Lawmakers look at earlier deadline for education budget

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Last year, the Anchorage School District didn't know its budget for the next school year until after classes had finished for the summer.

Pink slips had to be sent to teachers, largely prompted by the lack of a state budget being passed before the end of the school year.

But now, there's action by lawmakers in Juneau that could decrease stress levels in the school districts, and for lawmakers who are under pressure to get work done faster.

S.B. 131 would require an education budget to be separate from the operating budget and to pass early, by April 1. It was pre-filed by Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak.

Already, the Anchorage School District expects a budget shortfall of more than $13 million, which is based on the governor's proposed budget.

"Our goal is to continue our course offerings and be as vast as we can for our students so they can have comprehensive programs," Superintendent Deena Bishop of ASD said, "but there's going to be a time that the fulcrum isn't going to be balanced. We can't continue to always do what we've always done when we don't have the resources."

Another education proposal is Homer Rep. Paul Seaton's H.B. 287, which is co-sponsored by everyone in the House majority and nobody in the minority.

[Separate education budget debated in Juneau Tuesday]

H.B. 287 pays for education in 2019 by taking $1.2 billion from the constitutional budget reserve, but that would require a three-fourths vote to pass.

In 2017, the operating budget wasn't passed by the legislature until June 22.

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