Learning from rural Alaska

By September 27, 2011Education

Two House committees are on their way to rural Alaska to see firsthand how education funds are being spent.

The House Community and Regional Affairs and House Education committees will visit Galena and Koyukuk this week for a glimpse into life in rural Alaska.

Galena is a town of about 500 people on the Yukon River and home to a statewide boarding school and distance education program. Known as IDEA, the Interior Distance Education of Alaska supports home school students throughout the state, including Juneau.

Representative Cathy Munoz chairs the Community and Regional Affairs Committee. She says the committees want to see the results of programs they’re funding.

“We altered the foundation formula in the last legislative session to increase funding for vocational education. We also funded the governor’s scholarship program, so we’re very interested in what school districts are doing to encourage and prepare students to take advantage of that opportunity once they graduate. And then we’re also investing in vocational education infrastructure throughout the state,” Munoz said. “We’re trying to get Alaskans prepared for the jobs that are going to be required as we move forward into the future.”

The lawmakers – from Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Stony River – will also stop in Koyukuk – a village of about 100 on the Yukon River.

Munoz says the committee hopes for a clearer picture of the unique rural subsistence economy, so legislators know better how to support the communities.

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