On April 24, 2019, the Coalition for Education Equity notified the governor that immediate legal action would be taken if $20 million in FY 2019 education funding is not released to school districts by April 30, 2019. Governor Dunleavy proposed a FY 19 Supplemental Budget on January 28, 2019 that cut these funds in the middle of the school year. His administration has since refused to release the funds, despite the fact that the legislature has opted to not pass this cut. The Executive Branch’s refusal to release these funds for timely expenditure by school districts is an illegal impounding of funds and a violation of the Alaska Constitution.
The Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB), the Alaska Council of School Administrators (ACSA), and Coalition for Education Equity of Alaska (CEE) today released the results of a new statewide survey that reveals Alaskans rank investment in K-12 public education as a top priority for government spending. The survey results show a need for a state budget that reflects Alaska’s values and commitment to a quality public education system.
Today Governor Dunleavy unveiled his proposed amended budget, SB 20 which calls for $1.6 billion in cuts from the FY 2020 budget. Public education received a proposed cut of over $330 million, or a little over 24% of the education budget. This equals about 3,100 teacher positions. Included in these cuts is a $269 million reduction in the foundation formula and the elimination of the $30 million in FY 20 one-time education funding that was agreed to last year.
2017-18 was a busy year! Our members worked hard to identify our 2018-19 (and beyond) CEE priorities, to include: adequate investment in education, recruitment and retention of quality educators, statewide access to quality pre-elementary programs, capacity of school districts and DEED, school construction and major maintenance, and community capacity issues. We’ll be building on our successes of 2018, which you can read about here. We also elected new board officers, released a report from our “Research-based Educator System Support” (RESS) pilot study, and completed a post-hoc evaluation of the Moore Settlement early learning, teacher retention, and HSGQE grants.
Coalition for Education Equity executive director, Sarah Sledge traveled to Fairbanks August 10 to join Governor Bill Walker as he signed several key education bills into law. CEE supported all of these bills, and specifically worked to get HB 212 introduced and passed. This bill will provide an additional avenue for our rural and small schools to obtain funding for major maintenance projects, helping us save money on future construction costs and ensuring our children have safe spaces in which to learn.
Coalition for Education Equity has released the final report from the “Research-based Educator System Support” (RESS) pilot study, designed to study and support educator workforce satisfaction and retention. The process and information gleaned from the study proved beneficial to individual school districts, and also provide us with salient recommendations for local and state policy and practices.
Coalition for Education Equity members approved priorities and a work agenda for 2018-2019 at their July board meeting. We will continue our focus on championing equity and adequacy in education across Alaska, using advocacy, policy development, and legal expertise to advance solutions to issues facing our schools.
We have received the end-of-session report from our government relations consultants. The report provides a detailed look at revenue, funding, and specific education legislation we were following or actively working on for passage. We worked with many other education organizations and activists to secure advance and increased funding for education. I am particularly proud of our years of committed work to sustain funding and expand pre-elementary programs statewide, and our continued and successful advocacy for school construction and major maintenance.
We are very pleased to announce this year’s recipients of the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship. Congratulations to Mitchell Luke from St. Mary’s City School District, and Kaylen Jones from Lower Kuskokwim School District! Each will receive $1000 toward their post-secondary education during the 2017-2018 academic year, renewable for up to a total of four years.
The Spike Jorgensen Scholarship 2018 application has been extended to April 6! Please share information about the Spike Jorgensen Scholarship with your school administrators, counselors, teachers, and students. Two winners are selected from member districts for a $1,000 award. Awards can be renewed for up to four years. The current year application can be found on our website at: www.ceequity.org/scholarship. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coalition for Education Equity Executive Director, Sarah Sledge, provided testimony yesterday for House Bill 212's first hearing in the House Education Committee. Coalition for Education Equity worked last year to get this bill introduced, which would allow the REAA/Small Schools construction fund to also be used for major maintenance. Read the full text of Sarah's testimony here:
There is strong potential for adding dollars to the pre-elementary grant amounts to cover bringing in the current Moore pre-K sites. This has a real possibility of getting introduced and passed (in the House). Also, we are working with Barbara Adams and Jerry Covey on a model to better understand teacher workforce concerns, reduce employee turnover, and increase employee satisfaction and performance.
We are seeking to maintain the $2 million for pre-K that Governor Walker put in his budget and increase that amount to $3.2 million in order to continue funding for Moore pre-K sites. We’ve also asked that our Senators support incentivizing district collaboration around administrative and education services, rather than dictating consolidation – there seems to be some openness to this idea.