Our Legislative Priorities
NEA-Alaska members are active and engaged citizens who understand that public education is about more than what happens in the classroom. We tackle the big issues that impact our profession, our schools, and our communities. Learn more about the issues we’re focused on right now.
Increase the BSA
Alaska public schools are in crisis. School districts across the state are cutting programs, closing schools, and eliminating education jobs from their budgets due to a lack of state funding. The Base Student Allocation (BSA), has been flat-funded since 2017 while fixed costs like health insurance and utility costs have skyrocketed. As a result, educators are being forced to do more with less, handle increased workloads, and spend less time ensuring every student has the opportunity to learn.
NEA-Alaska is leading the charge to increase the BSA this legislative session. In January, NEA-Alaska members voted to make raising the BSA one of our two top legislative priorities. Our Legislative Action Teams, Board of Directors, and leadership are frequently in Juneau, meeting with legislators, providing testimony, and telling their stories of how flat funding is impacting our students.
Currently, both Senate Bill (SB) 52 sponsored by the Senate Education Committee, and House Bill (HB) 65, sponsored by Representative Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan), would provide increases to the BSA. SB 52 would raise the BSA by $1,000, and HB 65 would increase it by $1,250. While it is unlikely either of these bills pass as currently written they do provide education supporters with two viable options for an increase this legislative session.
Right now, we need all supporters of public education to take a stand and email their elected leaders and tell them to pass a meaningful increase to the BSA this year. Contact your legislators today!
- Public education has been flat-funded since 2017. During that time inflation has risen 18%.
- Schools are being closed, learning opportunities are being stripped from students, and educators can’t make ends meet.
- Our public schools are in crisis mode. The Alaska State Legislature must pass a BSA increase this year.
- From 2011 to 2022, the Base Student Allocation has increased by less than 5%, while Alaska’s urban consumer price index has risen by 24.6%.
- A January 30, 2023 memo from the Legislative Finance Division calculated that the BSA would need to increase by $1,348 to match the buying power of peak year 2015.
- There are 2,100 fewer educators in Alaska classrooms today than 10 years ago.
- As of 2/21/2023, There are over 1250 open positions across the State of Alaska.
- There are 1,000 fewer certificated classroom teachers in Alaska than in 2010-2011.
What can you do?
You can be a hero for Alaska public schools by standing up for them today. By clicking the button below, you’ll be redirected to a platform which will allow you to enter your address, customize your message, and send an email to both your state senator and representative. The process only takes a couple of minutes, and it will make a huge difference.
Restore Our Pension
Alaska educators hired after 2006 have the least secure retirement system in America. Most Alaska public employees who fall into TRS III and PERS IV are without a true pension option, and most TRS III employees don’t have access to Social Security. This combination has had devastating consequences on our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest educators for our students.
In preliminary findings from Governor Dunleavy’s Teacher Retention and Recruitment Task Force, retirement was listed as one of the top-three issues for both teachers and administrators. Without a change, Alaska will continue to be a training ground for educators who want experience but have no financial incentive to remain in our retirement system beyond 5 years. This turnover is estimated to cost the State of Alaska $20 million dollars per year.
Right now, legislators in both the Alaska State House and Senate are considering legislation that would fix this broken system. Bills have been introduced that have generated bi-partisan support. Now, it’s up to all public employees to contact our legislators and tell them to pass a comprehensive solution to our retirement system.
- Alaska is the only state in the country where teachers can’t earn a pension, or at least earn a guaranteed income in retirement with Social Security.
- Alaska can no longer compete with the lower 48 when trying to recruit public education employees, our retirement system arguably makes Alaska the least attractive jurisdiction to work in the whole country.
- Alaska’s educator turnover is among the worst in the country. A 2021 study by the Institute of Education Sciences found Alaska’s teacher turnover to be 22%. Teacher turnover in rural Alaska is as high as 31%.
What can you do?
You can take direct action today by contacting your legislators and urging them to support legislation to fix our retirement system. By clicking on the button below, you’ll be redirected to an action page. All you need to do is type in your name and address and you’ll get a sample email message that will be delivered to your representative and senator. You are highly encouraged to customize your message and tell your story about how Alaska’s retirement system is impacting your family, your school, and your community.
Together, we can pass this important legislation and restore a retirement with dignity for all Alaska public employees.