On January 16, 2002, the Alaska state legislature released a cost-of-education study that it had commissioned. The study, which looked at educational costs in the diverse geographic regions of the state, included four essential areas of school services: personnel; energy; supplies, materials, and small capital items; and travel.
The study was conducted by the American Institutes for Research(AIR), under the leadership of Jay Chambers. The object of the project was to calculate a geographical cost of education index, or GCEI, to replace the existing index, developed in 1998. The index sets a benchmark district, in this case the urban district of Anchorage, and calculates what percentage more or less every other school district has to spend to get the same quality of services as Anchorage. Remote, sparsely populated school districts in Alaska incur significant costs due to their isolation and extreme climate.
This study was not conducted to determine the cost of providing an “adequate” education in Alaska and was not intended to address cost differences associated with student need. Most recent costing-out studies have been “adequacy” studies.
The Alaska Department of Education announced that it would take at least a week for it to calculate the monetary gains and losses that each district would incur. It is also possible that the state would increase its entire total allocation, so that no district would receive less school funding from the state than it did in the prior year.
Prepared January 17, 2003