Special Report


January 04, 2005 1 min read

Alaska uses a foundation formula to pay for education. The formula calculates each district’s “basic need entitlement” by multiplying the base student allocation of $4,576 in 2004-05 by an adjusted average daily membership. Alaska’s formula adjusts student enrollment for school size, district variations in cost of living, student needs (special education, bilingual education, gifted education, and vocational education students), high-cost special education students, grade level, and the number of correspondence students who participate in distance education. The state requires local districts to levy a tax of 4 mills on personal property to receive state aid. Local revenues come mainly from the personal-property tax and local sales taxes. At the state level, a portion of the cigarette tax is dedicated to education. In 1999, Alaska’s system for financing school construction was ruled unconstitutional in Kasayulie v. State. The judge ruled that the system in place for financing school facilities was racially biased—that the state had a “dual” system. Now Alaska faces a new lawsuit, Moore v. State, filed last summer, that challenges the state’s entire school finance system. The lawsuit also claims that the state has not provided the resources to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.