2 school funding bonds worth $85 million could be headed to Mat-Su voters

PALMER — The Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District wants voters in November to consider two bonds, including one that would provide up to $70 million for the construction or purchase of five charter school buildings.

The other would provide $15 million for major maintenance projects at schools.

The bonds must be approved by the borough Assembly before heading to ballots. A date for consideration by the Assembly has not yet been set. Borough bonds are paid for through an increase in borough property tax rates.

The $70 million charter school building bond would raise borough property tax bills by $41.40 per $100,000 of property value, borough finance officials said, while the $15 million maintenance bond would raise rates by $9 per $100,000.

If sent to ballots and approved by voters, the charter school construction bond would pay for new buildings for three of the district’s six charter schools and an existing building purchase or major renovations at two others.

Like neighborhood schools, charter schools are public schools operated through state and local funds. Unlike traditional district schools, however, charter schools are independently run, often have a waiting list for entrance, and use a lottery system for enrollment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has made charter schools a part of his education agenda. Dunleavy vetoed a comprehensive education funding bill in mid-March after promising to do so unless lawmakers supported his priorities which include increasing Alaska’s charter schools.


If placed on ballots and approved by voters, the major maintenance bond would cover only the most urgent of the district’s $250 million in deferred building upkeep needs, district planning officials said.

Those projects include roof replacements at Wasilla and Colony middle schools; indoor and outdoor bleacher repairs and replacements at seven schools; turf maintenance at four district high schools; and boiler replacements at five schools.

Originally proposed as a single, $85 million bond covering both projects, the school board early this month voted to split the issues to give voters more options around tax increases.

Amy Bushatz

Amy Bushatz is a veteran journalist based in the Mat-Su covering Valley news for the ADN.