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Democrats Call on Governor to Make Stronger Commitment to Education

Keeping up with inflation allows schools to focus on where to improve, not where to cut

JUNEAU – Today, House Democrats called on the governor to join them in an effort to prevent Alaska’s school districts from having to make more cuts in the classroom due to inflation. The legislators sent a letter to the governor earlier today requesting that he be open to meeting school district needs by increasing the per-student allocation enough to cover the costs of inflation.

“The governor’s support could make the difference in giving local districts the resources they need to prevent more cuts in the classroom,” said Rep. Pete Petersen (D-Anchorage), the prime sponsor of legislation to ensure the per-student allocation keeps up with inflation. “It’s the state’s duty to make sure schools get those resources, and it’s important for our future that we honor that obligation to our students this year and every year.”

The Alaska Constitution requires the state to “establish and maintain” the state’s public schools, and court rulings have interpreted that to mean the state is obligated to provide adequate resources to school districts.

“Alaska’s educators need to know they have a commitment from the state so they can focus on where to improve, not where to cut,” the representatives say in the letter.

Alaska House Democrats are working to garner support in the House for increasing the per-student funding amount enough to cover the costs of inflation. There was no increase to the per-student allocation last year, and the governor has proposed to flat-fund it again this year. The Alaska Senate passed legislation to increase the per-student allocation incrementally over the next three years.

“The Senate bill is a good start,” said House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula (D-Juneau), “and if we’re going to expect our schools to improve and to perform to the standards they need to, we should do even better and at least keep up with inflation.”

Read the letter: http://akdemocrats.org/docs/021312_letter_to_gov.pdf

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