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It seems like just a few days ago that school districts across the state were in a crisis mode, facing serious teacher cuts, increased class sizes and elimination of many programs that are valuable to K-12 education. This situation generated a huge protest from parents across Alaska. In March, the Legislature was in a rush to provide over $80 million in increased education funding. This funding would cover the current budget gaps for most districts and for at least the coming fiscal year meet the retirement plan shortfalls in the TRS/PERS systems. A series of political snarls prevented the funding from being approved and at present, the money rests in a House and Senate conference committee concerning SB 283.
Unfortunately, the effort to move forward on this critical funding is being stalled by partisan political maneuvering. With less than three weeks left in the session, education funding will likely be a part of an adjournment package. But, in fact, the House and Senate are in disagreement over less than $3 million, out of over $800 million in K-12 funding. It is time to reach a compromise and send the education funding package on to the governor's desk. Each day of delay adds to the stress of each teacher and school district in the state. I would urge each parent of a public school child to contact your representative or senator and give them a simple message - it's time to act on additional funding for public schools.