hire other workers, such as bus drivers or paraprofessionals who work with special needs students. this fall, a shortage of bus drivers Anchorage School District bus routes were left without service for a week.

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Buki said budget cuts hurt students, especially when class sizes have to be increased.

“One of the sixth grade teachers I know started this year with 43 kids in her class,” he said. โ€œThese are 11-year-olds. 43 of them – many of them with special needs. How on earth is he going to help a student who is struggling with something in that class? It’s impossible.”

The Alaska Association of School Boards has also called for a defined benefit retirement plan for teachers. juno sen jesse kiehl introduced a bill Giving public employees, including teachers, the option of paying into pensions.

Monday’s rally will take place at 6 p.m. on the steps of the Capitol Building.

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