While the Legislature is still hammering out how much money to put toward the base student allocation, the Senate Finance Committee has included a major injection of funds in their version of the operating budget.
Where the House had proposed giving school districts $25 million in one-time education aid, the Senate Finance Committee has bumped that number up to $100 million to be divided among school districts based on their enrollment numbers. Their operating budget would allocate $100 million to schools during the 2015-2016 academic year as well.
Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican who co-chairs the committee, said the number serves as a placeholder while lawmakers figure out how they want to adjust the funding formula.
“We want as a group to figure out education,” Kelly told the committee. “We may need some time to do that. This amendment gives us time, while we are not putting the school districts too much out on a limb as we make our determinations.”
The number could change if the Legislature settles on a more permanent fix for education funding by increasing the base student allocation. That’s the amount that each school gets for every student enrolled, and it has sat at $5,680 per child for the past four years.
Gov. Sean Parnell has proposed increasing the BSA by $85 per student this year, which adds up to a little over $10 million for the whole school system. His plan would build in future boosts to the BSA over the next couple of years.
The Democratic Minority in the Legislature has argued Parnell’s plan does not do enough to plug school districts’ budget shortfalls and avoid teacher layoffs. Their legislation would increase the BSA by $404.
The Senate operating budget is expected to come to a vote next week, and then be sent to the House so that differences can be worked out.
- The Juneau Assembly has appointed Dr. Bob Urata and Lance Stevens to the nine-member Bartlett Regional Hospital board. Urata is a physician with a longtime practice. Stevens is a former president of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.
- Recent heavy snow accumulation is pushing moose onto Alaska roads increasing collision danger. When snow piles up, you’re more likely to encounter moose on roads.
- The Juneau Access Project envisions 50 more miles of road up Lynn Canal to a ferry terminal closer to the road system. It has divided the Juneau community for decades and faces significant opposition from other southeast cities including Haines and Skagway. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker pulled the plug on the $574 million project last month.
- The Juneau Assembly heard more than 90 minutes of testimony from dozens of residents including merchants, social workers and homeless people themselves who all agreed on one thing: Juneau has a serious homeless problem. But speakers had radically different viewpoints.