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SB 140: When Will Alaska Start Supporting Education?

On March 15th, 2024, Governor Dunleavy vetoed Senate Bill 140. SB 140 was an act that would substantially raise the base student allocation (BSA) by $680. The BSA is the mechanism used for funding schools in Alaska and has not been raised meaningfully since 2017. The bill also ensured parity of homeschool programs with brick-and-mortar schools, supported the development of new and existing charter schools, provided needed resources for transportation to and from schools, directed financial resources into classrooms to support teachers, infused resources supporting the Alaska Reads Act (which ensures every child knows to read by 3rd grade), and increased broadband access for rural schools.

After the bill failed to pass, there was then a motion in the Senate to override the veto. The bill needed a 2/3rds majority vote to override the veto - 40 votes. The veto was extremely close to being overridden, but was just one vote short, with the vote being 39-20. Tok/Northway's representative Mike Cronk voted "no" on the bill, changing his initial vote of "yes" to push the bill through in February.

In a meeting hosted by the AGSD school board Representative Mike Cronk stated, "My job as your legislator is to make sure that the funding is secure for our schools not insecure, and there is not 45 votes to override the governor's veto when it comes to a budget."

In protest of the bill's failure to pass, the Executive Board of the Alaska Association of Student Government (AASG) organized a statewide walkout. The walkout took place on April 4th at 11:00 A.M. and lasted for forty minutes in representation of the forty legislatures that failed to pass the bill. They wanted to let Alaska's legislation know that students are aware of the fact that our schools have been flat-funded for far too long and that students care about their educations. Over two dozen schools participated in the walkout all over Alaska, including Tok School.

Student Rachel Ames said, "It went really well. There were a lot more people who actually walked out and participated than I expected. I think It's important because we are showing everyone that we do care, we have voices, and we want all schools across Alaska to be funded, including schools like Eilson that are getting shut down."

Student Shania Issac said, "I think it turned out great since we got noticed and posted on AASG's and the Alaska Student Walkouts' Instagram. It's important because we are supporting other schools and supporting Alaska funding our education."

Students across the state are hopeful that our legislators will listen to the students' voices and resolve the issue of underfunded schools across Alaska.

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