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Senate Passes Bill Expanding Alaska’s Boarding School Programs

Senate Bill 47 removes sunset provisions and expands residential education programs

JUNEAU-Today, the Alaska State Senate unanimously passed legislation to help Alaska’s boarding schools expand and succeed.  Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole, removes sunset provisions for providing stipends to state funded boarding schools as well as expanding the program to boarding schools started after 2005 and magnet schools for shorter periods of training.

“This bill will help rural students attend schools which offer classes, vocational training and extracurricular activities currently unavailable in their hometowns as an incentive to stay in high school and graduate,” said Senator Coghill.  “These schools have proven track records of boosting graduation rates, improving the individual health of students, and getting Alaska’s kids more ready for the workplace.”  

The stipends help school districts cover monthly costs of residential care, including meals, 24/7 supervision, and round trip transportation to and from the school once a year.  The legislation also adds a provision that allows school districts to contract with Alaska Native organizations and non-profit corporations for these essential services.

“These boarding schools provide another avenue to success for students in Alaska,” said Senator Coghill.  “Most of the students who have attended these programs not only graduated high school with a clear picture of what they wanted to do- they also either attended college, got further vocational training, or joined the armed forces.”

Senator Coghill first spearheaded efforts for the stipends back in 2005, when he introduced and the Legislature passed a bill expanding the stipend program to all students who wished to attend a boarding school instead of just those students who did not have a high school in their community. 

Three schools currently qualify for the reimbursement: Nenana, Galena, and Bethel.  However, the Department of Education is currently soliciting applications for three additional boarding schools statewide.

“Boarding schools are not a new question or new solution in Alaska.  Most students attend these programs because their hometown schools can’t offer the classes needed or they have problems at home,” said Senator Coghill.  “The process has gotten better and better over time.  I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate for their unanimous support of this bill which will provide new opportunities in training and education for Alaska’s high school students.”

Senate Bill 47 now heads to the House for further consideration.

For more information, please call Rynnieva Moss in Senator Coghill’s office at (907) 465-3719.

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