A Fabulous Investment of Time – AASB Law & Policy Day

Melody Douglas, Associate Executive Director, Alaska Association of School Business Officials (ALASBO)

AASB held the 4th School Law and Policy Day April 28-29, 2022, in conjunction with the Alaska Science of Reading Symposium held at the Egan Center in Anchorage to a large group of board members, superintendents, business managers, and teachers.

The well-rounded agenda included sessions presented by attorney John Sedor, Luke Fulp, Deputy Superintendent of Business and Operations, Mat-Su Borough School District, and Chad Aldeman, Policy Director with the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University. In addition, there was an enlightening civil discourse session that closed this extraordinary event.

John Sedor presented Money Matters – but how? that begins with Article 7 in the Alaska Constitution that provides for all school children in Alaska that states:

The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State and may provide for other public education institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.

Mr. Sedor provided historical context for education funding in Alaska including the constitutional funding obligation, the financial role of local communities in education, the 1975 Molly Hooch lawsuit, the 2007 Moore lawsuit, and the 2016 Ketchikan Gateway Borough lawsuit and related conclusions.

Luke Fulp presented A Guide to Funding Alaska’s Schools on the history of school funding, the funding formula, DEED’s oversight of school district spending including analysis, observations, and significant findings. Mr. Fulp included information about the CIP, inflation, the BSA and one-time funds, including a 2013 revenue by source comparison to the same for 2022, and other related information.

Chad Aldeman presented How to Make Money Matter More, Taking the Temperatures of Health Care Costs in Public Education, and It’s 2023. Where Did All the Money Go? He shared information about education spending and the related perceptions, looking at data to better understand student outcomes and he shared communication suggestions to use to engage others in data discussions.

Mr. Aldeman presented information on Alaska health care costs, cafeteria plans to provide employee choice, and suggestions for containing costs.

Mr. Aldeman’s last presentation focused on COVID ESSER funding reporting and “6 potential mistakes districts might be making with federal relief funds” and “ESSER’s success will depend on the availability of data”.

All these PowerPoint presentations can be found at https://aasb.org/aasb-school-law-policy-day/.

A highlight of this event was a session between Commissioner Michael Johnson and Senator Tom Begich moderated by John Sedor called A Free and Ordered Space – Can It Exist in A Debate? A Civil Discourse and Panel Discussion. This give and take discussion was dynamic, intriguing, and informative – it could have gone on for a couple more hours when it came time to close the event.

While the AASB Law & Policy Day is offered by AASB, there was not one of the sessions throughout this event that did not have impactful information for all school district leaders. I encourage you to connect with your superintendent about attending the next AASB Law and Policy Day – it will be well worth your time!