On Monday, at a moving meeting, high school students and school representatives from across the state spoke passionately about the importance of teachers during a Q & A session. answers with senators.
"It does not take money; it brings people, "said Kevin Lubin, a student from Anchorage, to a crowd of about 80 people. "It's not a budget, not an endorsement – it's student life."
While students testified with emotion by invoking the cause of education to senators and representatives at the meeting, some school board representatives played on the numbers, especially on the high cost of the school. insurance and retirement of teachers throughout the state.
Pete Hoepfner, former president of the Alaska School Board Association, explained how the Cordova school district was facing budget challenges.
"It is largely money," he said. "Health insurance recently caught my eye. Over the past four years, we have seen a huge increase: 16% of our total budget is spent on health insurance. "
The Cordova school district costs $ 369,000 a year to pay for health insurance, he said. Per student, this represents $ 1,130. He said that money was taken out of the classroom. He also mentioned the consequences of the cuts made in the ferry system on the Cordova school district, as schools must then send students by plane or eliminate education services.
"I know that there is no money out there, but these problems that will arise will start hurting our school districts," he said. "We are at a point where we are going to start getting very bad."
Some school districts said they were using a group of municipal workers to cut insurance costs, but Hoepfner said he hoped the state could do something to fix the problem unilaterally.
Audience members also discussed the proposed $ 20 million reduction to school districts in the Governor's proposed supplementary budget, rising utility costs for school buildings, lack of Internet bandwidth, the certifications required for people teaching the Native languages of Alaska and the question of whether the formula used was used. School budgets are up to date and benefit all schools in Alaska, even in rural areas.
Forrest Davis, a student in Juneau, asked legislators why the school's budgeting formula had not been revised for almost 20 years. Senator Tom Begich of D-Anchorage said the formula has withstood the test of time quite well, according to an audit two years ago that cost a quarter of a million dollars to the company. 39; State.
"We want to base ourselves (on the formula) on research and expert testimony," said Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, adding that it might be best to revisit the formula one. once the session is over.
The meeting lasted only one hour, but lawmakers encouraged everyone present to contact them personally to elaborate.
"We are doing everything we can to use this money," said Aleisha Mollen, Chair of the Wrangell School District Council. "When we come to you, I want you to know that we are doing everything we can."
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