Is public education funding in Alaska reaching a breaking point?

By Alex Russin

Many folks are now aware of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s recent action to veto more than $87 million dollars to support public education needs for the upcoming school year. These funds, which were part of a one-time increase to the Base Student Allocation, were supported by both the Senate and House during the legislative session, as was evident in the passage of the state budget by each body. This increase, while less than what many districts in Alaska needed to keep up with inflation, costs of goods and services, operational costs, etc., came with the support and testimony from parents, community members, school district personnel and board members, and students from across the state.

As a long-time educator, Governor Dunleavy has often spoken of his support of public education, yet his actions appear to tell a different story, one in which he seems to indicate he is woefully out of touch with the realities of school district operations. While it is easy to be critical of elected officials who campaign on a particular platform only to change course once in office, by relegating public education to the back page of his unpublished playbook, the governor seems to clearly have indicated that the growing needs of public schools, along with workforce development initiatives in the state, investment in the state’s university system, and development of a fiscal plan to grow an Alaskan economy that will attract and keep families in the state, are non-priorities for his office. 

Year after year, public education advocates testify, justify and rationalize, tell their stories, and in the case of school administrators, are held accountable, to public school funding at the local, state, and federal levels. This year was no exception, as advocates tirelessly made the case for support of public education resources during the legislative session, all with the needs of students at the forefront…and it appears our work is not quite done. 

Governor Dunleavy’s veto has a negative impact of approximately $400,000 on Cordova School District’s FY24 Budget, an impact that will be challenging to overcome since CSD has no means to generate revenue to cover the deficit, nor can we, in good conscience, spend our operational fund to zero dollars. The time is now to continue our advocacy in support of funding for public schools. 

Please consider reaching out to members of the Legislature soon by phone or email to encourage their support and vote of an override to the governor’s vetoes. Your message does not have to be long or detailed; a simple statement asking for their support in overriding the governor’s vetoes will do.   Legislature contact information can be found at:


Alex Russin is the superintendent for the Cordova School District.