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The old saying is that you are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Thatâ€™s especially important when it involves student opportunities to succeed.
We have spent much of the session documenting what Base Student Allocation (BSA) increase school districts need to avoid a fourth year of damaging teacher, job counsellor and other cuts. These cuts exceed 600 positions since 2011.
And the Governor has spent the session avoiding those numbers. In one hearing his Commissioner of Education stated he didn’t know what was needed to avoid a fourth year of cuts.
Then, last week, he testified somewhat absurdly that most school districts he spoke to needed very little of an increase to avoid cuts. He said they’d need a roughly $100-$200 per student funding increase to stay even. The problem? Almost no school district says that.
In coming up with funding that at least avoids a fourth year of cuts, and hopefully restores some of the over 600 staff that schools have laid off over the past three years due to no per student funding increases, we could use some truthiness.
The Facts on Education Funding
A recent chart prepared with the help of the Department of Education, and confirmed by them as correct, details the deficits faced by six major school districts. The data from the Department was overlaid with information from a report by the non-partisan Legislative Research Division, and shows the following:
Anchorage, with a $23 million deficit next year, needs roughly a $315 per student increase to avoid cuts next year. They could use the $404 we have proposed to also reverse some prior years’ cuts.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough faces an $8 million deficit, and would need a $310 BSA increase to stay whole, and more to reverse prior damaging cuts.
And so it goes across the state. Juneau would need over a $450 BSA increase to make up for its $4.8 million shortfall. It would take a $262 BSA increase for the Kenai Peninsula Borough to fill a $4.5 million gap. Kodiak needs $464 more per student to make up for a $2.4 million deficit. The Mat-Su Borough would require a BSA increase of $245 to avoid continued layoffs threatened by a $7.3 million shortage. All would need larger increases to also start reversing the past three years of cuts.
We just thought you’d like the truth.
As always, call if we can help.