A Mt. Eccles Elementary School classroom on March 13, 2020. File photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith for The Cordova Times

Stevens:  Current legislation is a hard fought compromise 

A bill that would boost the Base Student Allocation (BSA), support faster broadband in rural and low-income schools, and more has emerged from the State Legislature, after what Senate President Gary Stevens called a hard-fought compromise, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants more. 

“It’s a three-legged horse, meaning it’s not going to run very far,” said Dunleavy during a news conference Tuesday, where he demanded more funds for charter schools, which would cost the state about $60 million.   

“This is a bonus directly from the state to measure, a research model that we would put in place to see does it really work,” the governor said. “Well, as a result of what happened this week, we may never know.”   

In his remarks during the news conference, he repeatedly praised the record of charter schools, without mention of the neighborhood schools that most students attend. 

Senate Bill 140, as it stands, would include a $680 per student increase in the BSA, or 11%, plus funds that include more money for student transportation. The price tag: some $246 million. 

Dunleavy said he wants more money for existing and future charter schools, plus those retention bonuses.  


“We have 15 days before it becomes law or before I veto. And I made it clear that if there are not certain elements in that bill … I won’t sign it into law. I’ll veto it,” he said. 

Stevens, a retired university educator from Kodiak, said the legislation is not perfect, but it does have a BSA increase and allows funding for starting new charter schools and students taking classes online.  

“It’s a hard-fought compromise on all sides,” Stevens said in an interview Tuesday, hours after the Dunleavy news conference. The bill initially passed the Senate last year and went to the House.  House and Senate members talked behind closed doors and when it came back to the Senate, senators concurred. 

“It really concerns me that the governor is trying to force us to accept things we don’t like,” said Stevens, who cited concerns including that $60 million price tag on the teacher bonuses.  

“People want that money in the BSA rather than teacher bonuses,” he said. “Education should be determined on a local level.”    

Stevens noted that the governor’s options include signing the bill, vetoing it or letting it become law without his signature.  

“I think he’d be foolish to veto it at this point,” he said. Stevens said he things that if Dunleavy vetoes the bill there is a very good chance legislators can override that veto.   

“I think we are close,” Stevens said. 

Even given that though, he said, “we have to be careful that the governor doesn’t come back and cut the BSA.”