Senate majority discusses education staffing difficulties

Senators research challenges to Alaska's education system
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 7:10 PM AKST
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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Education funding was a major topic of discussion during a press availability for the Alaska Senate majority coalition.

Teacher shortages plaguing all levels of Alaska public education and increasing the base student allocation were discussed by Senate majority members.

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Löki Tobin of Anchorage discussed recent explorations into career and technical education options for students.

Alaska’s teacher shortage and shrinking workforce remain complex, interwoven subjects that the members of the 33rd Alaska Legislature face.

Understaffing isn’t just a problem in K-12 education; Sen. Gary Stevens of Kodiak spoke about the faculty shortage in the University of Alaska system as a downstream effect of previous years’ budget cuts.

“The testimony from the university was that they are down because of the losses to the budget — the governor’s vetoes — they are down 500 faculty members, which is an enormous loss. I think maybe the total is something around 1,800 that they have, they lost 500 so entire programs have been lost,” Stevens said. “If we’re going to provide education for Alaskans, we need to make sure we have a fully functioning faculty.”

Stevens worked as a professor at the University of Alaska for 25 years and now serves as the Senate President.