Surrounded by more than 100 students, teachers, principals, parents and school board members at Mat-Su Central School, Governor Sean Parnell today signed his comprehensive education legislation, House Bill 278, Alaska's Education Opportunity Act into law. The governor's bill creates more educational opportunities for Alaska's children including charter, correspondence, home and residential schools, and vocational training, while also providing a substantial increase in funding to classrooms across the state.
"Alaska's future is brighter today as a result of Alaska's Education Opportunity Act being signed into law," Governor Parnell said. "I commend legislators, as well as the parents, teachers, students and administrators who made their voices heard, and for their commitment to the future of our state. Alaska's children will benefit from more educational opportunities such as career and vocational training, a substantial increase in funding in classrooms, and increased access to charter and residential schools. Without a doubt, our work this past legislative session will ensure Alaska's students are better prepared for life and work."
More Educational Opportunity
Governor Parnell's comprehensive education legislation provides more opportunities by strengthening parental choice in the public school system and increases support for charter, residential, and correspondence schools, and vocational training.
HB 278 repeals the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam and replaces it with a student's choice of the SAT, ACT or WorkKeys assessments. Further, the governor's legislation allows students to test out of courses they have mastered and earn credits to apply toward graduation, as well as the Alaska Performance Scholarship.
Other important provisions include additional digital teaching opportunities, an increase to residential school stipends, which will create more opportunity for our rural students, and a substantial boost to allow more students to participate in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP).
More Funding in Alaska's Classrooms
Alaska's Education Opportunity Act increases the Base Student Allocation (BSA) by $150 million over three years, while also including $150 million in additional funding that can go toward innovation and new educational opportunities. Additionally, Governor Parnell led efforts to better secure teachers' pensions by paying down Alaska's debt. As a result, $2 billion will be infused into the Teachers' Retirement System from the Constitutional Budget Reserve Fund.
Governor Parnell expressed his thanks to Representatives Lynn Gattis, Bill Stoltze and Mike Hawker, Senators Mike Dunleavy and Kevin Meyer along with the many other legislators including Senators Gary Stevens, Donny Olson, John Coghill and Representatives Pete Higgins, Ben Nageak, Dan Saddler, Mark Neuman, and Chris Tuck whose concepts were included in Alaska's Education Opportunity Act.