Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion
Gov. Mike Dunleavy introduced legislation that would repeal a 2018-2019 appropriation of $20 million to K-12 public education in Alaska. In a letterto peninsula Sens. Gary Stevens and Peter Micciche, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones asked for support in opposing the repeal of the one-time funding.
Of the $20 million, $1.4 million was appropriated and allocated to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, according to documents from the state Department of Education and Early Development.
The school district budgeted the $1.4 million into their General Fund Revenue, which was used to reinstate 11.5 teaching positions.
“We have been employing and paying those folks since the start of the school year in August,” the letter reads.
In his letter, Jones said the district cannot afford to be forced to spend an addition $1.4 million in fund balance.
Last year, the Legislature passed a $20 million appropriation to be distributed among Alaska’s school districts during the current fiscal year. Dunleavy’s proposal essentially nixes the $20 million appropriation approved by legislators when the budget passed.
The $20 million was the first budget increase in years. It was divided among Alaska’s 53 school districts and Mt. Edgecumbe school in Sitka.
According to a document from the Office of Budget and Management, the proposed education cut is intended to provide money to underfunded programs at other agencies.
“The additional funding created a situation in which education was funded beyond the statutorily required amount while other programs were underfunded. This reduction is required to meet other obligations of the state,” the document states.
On Monday, the governor proposed two supplemental budget bills. Senate Bill 39, the bill that includes a $20 million cut to education, would provide an increase in funds to the Department of Corrections, the Alaska State Troopers and the Office of Information Technology.
Both supplemental budget bills are in the Senate Finance Committee.
The AP contributed to this report.