This year Alaskans said education was their top priority, from early programs to the University of Alaska, and the Legislature agreed, providing more than $34 million in increased funding for K-12 public education and raising appropriations for the University. Education received significantly more funding than in recent years, the largest increase given to any area of the state budget.
The increase in education funding was accomplished through several bills and appropriations.
The Fiscal Year 2002 Operating and Capital Budgets:
- Double the funding for learning opportunity grants to $12.4 million, to fund extra instructional programs to improve student performance on the high school competency exam
- Fully fund projected pupil transportation costs for districts across the state, allowing state K-12 funding to be spent in the classroom
- Add more than $5.6 million in federal funds to subsidize child-care for low-income families, eliminating the wait list, and increases the grant to licensed child care providers from $33 to $40 per child/per month for all children, a $3 million total increase in funding
- Provide $98,700 to ensure that all public libraries are wired and able to connect to the internet
- Increase funding by $8.6 million in federal funds to Special Education and Title I Grant programs that provide direct assistance to local school districts
- Adds $4.6 million in federal funds to reduce class sizes and recruit and retain teachers in our public schools
- Increases total funding for the University of Alaska by $38.4 million, including $11.4 million in general funds, $2 million in Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education funds and $2.9 million in vocation education funding
Senate Bill 174 provides $18.3 million for education, including:
- Increasing the base student allocation in the education foundation funding formula by $70 per student to $4010, providing $14 million in total appropriations that go directly to schools
- Providing property tax relief to growing communities with an additional $3.8 million in funding
- Allowing some smaller communities to count all of the schools in their district toward funding that is provided per school, adding more than $500,000 in funding
House Bill 101 helps Alaska's fledgling charter school movement become an established and successful component of the state's educational system, by providing financial assistance. Funding for the schools totals over $2 million, including an individual one-time-only grant of $500 per student, and allowing charter schools with 150 students or more to receive additional funding under the education foundation funding formula.
House Bill 234 provides the financing for capital projects across the state using tobacco settlement funds. The funding includes $76 million to build or renovate 32 public school facilities in rural Alaska and more than $20 million for seven facilities in the University of Alaska system. House Bill 90 authorizes the state to reimburse 70 percent of the total amount of municipal bonds issued for the construction of three new schools.
The Fiscal Year 2001 Supplemental Budget contains $2.1 million to cover shortfalls in funding for pupil transportation.
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