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The impacts of Governor Dunleavy's SB 140 veto and next steps for ASD

March 18, 2024: After much promise and hope of a needed investment in public education, the legislature failed to override Governor Dunleavy’s veto of Senate Bill 140. The failure to override the governor’s veto creates uncertainty for the many districts across the state that are in dire need of an increase to the Base Student Allocation to combat years of flat funding and unprecedented inflation. We have not lost hope yet, as ASD will advocate to include additional funding in the state’s budget this session. In the absence of funding from the State, ASD will be faced with considering additional budget reductions that could negatively impact our students' education. We encourage you to voice your support for investing in public education to your elected officials.


March 15, 2024: The Alaska State Legislature came through for our students, staff, and families with the historic bipartisan approval of Senate Bill 140 (SB 140). This type of collaborative leadership at the beginning of the legislative session speaks to their dedication to public education. We can’t thank them enough for their support. 

We are deeply disappointed and gravely concerned about Governor Dunleavy’s decision last night to veto SB 140. The Governor’s veto could not come at a worse time, not only for the Anchorage School District (ASD), but for all school districts across Alaska. The ASD FY 2025 budget was developed to keep class sizes stable and maintain beloved student programs. Through SB 140, the Legislature made a good faith effort to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to provide for and fund a great public education system. The Governor’s rejection of SB 140, a bill which passed with 93% approval of the Legislature, undermines a bipartisan effort to make a historic investment in our children’s education. 

The repercussions of the Governor’s veto are dire and far-reaching. By depriving public schools of essential financial resources, he has exacerbated existing challenges that will push the state of our education system to the brink. ASD alone has more than 600 vacancies, spanning key functions such as special education staff, paraprofessionals, and classroom teachers. Vetoing SB 140 will do nothing to help reverse this alarming trend. Undoubtedly we will see further attrition of educators, compounding the shortage of qualified teaching professionals and compromising the quality of instruction for our students.

The adverse effects of the Governor’s veto extend beyond the immediate fiscal concerns and will impede the long-term prosperity and development of Alaska's youth. Without adequate funding, schools will be unable to invest in crucial resources, programs, and initiatives essential for nurturing the academic, social, and emotional growth of students, thus hindering their ability to thrive in an increasingly competitive global landscape.

For ASD, the Governor’s decision means that our community could be faced with additional reductions that negatively impact the education of nearly 40% of Alaska’s public school students. In an already tenuous environment for public education in Alaska, the uncertainty and chaos this veto will have on districts’ progress to improve student outcomes cannot be understated. 

Senate Bill 140 is a landmark piece of legislation that holds the promise of significantly bolstering public school funding across the state, something that has not occurred since 2017. The $680 increase, as passed in SB 140, to the Base Student Allocation (BSA) for the upcoming school year would provide much-needed relief to ASD. After years of record inflation, and corresponding flat funding by the state, the District’s structural budget deficit has grown progressively larger. For FY 25, ASD is currently grappling with a budget deficit nearing $100 million. 

To balance our budget in recent years, we have exhausted nearly all of the District’s emergency savings, increased class sizes, and eliminated teaching positions. The $680 BSA increase will inject approximately $50 million into our schools, offering a lifeline to preserve vital positions and programs essential for the educational well-being of our students. With the veto of this critical funding, Governor Dunleavy has jeopardized the academic progress and future prospects of Alaska's youth. 

We will continue to work with our elected leaders to properly and fairly fund public education. We stand ready to help find the common ground for common sense solutions.

We encourage our community to make their voices heard to their state representatives to override the Governor’s veto. The future of our students and staff hangs in the balance.   

Sincerely,

Margo Bellamy                       Dr. Jharrett Bryantt

President                               Superintendent

Anchorage School Board         Anchorage School District