Anchorage high school students rally for more funding per student

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - EDITORS NOTE: In an earlier report, Republican Senator Kevin Meyer was unintentionally misquoted as saying there are $2 billion in cuts and efficiencies to be had, when in reality Senator Meyer said there aren't $2 billion in cut and efficiencies.

On Saturday, the University Of Alaska Anchorage's Rasmuson Hall was filled with constituents and members of the Anchorage Caucus, allowing any resident of the city to meet with members from the state house and senate.

"I think it was a great turnout especially with people fighting the weather," said Republican Sen. Kevin Meyer of Anchorage.

Outside of the building, teens from the Anchorage School District – many not even old enough to vote – made sure that those entering through the front doors knew what they believe should be lawmaker’s top priority when they head back to Juneau.

"Today we're here in support of House Bill 339, and that is an increase into the Base Student Allocation," said Daniel Jeoun, a Junior attending Anchorage South High School.

The bill would increase Base Student Allocation funding from $5,930 to $6,030. But public education in Alaska is roughly $25 million less today than compared to 2015, according to the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division. Jeoun says that extra $100 could help address the ASD's $13 million worth of debt and possibly limit or erase a need for the district to cut educators or programs to make financial ends meet. According to Jeoun, he would like to see those extra dollars not come from increases in taxes but Alaska Permanent Fund Divided.

"The senate’s positions always been that before we go there and before we talk about reducing someone's dividend let’s make sure our government is running as efficiently as possible but the reality is there aren't still $2 billion in cuts and efficiencies to be had the earnings have to come into discussion," Republican Senator Kevin Meyer of Anchorage.

Since 2015 school districts in Alaska no longer receive reimbursements of any kind from the state when a voter approved education bond is passed. That means that most, if not all of the bond is funded solely through local taxes. Today schools are financed from the state through flat funding which some don't believe does enough to cover additional economical inflation costs.

"Utility costs go up, health insurance costs go up, and so the electric company and the gas company get paid and the insurance companies get paid and teachers are cut because when you're only getting the same amount of money and you've got to pay more for certain parts of your budget then the place that suffers is staff," said Democratic Representative Harriet Drummond of Anchorage.

However her counterpart in the Senate, Republican Senator Kevin Meyer, says that low inflation rates don't impact the flat funded public schools in a negative way. And while he's not in supportive of the BSA being raised he wants to make clear that he doesn't want to see the dollar amounts go down.

Roughly 90 percent of the Anchorage School District's dollars go toward funding educators. The remaining finances go toward programs, utilities, and other items.

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