Funding rural schools

Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2003

Per Con Bunde's statement that the Republican Party isn't out to hurt Alaska Native students, I again state that the revised funding formula for rural, predominantly Alaska Native students is at 65 percent of the former 100 percent funding, while at the same time urban, predominantly white schools are at 100 percent of the former 100 percent funding.

At this funding level, rural schools have to cut sports, art and hot lunch programs in order to provide basic education. With programs cut, students and their families move away seeking education. With the falling student counts, schools lose more funding, leading to more program and service cuts and more students and families moving away. Without enough students, schools shut down, forcing families with schoolchildren to move away. Without families, stores close due to lack of income. Without schools and stores, villages die. To top it off, even when the student count comes up to the original numbers, the school funding formula prohibits the funding to even come back up to the meager 65 percent funding they throw us.

This was hashed out behind locked doors as was televised over Alaska Statewide News at the time. Now Alaska says the rural school districts are facing more funding cuts while urban schools stay fat and sassy with their 100 percent funding. It's like the Republicans taking the meat off the bone and giving the meat to the urban school districts while throwing the bone to the rural school districts and watching us fight over and try to eat the bone. I'd suggest the Molly Hootch case be revived and these purveyors of hate and racism be taken to task. Their way of thinking is "Alaska Natives stand in the way of opening the land up for settlement and recreation."

If Bunde or any Republican refutes this than they should invite us all to examine their legislative track record on Alaska Native issues. Maybe open up the records on what transpired with the "public business" that went on behind locked doors.

Curtis Sommer


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