Conference committee cuts Alaska schools funding $13 million

first_imgEducation | Politics | State GovernmentConference committee cuts Alaska schools funding $13 millionMay 18, 2016 by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media Share:Protesters led by Great Alaska Schools speak out about potential last minute education funding cuts on Wednesday. (Photo by Anne Hillman/KSKA)State lawmakers cut education funding in the proposed budgets by nearly $13 million Tuesday night. They moved the money into the oil and gas tax credit fund.Previously, the House and the Senate both allocated full funding for education, which included a $50 increase to the per pupil state funding formula guaranteed by House Bill 278 in 2014.Legislative Finance Division Director David Teal said in the House budget, the government was going to use $145 million leftover money from fiscal year 2016 to pay for education. But during the conference committee meeting, they decided not to.“They put it into the oil and gas tax credit fund instead,” Teal said during a phone interview. He couldn’t say why because he’s not a legislator.Senate Majority spokesperson Michaela Goertzen wrote in an email that the conference committee chose not to fund the increase because it “was approved under vastly different budget conditions. … Given the current state budget deficit, we are not in a position to continue the increase for FY17.”Teal said the exact impacts on each school will depend on student counts in the fall.Anchorage School Board member Tam Agosti-Gissler said the district estimates they will have to trim $4.6 million from the Anchorage School District budget if the legislature keeps these cuts. She said she doesn’t know how they would make up for the loss. Friday is the cutoff for issuing pink slips to non-tenured teachers, and the deadline for tenured teachers already passed.“And so that puts us in a really big bind in terms of how we’re going to balance this budget,” she said.Fourteen-year-old Anchorage student Galen Schmidt attended a protest in downtown Anchorage with about 25 other community members. He said the cuts to education will have impacts beyond just this year.“I think more funding can open new doorways for a lot of students,” he said. “And I feel that states that invest the most in education see the most benefits in the long run, and states that invest the least in education have (negative) consequences.”Both houses must vote on whether or not to accept the conference committee’s budget.Share this story:last_img

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