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Petition seeks $2,000 stipends for parents of children in ASD while learning at home

Schools across Alaska will be welcoming students back to the classroom, either virtually or in person. (KTUU)
Schools across Alaska will be welcoming students back to the classroom, either virtually or in person. (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 5:56 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Following an announcement that the Anchorage School District will begin the school year with only online classes, a commissioner of one of Alaska’s state agencies started a petition calling on the district to issue stipends to parents of children who will be educated in their homes.

Kelly Tshibaka, Commissioner of the Department of Administration, says that she started the petition not in her position as a commissioner, but as a mother of five children in ASD.

“We chose not to home school for a reason. We’re not ready for this,” Tshibaka said. “And so ASD has asked us to partner with them in schooling, we need the resources to do that. I understand needing to close the schools, needing to keep our teachers safe, needing to keep our kids safe, but we need the resources to be able to do that because we’re not prepared for this.”

The petition calls on the district to provide parents with $2,000 per elementary student, and $2,400 per high school student. The rate is comparable to what parents who opt to home school their children receive through the Alaska Homeschool Allotment.

“We’re working full time, we’re looking for jobs, we’re unemployed, we’re single parents, we don’t have the resources that we need to keep up the gifted kids. We don’t have the resources for special needs. We need tutors, we need supplemental resources for what the school is going to give us,” Tshibaka said. “We’re not asking for a lot. We’re asking for the same thing that you’re giving the homeschooling parents anyway. We’ve been forced into homeschooling when we didn’t choose it. So let’s just have some support to do what you’re asking us to do.”

Tshibaka says that her position as commissioner does not prevent her from being able to take actions that she believes are in the best interest of her children.

“I became a mom 16 years ago and I’ll be a mom long after I’m a commissioner, and that’s exactly why I started this petition,” Tshibaka said.

In response to the petition, ASD provided the following statement:

ASD understands that the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has created significant hardships for families throughout the community. In response to these challenges, ASD is offering a comprehensive and robust set of online learning options this fall with a wide range of resources and supports for families. To learn more, families can reach out to their school, go to the ASD website, or call 742-HELP.

In looking at solutions, we must balance what is needed in the short-term with longer-term requirements of providing diverse and robust programs across the District into the future. The proposal to pay families $2000 this fall for each student would cost $94 million. These funds are expended on contracts which provide for the robust public education in ASD. The Anchorage School District’s educational programs include a host of essential, enriching programs such as music, Advanced Placement, art, language immersion, honors and gifted, career technical education, and much more. In their feedback to the District, parents have been very clear about the importance of these rigorous course offerings to their children’s well-rounded education.

Anchorage School District

You can learn more ASD’s 2020 start plan here.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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