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Begich Welcomes $23.5 Million for Alaska Education

Funds will protect jobs, help reduce class sizes

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today welcomed the U.S. Department of Education's distribution of $23.5 million to support education jobs in Alaska.

"This is good news not just for Alaska educators but also for students and families who expect our schools to prepare children for a successful future," Begich said.  "I am pleased that Governor Parnell and his administration applied for this one-time assistance."

Under the so-called "teacher-jobs" provisions of a fiscal relief bill passed by the Senate and signed into law last month, $10 billion was approved to avoid teacher layoffs, reduce class sizes and protect existing education jobs around the country. States needed to apply for the education funding by Sept. 9.

One example of how the teacher-jobs bill will help Alaska comes from the Anchorage School District, which has indicated it would use its portion of the funding to reduce class sizes and bolster tutoring and intervention programs for struggling students. The district recently eliminated 75 teaching positions through attrition but was forced to lay off support staff, including teaching assistants.

Nationally, the education fund will support jobs in the current school year and be distributed to states by a formula based on population figures, according to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.  States can distribute their funding to school districts based on their own primary funding formula or districts' relative share of federal Title I funds.

Begich voted in favor of the measure, H.R. 1586, which passed the Senate 61-39 on August 5.

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