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In capital budget, millions for Juneau infrastructure but nothing for schools

Posted: April 9, 2014 - 12:04am

Each Alaska senator has an approximate limit on capital budget spending for projects in his or her district — how they spend it is up to them.

Anchorage schools are getting nearly $4.9 million in additional funding from the capital budget. Fairbanks has just over $150,000 headed its way.

Juneau schools aren’t so lucky. There’s nothing in the capital budget for them.

“We can only do so much,” said Sen. Dennis Egan, D-Juneau. “Every project is a need, I don’t argue with that, it’s just trying to prioritize some of this stuff.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the co-chairs of Senate Finance about what projects get in,” he added.

In the draft capital budget, Juneau will receive $93.6 million, $8.04 million more than the governor initially proposed.

The $93.6 million includes $35 million for the Juneau Access project, but not $37.5 million for the State Library, Archive and Museum project. It’s considered a statewide effort.

Of the approximately $8 million added by legislators to the governor’s proposed capital budget, $2 million will pay for improvements to the Last Chance Basin — which supplies Juneau’s drinking water — and the Salmon Creek Water Treatment facility. Another $4.3 million will go to improvements at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Juneau Republican Rep. Cathy Muñoz said the delegation — herself, Egan and Rep. Sam Kito III, D-Juneau — met in early March to prioritize requests from their districts, which include Skagway, Petersburg and Gustavus as well as Juneau.

“When we get together we don’t take up what the governor has already put into the budget,” Muñoz said. “We review all of the projects that are not in the governor’s budget and then rank those.”

She added that securing the $2 million for water projects was one of Juneau’s top priorities.

Jesse Kiehl, City and Borough Assemblyman and legislative staff to Egan, said their office received about $165 million in capital project requests.

The Juneau School District sent only two requests: $60,000 for new video conferencing equipment and $580,000 for a new elementary language arts curriculum. Neither request was granted.

Muñoz told the Empire that if the JSD had submitted multiple smaller requests for individual need, they probably would have secured some extra funding from the state.

In comparison, the Anchorage School District had 58 individual funding requests included in the capital budget for a total of nearly $4.9 million.

Tok’s school district got $48,500, $77,000 went to the Mat-Su district and the Copper River School District got $275,000 in the budget.

The figures revealed Monday are not final and may change before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

That deadline is in 11 days.

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Clay Good
Clay Good 04/09/14 - 06:52 am
Road - 35,000,000 vs Schools - 0

It doesn't take a "Road" scholar to question legislative priorities.

At least schools aren't a dangerous road to a certain dead end.

Brad Fluetsch
Brad Fluetsch 04/09/14 - 07:19 am
at over $19,000 per child

Clay, how much is enough to educate the children? We are spending a small fortune now and the school district is failing a significant percentage of our students.

No, schools are a certain dead end for many students and that makes for dangerous situations in the future.

. Shannara
. Shannara 04/09/14 - 07:35 am
It's pretty bad state we have

It's pretty bad state we have here in Juneau.

Teachers are currently taking half of each paycheck to pay for classroom necessities. (At least in Elementary). This is also on top of parents paying for other classroom necessities. A properly funded classroom would not require this.

You know the schools are screwed up since they refused to keep ANY student records. You can tell this if your kid comes home with a "please help us update our records", and you see almost all the data missing or wrong ... every single year ...

Dot Wilson
Dot Wilson 04/09/14 - 08:19 am
Its isn't lack of fund

It is not lack of funds, but lack of fund management. Many teachers buy items for their classroom because they want to, not because they won't have viable alternative items if they don't purchase particular ones. Those selected items are the teacher's signature and makes the teacher's job more interesting. They are not a requirement. As in most businesses (and schools are a business) the majority of income goes to salaries and benefits and much of that is for Administrative employees; not for classroom needs. Priorities, priorities! Teacher poor-mouth all the time, but if you compare salaries number of days teachers are required to be in the classroom in a year to other careers with comparable education, teachers are WAY ahead. No matter what your job, if you are paid for 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, a job with responsibility usually requires off-the-clock work and it is not unusual for professionals to purchase some of their own equipment. When computers were getting popular many employees (who could afford them) purchased computers that then took to work to write letters, make spreadsheets, run analyses and make themselves more efficient and enjoy their job more. Now many companies include cell iPhones or Androids as part of a new manager's equipment, but if they don't, the employee has a personal phone that the company does not pay for but they use the phone at times for business purposes.

I do nota want to take anything away from the devoted teachers who work to design activities and help individual students out of class time. But those teachers are a small percentage. New teachers go into the classroom and are so overwhelmed by the restrictive rules and regulations it is sometimes hard to relate to children. They work in surivial mode most of the time for fear of breaking a rule that will ruin their lives and their careers. First grade teachers in some schools are not allowed to give a first grader a hug. Now really!! All little kids need hugs. There are right and wrong hugs I understand, but some children need hugs because they receive so few at home.

The school system might need to look at themselves and how they manage the schools. After a time there is a limit to how much money we can keep putting into a hole that is less and less successful.

Special Educators is the new career for teachers. "Give me 3 or 4 kids two or 3 times a week so I don't have to deal with a classroom of children." It has been years since I met a new school teacher (education student) who wanted to teach in a classroom.

Success in the Juneau school district is not dependent entirely on funds.

John Tracker
John Tracker 04/09/14 - 10:07 am
The truth about The Road.

The truth about The Road.
The road connecting Juneau to the rest of the continent is more about using public money to help develop private mines than it is for better, cheaper and safer access. I think most people would agree that a far better investment for Alaska would be directing these thirty-five million dollars towards educating Alaska's kids, because they need the help right NOW.

Keep this in mind on Election Day. You can vote for someone who will direct public money adequately to fund our children's education or you can vote for someone who will direct public money to fund new roads to privately held corporations.

How do you want our public money spent? The Public's money should be used to enrich our children not privately held corporations.

As Dennis Egan said "we can only do so much."

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