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Alaska House Passes Time-Sensitive Legislation to Help School Districts

HB 135 Allows Flexibility for School Districts to Meet Grant Program Requirements


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Juneau – Today, the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 135, sponsored by Representative Dean Westlake (D-Kiana).  HB 135 will specifically affect appropriations made under the Educational Facilities Maintenance and Construction Fund, where current law allows school districts three years to identify and secure their portion of matching funds. 

This time-sensitive legislation extends the three year time limit to five years, and allows the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to grant case by case time extensions, of up to an additional three years, for school districts to raise the funds. 

The current law, which allows three years to come up with matching funds, is sufficient for the majority of projects.  However, there are sometimes exceptional circumstances outside of a school district’s control that can hinder their efforts.  HB 135 is aimed at those exceptions.          

“When the Alaska Legislature makes appropriations in this program, it is the intent to see projects through to completion,” said Rep. Westlake.  “HB 135 allows fluidity to account for real-world hurdles that can slow projects down or prevent them from happening.  This bill is about current and future projects that brings quality education to all Alaskans.”

If approved, HB 135 will immediately provide relief for the Northwest Arctic Borough School District and the Kenai Peninsula School District, which are both rapidly approaching the three year deadline.  Other recent examples of districts HB 135 could have helped in the past are the Yukon Flats School District, the Yupiit School District, and the Hoonah School District.

HB 135 passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 40-0.  The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration. 

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

 

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