Dunleavy, a Republican who is running for office this year, told the Daily News on Friday that he is running for office this year hoping to focus on day-to-day issues that affect Alaskans, such as lowering the cost of energy, heat and food and crime reduction. , “especially domestic violence and sexual assault”.
“We want to create as many opportunities as possible in Alaska for our children to choose to stay here and have good paying jobs,” Dunleavy said. “You know, use our resources to help our citizens in terms of economic opportunities.”
Dunleavy also emphasized education. A former teacher and school administrator, he said he wanted to “continue to hopefully make significant progress in some of our educational issues, namely reading and math”, a reference to his signature of the Alaska Reads Act earlier this month.
This bill, which Dunleavy and Democratic Sen. Tom Begich have both supported, aims to improve Alaskan reading test scores for kindergarten through third graders with a reading screening tool. the state, reading intervention services and individual reading improvement plans. The bill also included a $30 increase to the base student allowance of $5,930, the per-child figure used to calculate state funding for local school districts each year.
The $30 BSA increase would guarantee the Ketchikan School District an additional $150,000 over the next school year, assuming enrollment increases slightly. District officials do not know if this additional funding will cover the costs of the program for the district.
What the district needs most, district administrators have explained in recent months, is a more substantial increase in BSA that would help the district keep up with long-term growth in its costs, rather than one-time additional infusions. . (The BSA has not seen a significant increase in several years.) To that end, in March, the Ketchikan School Board and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly signed a joint resolution noting “the failure to increase the basic student allowance to be a failure of the state to fulfill its constitutional obligation” and urging the state to “significantly increase the basic student allowance to adequately fund the education of all Alaska students and to support districts with stable and predictable long-term funding.”
When asked if he would support such a BSA increase, Dunleavy pointed to the one-time funding of $57 million for additional education in next year’s state budget that will accrue to the school district. of Ketchikan approximately $1 million over the next fiscal year, as well as funding that districts received from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020. He also noted that the legislature this year increased an existing 10% limit on carryover funds for school districts.
“And so, we think school districts need help this year, especially with energy costs, energy prices,” he said. “We’ll have that discussion again next year as we come back to it, (for) what level of funding is appropriate. There’s no question about that.”
“School districts and schools need some funding to make sure they work. And we’ll provide it. We’ll make sure that happens,” he later added. “We also need to continue the discussion about what outcomes we want (on) things like reading and math. That’s also important. So I think we’ll be there for the resources and hopefully we can get some results that across the board, not just in some schools, but in all areas, it’s starting to move more in the direction of some of the top performing states in the country.”
Additional coverage of Dunleavy’s interview will appear in a future edition of the Daily News.