Hundreds of children and adults held up signs, applauded speakers and used cellphones to call legislators Saturday at a noon rally on the hill north of Loussac Public Library.
This was the second Saturday rally this year organized by Great Alaska Schools, a newly formed group advocating for increased per-student education spending. The group is calling for a series of annual raises to the base student allocation, or BSA, a per-student payment that funds 57 percent of the Anchorage School District's operating budget.
On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee added an additional $75 million for school districts in its version of next year's state budget, on top of $25 million already proposed in additional school aid in the budget bill.
Officials at the rally welcomed the step to boost funding but noted that those funds are only a one-time deal.
"We appreciate the additional funding but unless it's put into the BSA, we'll be in the same conundrum next year," said Tam Agosti-Gisler, president of the ASD School Board. Education advocates also want the Legislature to protect the per-student allocation against inflation.
As organizers and students stood in front of the rally and held up the phone numbers and photographs of key legislators, parent Mary Mendonca had her cellphone ready to go.
"I've been calling every number that's here," said Mendonca, standing next to her 11-year-old daughter. "It's so well organized -- I like the ease of it, you feel empowered just to be part of the group."
By DEVIN KELLY