Legislation To Close Schools With Fewer Than 25 Students?

Rep. Gattis has been in the news lately saying she plans to introduce legislation to close schools with fewer than 25 students, an issue that Sen. Dunleavy brought up last session. So I went down to the Capitol Building Tuesday and talked to a few legislators, and I think I've got the skinny on whether or not the legislature will pass legislation to close schools with fewer than 25 students. I talked to Sens. Stedman and Bishop, and Reps. Nagiak and Talerico, all majority members. 

Most importantly, Sen. Stedman, who has ten schools with fewer than 25 students in his district, said it ain't gonna happen. He said there is not the political will to close schools. He said, jokingly, that they want to keep kids in school so they don't have a bunch of hoodlums running around. Sen. Stedman did say, however, that the legislature may look at other cost-saving measures, like consolidating small school districts.

Sen. Bishop and Rep. Talerico have quite a few schools with fewer than 25 students in their legislative districts. Sen. Bishop said he's open to looking at the issue, and doesn't have a position one way or the other. His staff is looking into whether it would save money or not, and they will share that information with me when they have it. Rep. Talerico said he doesn't have a strong position on the issue, but leans toward opposing it. He also said that a few people in the Denali Borough School District have talked about combining small high schools to give students access to more variety of classes.

Rep. Nageak only has two schools with enrollment below 25 students in his legislative district, and said his district doesn't support closing small schools, so he opposes it.

In addition to the legislators I talked to on Tuesday, when Sen. Dunleavy raised the issue of closing small schools last session, both the House and Senate Minorities said they strongly oppose closing any schools. 

The Alaska Dispatch News published an editorial by Reps. Edgmon and Herron, and Sens. Hoffman and Stevens that was strongly in opposition to closing small schools. Those legislators all have a large number of small schools in their legislative districts. 

So it looks like the issue is probably a non-starter and won't go anywhere. Below is a list of schools with an ADM of fewer than 25 in the 2014/15 school year, according to information on DEED's website, and whose legislative district they are in.

  • Akutan School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Anderson School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Arvik School, Herron/Hoffman
  • Barry Craig School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Beryozova School, Keller/Dunleavy
  • Blackwell School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Cantwell School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Chenega Bay School, Stutes/Stevens
  • Chignik Bay School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Chignik Lagoon School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Chignik Lake School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Chiniak School, Stutes/Stevens
  • Circle School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Cooper Landing School, Chenault/Micciche
  • Cruikshank School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Diomede School, Foster/Olson
  • Dot Lake School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Ella B. Vernetti School, Foster/Olson
  • Extensions Correspondence School, Foster/Olson
  • False Pass School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Gladys Dart School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Gusty Michael School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Haines Home School, Kito/Egan
  • Hollis School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Hope School, Chenault/Micciche
  • Howard Valentine School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Hyder School, Ortiz/Stedman
  • Igiugig School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Innoko River School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Jack Ignaty School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Johnny John Sr. School, Herron/Hoffman
  • Johnny Oldman School, Nageak/Olson
  • Kaltag School, Foster/Olson
  • Karluk School, Stutes/Stevens
  • Klukwan School, Kito/Egan
  • Kokhanok School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Lakeview Homeschool, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Larsen Bay School, Stutes/Stevens
  • Marathon School, Olson/Micciche
  • Meshik School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Moose Pass School, Chenault/Micciche
  • Naukati School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • New Horizons High School, Colver/Dunleavy
  • NWABSD Home School, Nageak/Olson
  • Pelican School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Pilot Point School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Port Alexander School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Port Lions School, Stutes/Stevens
  • Port Protection School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Qugcuun School, Herron/Hoffman
  • Slana School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Tanacross School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Tatitlek School, Stutes/Stevens
  • Tenakee School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • Tsuk Taih School, Talerico/Bishop
  • Twin Hills School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Valdez Home School, Colver/Dunleavy
  • Whale Pass School, Kreiss-Tomkins/Stedman
  • William Sonny Nelson School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Yakov E. Netsvetoff School, Edgmon/Hoffman
  • Yakutat Home School, Stutes/Stevens