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Senate Gives Boost to Charter School Funding Efforts

SB 235 will help charter schools compete for federal

Maintenance and start-up funds

April 15, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – SB 235, sponsored by the Senate Education Committee, won unanimous House approval today. The bill authorizes the Department of Education and Early Development to compete on behalf of Alaska charter schools for facility maintenance and start-up grant funds nationally available through the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, Alaska and its charter schools are ineligible. 

“Ask a charter school what their biggest hindrance is and they’ll tell you it’s the upfront costs and getting a facility they can afford long-term”, said Senate Education Committee Co-Chair, Senator Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage. 

Unlike normal public schools, which receive both formula funds and separate maintenance funds from the State, charter schools receive only formula, per-pupil, funding. This means charter schools are often left spending funds they would otherwise allocate to instruction for leasing of space, and facilities upgrades and maintenance.

“Competing successfully for these federal facilities grants will mean more State money going where it’s intended – teaching children,” said Representative Wes Keller, R-Wasilla, who sponsored the House companion to SB 235 and carried SB 235 on the House floor.

To make Alaska eligible for grant funds, SB 235 removes the statewide statutory cap which limits the number on charter schools. It also creates in statute the required state funding mechanism necessary to comply under the federal grant program.

“SB 235 reduces a major barrier to the development of charter schools”, Senate Education Committee Co-Chair Senator Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks, commented. “It strengthens Alaska’s charter schools and increases educational choices for parents and students.”

SB 235 now returns to the Senate for concurrence.

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