Sitka’s Mt. Edgecumbe High School has escaped the chopping block — for the time being.
The state-run boarding school came under the microscope last week (2-18-15) when Wasilla Republican Lynn Gattis called a hearing to consider whether the state might save money by closing the school, or transferring it to the Sitka School District. Gattis chairs the House Finance Subcommittee on Education & Early Development.
Mt. Edgecumbe enrolls more than 400 students from around the state, many from rural villages. About 80% of the student body is Alaska Native.
But after the Department of Education’s Heidi Teschner told the committee that it would actually cost more to educate students in their home districts than at Mt. Edgecumbe, Gattis said she was satisfied.
At the subcommittee’s final meeting on Tuesday (2-24-15), Gattis told Southeast representatives that she wasn’t targeting the school.
“This wasn’t easy for any of us,” she said. “As we processed through Mt. Edgecumbe High School, I know that it was tough, we only had one high school that was under this department. So it wasn’t easy for any of you folks, and I do feel for the folks from Southeast. It may have felt that we were looking specifically at your schools, and that’s not so. Other representatives throughout Alaska have taken hits, and we tried to do it as equalized as we could.”
“This is going to be a tough year,” she added.
The subcommittee left the school’s funding untouched at the levels proposed by Governor Bill Walker. The governor’s budget sets aside $10.8 million for the school in fiscal year 2016. That’s slightly higher than its 2015 funding.
That recommendation will now go before the full House Finance Committee.