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.
- Heli-skiing has long been a controversial topic in Haines. The interests of the industry often clash with people who live near heliports and don’t want the noise disturbing their peace and quiet. But there’s another group that’s impacted by helicopter noise: mountain goats.
- In the Northwest Arctic, caribou hunting has been contentious for years. Alaska’s largest herd continues to decline while tensions have emerged between rural subsistence users and outside hunters.
- From the Aleutian island of Akutan to the arctic village of Kiana, 13 communities have been crowned champions of a rural energy competition. The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that it will help these communities cut their energy use by 15 percent by training local utility providers.
- It’s costing 14 percent more to take the ferry to and from the Lower 48. The higher fare is part of another round of tariff increases aimed at boosting income and equalizing rates across all routes.