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Senate Passes SB 235 to Benefit Charter Schools' Funding Efforts

B 235 will help charter schools compete for federal

maintenance and start-up funds

April 8, 2010, Juneau, Alaska – SB 235, sponsored by the Senate Education Committee, won unanimous Senate 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 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,” Senator Meyer added.

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 with minimal State involvement, but maximized local initiative and control,” Education Committee Co-Chair Senator Joe Thomas, D-Fairbanks, commented. “It strengthens Alaska’s charter schools and increases educational choices and opportunities for parents and students.”

SB 235 now moves to the Alaska House of Representatives for further consideration.

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