Education Funding Still in Limbo

There’s technically less than 36 hours left in the Legislative Session, but education funding remains unresolved.

This morning the Senate Finance Committee delayed action on its version of the omnibus education bill (Committee Substitute for HB 278) and announced it would take it up this afternoon. Typically the Committee meets at 1:3o PM, but nothing is predictable or typical at the end of session except delay-rush-delay-rush-pause-rush-tension-votes-debate-votes-debate-votes …. so we really don’t know when the bill will be considered.  Co-Chair Meyer announced changes were being made to the education bill, but what these changes look like or mean for public schools is unknown.

We DO know there’s a dynamic statewide team DOING THE WORK in the Capitol, including members of Great Alaska Schools Anchorage who are putting in 12 hour days, monitoring the action and advocating at every opportunity !  There’s a network of parents, community members, policy makers, teacher 2,000 strong !  Keep charging everyone – It’s making a difference  !

To track events in the Capitol:

* 1:30 PM today is a good time to show up in Senate Finance (for those in Juneau) – citizens sporting Great Alaska Schools buttons & stickers there, and in the Capitol Halls is a good thing, anytime today.

* Facebook – check for announcements on Great Alaska Schools Anchorage and Great Alaska Schools pages.

* Web – Go to http://www.legis.state.ak.us (legislative web site) for live coverage (and archives) of committee meetings & events – click on “Live Meetings @ AKL.tv” or in lower right hand corner “Gavel to Gavel” to monitor events in the Capitol

Meanwhile, if you’ve not yet emailed or called Legislators’ offices, there’s no time to waste! (see below)  Go for it! 

 

Smoke & Mirrors in the Capitol

Today Senate Finance unveiled its omnibus education package.  The results are in — A ZERO, yes ZERO increase to the BSA. 

The bill is like a Christmas tree with gifts for everyone except school districts who hope to retain teachers and keep classroom size from growing ever larger.

Action Alert –

If you are in Juneau SHOW UP in Senate Finance at 9 AM, tomorrow, Saturday April 19, 2014

(Capitol Building, 5th floor, Mountain side of building) !  Bring a friend, or two or three.  It’s valuable to have citizen presence. No testimony. just warm bodies

 

If you are outside Juneau or can’t attend, call or email Senate leadership, Finance Committee members and key House leaders (see below). 

The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn by Sunday, April 20 (Easter) — so there’s no time to waste!

In brief: HB 278 – the omnibus education bill – includes a BSA increase of $0.  That’s right, zero.  The bill includes $25 million for various programs including vocational education. (While useful, this is not money to the classrooms for teachers). In addition, the Senate included in its version of the operating budget (a separate bill) $75 million in one-time funds outside the BSA, of which $25 million is carry forward from the current year.  This effectively leaves $50 million in new money for districts to direct towards classrooms through the local budget process.  This is the equivalent of a $200 increase to the BSA, far short of the $400 needed. (as clear as a smoke filled room – right?!)

The Legislature authorizes this $50 million for each of the next three years, but years two and three are advisory only and subject to further approval by the next Legislature.

In short, we are looking at a $200-$0-$0 equivalent of one-time funding outside the BSA. This will not keep classroom teachers, it is less even than the Governor’s original bill, and it is far less than the 400-$125-$125 the committee’s constituents have told them is needed.

CALL SENATE LEADERSHIP, FINANCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS & KEY HOUSE LEADERS

MESSAGE: PUT FUNDS BACK IN THE BSA AND INCREASE THE AMOUNT TO $400-$125-$125.

Senate Leadership

Senator.Charlie.Huggins@akleg.gov (President) 907-465-3878

Senator.John.Coghill@akleg.gov (Majority Leader)907-465-3719

Senator.Lesil.McGuire@akleg.gov (Rules Committee Chair)907-465-2995

House Leadership

Representative.Mike.Chenault@akleg.gov (Speaker)907-465-3779

Representative.Lance.Pruitt@akleg.gov (Majority Leader)907-465-3438

Representative.Craig.Johnson@akleg.gov (Rules Comm. Chair)907-465-4993

Senate Finance Committee

Senator.Pete.Kelly@akleg.gov (Co-Chair)907-465-3709

Senator.Kevin.Meyer@akleg.gov (Co-Chair)907-465-4945

Senator.Anna.Fairclough@akleg.gov (Vice Chair)907-465-3777

Senator.Mike.Dunleavy@akleg.gov 907-465-6600

Senator.Click.Bishop@akleg.gov 907-465-2327

Senator.Donald.Olson@akleg.gov 907-465-3707

Senator.Lyman.Hoffman@akleg.gov 907-465-4453

7 days to go — why the hype about the BSA?

Great Alaska Schools message to Legislators: Increase the BSA (Base Student Allocation) by $400 this year and $125 for each of the next 2 years

Q: Why is the BSA so important?

A:  The BSA is the starting point for calculating how much each school district receives in state funding (through the foundation formula). It directly impacts what is  possible in classrooms across the state !

The BSA offers predictability and stability in funding since it is set in statute and carries forward into future years. Schools can actually plan ahead !

Increasing the BSA “raises all boats” increasing funding proportionately for all school districts. It’s equitable !

Q: What can I do?

A:  Email your legislators, Senate Finance Members and Senate Leadership (see below).

p.s. Knowledge is power – learn more about how the foundation formula works by reading school funding 101

(more information is on our References and Resources tab above)

Link

Take Action Now!

Email the Senate Finance Committee, Senate Leadership AND your own Senator (Click here to find out who that is!)

Senate Finance Committee:

Senator.Pete.Kelly@akleg.gov
Senator.Kevin.Meyer@akleg.gov
Senator.Anna.Fairclough@akleg.gov
Senator.Mike.Dunleavy@akleg.gov
Senator.Click.Bishop@akleg.gov
Senator.Donny.Olson@akleg.gov
Senator.Lyman.Hoffman@akleg.gov
Senator.Charlie.Huggins@akleg.gov
Senator.John.Coghill@akleg.gov
Senator.Hollis.French@akleg.gov

Message them to:

* Increase the BSA by $400  (Note – adding funds to the BSA is the best means of providing equitable funding to all schools in the state). 

* Schedule increases to the BSA over the next two years to provide stability going forward – $125 and $125

Sign Our Petition

Join hundreds of other Alaska Parents asking for a $400 increase to the BSA and sign here!

Our Latest Video

Parents can do a lot for our schools but we can’t do it all!  Please watch this video then share the link with your friends and family and ask them to ACT NOW!

The Parent Parade from ATMI on Vimeo.

 

Tag!  It’s the Senate’s turn to weigh in on education funding

Monday, after approximately 6 hours of floor debate the House passed its version of the Governor’s omnibus education bill and moved it onto the Senate. It now sits in Senate Finance, with a public hearing scheduled for tomorrow, April 10 at 9 AM (Capitol Building, Room 532 in Juneau).

Highlights of the bill being considered:

School funding Increases the Base Student Allocation (BSA – think, per student funding) by $185 (cost = $45.8 million) and adds $30 million to schools outside the foundation formula (this roughly equates to $121 increase to the BSA, however this is one time funding and does not roll forward for future years).  This funding level does NOT meet the needs of Alaska’s schools.

Teachers: establishes two teacher tenure standards – 3 years for teachers in communities under 5500 population (3 years is current standard), and 5 years for teachers in larger communities. The bill also requires the Dept. of Administration to develop a proposal to implement a statewide salary and benefits schedule for teachers.

Private School funding: Authorizes tax credits for a variety of entities/programs including tax credits for donations to private schools.

The bill also makes changes to charter school laws, requires students be allowed to test-out of courses, changes the state’s school performance ranking system, and more.  See sectional analysis under “references and resources” tab.

New Feature Coming Soon!

A new section is in the works that will feature key legislative votes on school funding. Check out how legislators vote.  They expect accountability.  So do we.

 

 

Friday, April 4 at Noon

Let’s Make Sure Our Schools

Get Our Share

of the Budget Reserve’s Pie

Friday, April 4 at Noon

Capitol Steps – STOP THE CUTS IN OUR SCHOOLS!

 pie

Let’s have some fun – Bring a sign if you want, Buy or Bake a pie, or bring your voice!! We will share with legislators!

Our Ask: Make our schools whole with a $400 raise in the BSA and $125 each year for two years after.

How Much of the Reserves is this? ½ of 1% of the budget reserves pie ($17.1 Billion)For more information go to greatalaskaschools.org or call 907-884-2299

By asjohns1
Link

You Are Invited!

Anchorage this weekend: Great Alaska Schools Anchorage is having a “Rally for our Schools” on the  Z.J. Loussac Library lawn, 3600 Denali  (dress warmly), this Saturday, March 29 from 12-1 pm.   Share this Rally Flyer with your friends!

By asjohns1
Link

Watch this video produced by Anchorage parents and put together by Anchorage teens to highlight this issue!

Cuts to Great Anchorage Schools from ATMI on Vimeo.

 

No matter where you live in Alaska, please email the entire House Finance Committee which is considering a BSA increase RIGHT NOW. Tell them you support a $400 increase and future inflation proofing for the BSA!   Here are some tips on emailing these folks!

Representative.Alan.Austerman@akleg.gov,
RepresentativeBill.Stoltze@akleg.gov,
Representative.Mark.Neuman@akleg.gov,
Representative.Mia.Costello@akleg.gov,
Representative.Bryce.Edgmon@akleg.gov,
Representative.Lindsey.Holmes@akleg.gov,
Representative.Cathy.Munoz@akleg.gov,
Representative.Steve.Thompson@akleg.gov,
Representative.Tammie.Wilson@akleg.gov,
Representative.Les.Gara@akleg.gov,
Representative.David.Guttenberg@akleg.gov

3 Things You Can Do in 3 Minutes

  1. Join hundreds of others and sign our petition!
  2. Stay informed! Add yourself to our mailing list.
  3. Find out if your Anchorage representatives are The Key 12 needed to support a BSA increase!