Senator seeks aid for Bush teachers

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2003

FAIRBANKS - Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski wants millions of dollars in federal money to encourage teachers to take jobs in Alaska's Bush communities.

Murkowski says that half the teachers offered village jobs in Alaska turn down the positions because good housing isn't available.

She introduced legislation last week that would authorize spending up to $50 million a year to build or renovate teacher homes in Native American communities in seven states.

The bill follows up on a promise Murkowski made in her address to the Alaska Legislature earlier this year. She said the bill responds to conditions she saw in a tour of a rural schools with U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige.

"At one rural school, the principal must sleep in his office due to the lack of housing in that village," Murkowski said in a news release. "In the same village, there is not enough housing for each teacher to have their own separate homes. Several teachers share a single house and in many cases they are forced to leave their spouses behind."

School districts would have to put up 20 percent of the cost of selected projects. Grants would go to districts with schools on Indian lands, in Alaska Native villages or on village corporation land.

The seven eligible states are: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont and Delaware.

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