Senate Upholds Commitment to Statewide Education
Budget provides over $43 million for school construction fulfilling Kasayulie decree
JUNEAU-The Alaska State Senate took a major step towards ensuring fair and adequate funding for school construction statewide. The Senate passed Senate Bill 26, the FY2016 Capital Budget, on Saturday. In the budget, the Legislature appropriated over $43 million for school construction in Kivalina.
“With this appropriation, the Legislature intends to fully resolve the Kasayulie litigation, and further the goal of providing for equal educational opportunity and adequate facilities across the state for the children of Alaska,” said Senate Finance Co-Chair Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River.
The Kasayulie case, filed back in 1997, claimed many rural schools were crowded, in disrepair and not funded as well as schools in urban areas. In the consent decree entered to resolve the litigation, the state agreed to provide appropriations for school construction projects in Emmonak, Koliganek, Nightmute, Kwethluk, and Kivalina through the Capital Improvement Project grant program and passed legislation to equalize funding for rural and municipal school construction needs.
With this appropriation, the state is providing rural schools with the assurance of adequate facilities funding, and meeting its constitutional obligation to establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children in the state.
Kivalina is the final of the five school construction projects identified in the Kasayulie consent decree.
“These children have waited for 15 years while adults squabbled about how to provide them an adequate education under the settlement,” said Senator MacKinnon. “I am proud to say our kids in Kivalina will now have the same opportunities as other Alaskan students and we can close this chapter in our state’s history.”