ANCHORAGE — A state lawmaker is proposing an increase to the minimum number of students required to make schools eligible for state funding.
KTUU-TV reported that Alaska schools must have at least 10 students enrolled in order to receive funding from the state government. Wasilla State Rep. Lynn Gattis is looking to have that number raised so the state can save money.
“You know I’m looking at the bigger picture and I’m not stuck on 20 let’s put it that way,” Gattis said. “The bigger conversation is, we have small areas that don’t have an economy and the school is truly the thing that subsidizes their small economy.”
The state currently allocates about $5,000 per student to schools.
Gattis’ proposal has been met with concern in Alaska’s rural areas, where student enrollment is much lower and schools rely more on state funding.
“These are very small villages, and they are passionate about their heritage, and their culture, and when we close a school in a small rural village not only is education impacted but the village is impacted as well,” said Kuspuk School District superintendent Sue Johnson.
Meghan Richmond, a teacher in Twin Hills, said increasing the requirement could force more students into homeschooling, which could create problems for children who don’t have access to the Internet.
“The difficulty with online options is our Internet out in the village isn’t very reliable, it’s also very expensive. The home internet is not up to standard for homeschooling purposes,” Redmond said.