Alaska Ballot Initiative on School Funding Successful


Last Updated: November 26, 2010
 

This article appeared in the November 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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Almost $400 million in education bonds, the largest education bond initiative in the history of the state, were approved by Alaska voters this month. The bonds include funding for several university projects and for new rural school buildings in three communities serving Alaska Native students. Schools in Kipnuk, Alakanuk and Kwigillingok have long been at the top of the Department of Education’s maintenance list; all three were serving at least double the number of students they were built for and had many other maintenance needs.

The bond measure was supported by a variety of unions, local chambers of commerce, and public officials.

In providing financing for the three new rural schools, the bond funding will address critical building needs in those communities, but it will not resolve the long-running school facilities lawsuit, Kasayulie vs. State of Alaska.

In 1999 and 2001, plaintiffs in Kasayulie won the lawsuit claiming that the state did not provide funding for rural school facilities commensurate with that provided for urban schools. But a final order has not yet been written because the parties are waiting for valuation of a land trust that was in dispute in the case.

As reported in RSFN earlier this year (http://www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=2418), local leaders and students had been lobbying the legislature and Governor Sean Parnell for resolution to the facility funding lawsuit. In response, Parnell had promised action to resolve the case and legislators voted to put the bond question on the ballot. Although various appropriations have been made to Alaska’s rural schools for construction and maintenance, no systemic changes have been made.

Read more:

Background on the funding proposition:

Background on the funding lawsuit:

Local coverage on the election results:

Read more from the November 2010 Rural Policy Matters.