We all want the best education possible for our kids and our neighbors’ kids. And we are all hearing the usual noise: “kids not cuts”, “stop cutting education”, and “we will have to fire teachers”. But what has Alaska really spent on K12 education and how does that compare to Alaska’s inflation? That is the real question. And it appears as if those supporting more funding on K12 education are ignorant of the facts regarding its funding.
In 2008 the State of Alaska spent $1,019,476,000 (Formula & Non-Formula) on K12. (And this is ONLY unrestricted general fund monies). Formula funding is that money which is calculated on a complex Foundation Formula in which a school district takes the average daily membership (number of students), runs it through the formula and gets an “adjusted average daily membership”. For example, the Anchorage School District has a student count of 47,680 for school year 2016-17. After this student count is run through the Foundation Formula this number rises to an astronomical 74,479 students. Here are the various factors in the Foundation Formula that increase the student count: school size, hold harmless, district cost factor, special needs factor (1.2), career/tech ed factor (1.015), special ed intensive needs (13.00), and district correspondence.
Similarly, for the MatSu School District the Average Daily Membership is 18,809 for this past school year and the Adjusted ADM is 33,193. You can find all these student count numbers here. Check page 2.
Once one has calculated the Adjusted Average Daily Membership (student count), one multiplies that times the Base Student Allocation which is $5,930 for this fiscal year.
But this is not all the funding that school districts receive from the state. School districts also receive another $16 per student Adjusted ADM (page 5) as part of the Quality Schools Initiative. That means that the Anchorage School District gets another $1,191,678. One must also include transportation funding which is shown below by school district. Note that the total transportation funding for Alaska schools is $72,619,800 for school year 2017. The Anchorage School District received more than $20 Million from the state for student transportation. Here is a list of other schools’ transportation funding by the state:
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But there is even more funding for public education to include the PERS/TRS retirement monies that the state funds. For FY2016 there was $130.1 million for TRS (teachers retirement fund) and $19.03 million for PERS. Then add in another $232 million of federal (taxpayer) money. So the grand total is nearly $1.9 Billion for Alaska K12 education.
If one looks at the graph below, one will see that K12 funding (unrestricted general funds only) has gone from $1,019,476,000 in 2008 to $1,327,878,000 in 2016. That is a 30% increase in K12 funding during that same time frame. And inflation has gone up only 16% during that same time.
So, from the period 2008 through 2016 K12 education funding has increased a whopping 30% and inflation has only increased 16%. How much more money does the education industry want? They should tell us.