Hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the Alaska State Capitol on Monday to call for an increase in education funding.
The rally was supposed to come just before Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address, which wound up delayed a day due to poor weather. Here’s what Rebecca Braun, parent of a 16-year-old at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé, wanted to hear from the governor.
“If we value the next generation, we must invest in their education. That’s why I, Gov. Dunleavy, am introducing a bill to raise the base student allocation by $1,400. This amount begins to make up for this substantial bite inflation has taken over the last decade,” Braun told the crowd.
The BSA has risen just half a percent since 2017. The House’s Republican-led majority has so far offered a bill with a $300 increase. A parade of Democratic and independent lawmakers took the mic, each demanding a significant increase to the base student allocation.
An elementary school teacher’s aide in the Juneau School District, Phil Buettel, said he’s seen the results as districts pinch pennies.
“Important programs that support student engagement are facing cuts, things like arts and music, cultural programs, special education, P.E. and athletics,” he said. “In the prosperous state of Alaska, we can do better. We can do better. We must do better.”
High school junior Carson Carrlee said he wants to go into engineering, architecture or finance in college, but he said many prerequisites are no longer offered at local schools.
“I’m going to have to figure out a way to do that online through a college or drive out to UAS (University of Alaska Southeast) or something to get that class in before I go to college, because that’s what I’m passionate about. And that’s something that can be solved by raising the BSA,” he said.
Senate leaders said Tuesday they are in negotiations with their House counterparts on the pending education bill.