PUBLISHED: 5:48 PM on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Democrats push for more school money
Districts have plans for increased funding
The following cuts, required to meet the governor's proposed funding amount, would not be necessary:
• 2 Special Education aides• $55.7
• 3 Dropout Prevention positions• $172.8
• 1 Montessori position• $53.3
• 4 Teachers• $274.5
• Reduce 3 bus routes• $124.5

Additional investments in education would likely include reinstating or adding:
• 5 Special Education aides• $151.3
• 1 Special Education teacher• $61.8
• 1 English as a Second Language teacher• $61.8

Decreasing class sizes:
• High School and middle school from 32 pupils per teacher to 30
• Grades 3-5 down to 25 pupils per teacher
• Kindergarten-2nd grade from 25 to 20• $978.0

Summer school scholarships for struggling students• $75.0

• Elementary language arts• $130.3
• Vocational Education books• $40.0
• Fine Arts books• $35.0
• Technology books• $25.0

Technology Coordinator• $89.5

Source: Juneau School Board

JUNEAU -- Senate Democrats today joined their House colleagues in proposing that the state give Alaska's school districts the money they need.

Senate Bill 111 proposes over $111 million in new education funding next year. The governor proposed a $62 million increase - significantly less than many school districts need to avoid cuts to classrooms.

Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau, the bill's prime sponsor, said school boards are tired of trying to minimize the pain of budget cuts.

"Last year's band-aid funding was a start, but this gives our schools some vitamins," Senator Elton said.

School districts around Alaska will be able to put these additional dollars into the things they most need to teach their children.

"This would make an investment toward student achievement," said Anchorage School Board chair Tim Steele. "With funding like this, more kids succeed and more kids excel."

The Juneau school district says it will spend the additional money to pay teachers and special education aides that the governor's budget would have forced it to cut. The district will also add new special ed teachers and reduce class sizes from kindergarten to high school. (More detail is attached.)

The Anchorage School District is committed to providing summer school for struggling students, reducing class sizes, meeting federal No Child Left Behind requirements and buying new algebra books and calculators.

The Juneau School District provided an advance look at how it is likely to spend increased education dollars.