Analysis: House, Senate wrestle with education funding

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By DAVID BOYLE

One of the most controversial issues facing the Alaska Legislature is whether K-12 education funding should be increased, and by how much.  The Senate and House leadership disagree on the amount.

In the past few weeks, the House Democrat minority wanted a $321 million increase of education, which would result from a base student allocation formula increase of $1,250 per student, as seen in HB 65. Importantly, this would be a recurring expense because it is proposed for the funding formula going forward.

The House Republican majority offered a $175 million increase, but put it outside the per-student funding formula.  Thus, it would be a one-time increase, not a recurring cost.  

During the House floor debate this increase in funding would have to come out of the Constitutional Budget Reserve, which requires a three-quarter vote of the Senate and the House.

The final House vote on funding K-12 from the reserve fund failed by one vote. Thus, the House sent the operating budget to the senate with no increase in the education formula.

On April 26, the Senate Finance Committee made several changes to the operating budget, which can be seen below. The Senate decided to fund K12 at approximately $175 million, the same as the original House figure.

The Senate did not put this money into the education funding formula. Like the original House budget, the Senate decided to fund this outside of the formula, as a one-time allocation. Here is a look at the senate’s final budget changes to the house budget:

Note that the nearly $175 Million increase is a $680 BSA equivalent increase. This is because the $175 Million increase is divided by the magnified student number of 257,000.  Remember, the actual number of students enrolled in brick-and-mortar schools is about 107,000 and the 257,000 number of students that is used in calculating the funding results from the the funding formula multiplier effect.

In reality, if the K12 funding is increased by $175 Million, the per student increase is about $1,635. This would be a 27% increase in per student funding, not the 14% a Senate Finance member stated.

If the entire Senate votes for this budget, then it will go to the House for approval. If the house approves, then it’s done. If the house disapproves, then the operating budget goes to a conference committee made up of members of the House and Senate leadership, including Finance Committee leaders.

One budgetary plus for the teachers’ unions is the Senate sent a message to its allies in the education industry and the governor, when it deleted $209,000 from the Department of Law for a Parental Rights in Education Advocate, as seen in the budget detail below:

But the big question is, “Will this increase in K12 funding improve academic outcomes?”.   There is no accountability required from the school districts for how to spend the extra funds.  Will it be spent on salary increases?  Will it be spent on more Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training?  Will it be spent on bonuses for district administration personnel?  

Or will the extra funding actually go to the classroom to improve student outcomes?

17 COMMENTS

  1. what a great system these Prog/Cons thieves have set up get the Progs to throw out crazy budget increase numbers then the Cons come in and just cut it to a still insane 1/2 the Progs suggestion it’s almost like it’s preplanned WHAT A RACKET

  2. > One of the most controversial issues facing the Alaska Legislature is whether K-12 education funding should be increased

    No it should not. It ought to be decreased. It is a cash grab by the teachers unions to further their agenda and has precious little to do with education. Throwing money at something is almost always throwing money away. How about empowering families and small co-ops instead? Or better yet, doing nothing at all?

  3. Don’t know about most of you folks, but I don’t remember during my working years getting a raise in pay for doing a sub-par job.

  4. They first must stop with the woke agenda!
    Then they should be required to raise the test levels of our children before any pay increases!
    We need to stop writing blank checks!

  5. How about some administrative cuts and use that money for the teachers. We are spending record amounts for a declining student body with the second lowest math and reading levels and all the politicians want to do is continue throwing more of our money down the rat hole. They should be so proud of their accomplishments.

  6. Public schools have proven themselves as failures at basic education so lets give them more money so they can try another approach at success. Drag Queen story hour has its benefits according to the experts at public funded Alaska Humanities Forum. The director Kameron Perez Verdia is the son of a famous Dr. who “saved” many children while “practicing” medicine in Utkeagvik. Children need more “lessons” from the “experts”.

  7. WOKE Education, is not Education at all. WOKE Teachers are not Teachers, they are Mis Information Specialist.—-Indoctrinators. Save the Kids, Save Billions of dollars, Vouchers are the way to go. Go Woke, Go Broke–n.

  8. The funding needs to be cut to nothing. That will reflect the value of the product we’ve been getting.

  9. A hundred and twenty UAA employees make over $200,00 a year, and MANY more are paid over $190,00. Why is there any debate over funding? These are ridiculously high salaries. This is an obscene waste of your tax money and nobody in the legislature has the balls to cut a dime. One day very soon, they will run out of someone else’s money.

  10. Education system vs the Bronson Administration. Students can read better than the streets being plowed. Education system vs Governor’s Office. Students can read better than the special funding for political friends. Education system vs the Legislature. A draw neither can add or subtract. The article forgot to mention that the State had an exit exam. It worked. However the court system does not care if Johnny can read or multiply. It only cares about graduates. Lawsuits would fly and funding for education would skyrocket. Because to the courts a diploma is a right, not something to be earned. Same mess we have with inherited wealth. You do not have to achieve wealth. You just wait for daddy and mommy to die.

    • Finally someone who understands it. It’s not about the money. Oh, jealous people don’t want anybody to have anything that they don’t get because of their socialist ideologies. From my observation, teachers work hard at their careers. Parents do little to help in their children’s education. They don’t force them to do homework. They don’t read to them from an early age developing synapses. Once those synapses are not developed they can never regrow. You’re never going to get any smarter. But most people on here who want to complain about money and other things don’t understand these realistic facts. They just want to gripe about stuff all the time. In fact it’s the parents who are at fault or who can be commended on whether or not their student is successful. I’m talking about parents who put their kids on restriction, parents who actually know where their kid is at 7:00 at night. Parents that don’t March into the school threatening and throwing stuff because their kid is an eligible to play basketball this season because of poor grades. When you fix all of that then you’re likely to have higher scores. But it’s not about the money and it’s not about the teachers ability. I’ve known good teachers and poor teachers, and I’ve known good doctors and poor doctors and good carpenters and poor Carpenters. You can’t say that all teachers are all doctors or all Carpenters are bad just because an earthquake knocks down a house or people die. Get real.

      • Greg, there is iron in your words of truth. However, let’s not leave out the fact even the excellent parents have no choice but to send their children to low quality schools that actually sabotage their noble efforts. See the book “Free to Choose” by Milton Friedman. Government bureaucracies do not cultivate excellence. We need a competitive free market for education. We have the private choice to fire our poor doctor or our poor carpenter. Likewise, private schools can actually fire poor teachers. We need vouchers.

        • Wayne Douglas, I am afraid that your invocation of Milton Friedman upon Greg is a lost cause. The Education NEA / Governmental Commie Complex is never going to allow its foot soldiers much less its retired Legions to learn of Friedman or even to entertain a glimpse of freedom.
          Their Plantation requires slaves ( young people) to be help in perpetual servitude and dependence upon them and their system.
          At present you have one option, runaway from their Plantation, save your Grandchildren by placing them in a better Educational setting.

  11. How much public money does it take to buy student motivation? NONE! You can’t buy it. If the student wants to learn all the student needs is a quiet place to study and the materials to do so. If the student doesn’t want to learn then all the money in the world can’t force him or her to. Throwing more and more of our public funds at education just results in more expensive facilities, staff and teachers. A student can receive a quality education without all the extracurriculars at a reasonable cost per student if our education system had that as a goal but it does not…the goal of the people running education is to maximize their own pay and benefits until they can retire to live well on the publicly funded teacher’s retirement system. Go down to your local school and observe all the money wasted on things…and people…that do not go toward providing a good education. Education funding should be cut rather than increased.

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