Governor Dunleavy addresses his education reform policies

Photo by Jasz Garrett/KINY

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – Governor Mike Dunleavy held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss education and energy.

First, he shared his overall stance on the Base Student Allocation. He said his experience as an educator has led him to approach education in a targeted approach instead.

“I can tell you this, and I would bet my retirement. If you just put money into BSA, there’ll be no change in performance. Because we’ve done that year after year,” he said. “Does that mean that schools and school districts don’t need money? They do, and we’re putting money in the BSA. But why don’t we target it to the problems we know we have?”

One targeted approach is the Teacher Incentive Retention Approach, which will be a study.

“My job is to make sure that every kid has an opportunity to perform well. My job is to fix issues when I’m confronted. What are you gonna do about the teacher turnover Dunleavy? How are we gonna get more teachers Dunleavy? Well, this is an approach,” Gov. Dunleavy said.

Gov. Dunleavy was asked if he sees school districts advocating for a larger BSA increase amid budget shortfalls as a result of poor fiscal management only.

“There are certainly school districts, one here in town that have had problems managing their budget. I used to manage budgets as a superintendent and as a school board president,” he said. “I feel for the people here in Juneau to be perfectly honest with you. I’m not kicking Juneau when it’s down. We’re helping. Our commissioner of DEED is helping Juneau.”

On Jan. 12, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) agreed to a five-year repayment plan instead of by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, according to state and district officials.

The Governor also explained why he is emphasizing more funds for charter and homeschooling, while public schools are having to cut back on programs and teacher-student levels.

“Charter schools have a much more narrow focus. And as a result, it appeals to a section of society in Alaska. Whether it’s a Waldorf approach, whether it’s a science STEM-based approach, people want to coalesce around that,” he said. “And so, you’re gonna get less turnover there because there’s more alignment as to what people want.”

He added that all charter schools are public schools, and he believes it should be celebrated that Alaska’s charter schools were ranked #1 in the nation by a Harvard study. While Gov. Dunleavy and DEED Commissioner Deena Bishop said their focus on charter schools was mischaracterized as a “local takeover”, many educators and Sen. Jesse Kiehl disagree, saying that’s exactly what it is.