Public Radio for Alaska's Bristol Bay
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Dillingham City School District will need major BSA boost to keep all of its programs

The front of Dillingham's middle school/ high school building
Christina McDermott
The front of Dillingham's middle school/ high school building

The Dillingham City School District is facing rising costs ahead of the next fiscal year. District business manager Phil Hulett said state education funding would need to increase by approximately $800 per student for the district to break even.

“Anything more than that is where we can start bringing back some programs and different things that we’ve had to cut out, those little fringes that we’ve had to trim over the last couple of years,” he said.

Hulett said the district may lose some programs this year because grants that cover activities like summer school are ending. Further, he said that although enrollment is down, necessary costs like those for student transportation are not.

“Our enrollment has been going down but costs are still going up. Our transportation alone goes up every year based on our contract, even though we’re hauling less students,” he said.

Hulett lobbied for more funding in Juneau earlier this month, where state lawmakers are debating whether to increase the base student allocation or BSA – the amount of money per student school districts get from the state.

Bristol Bay Independent Rep. Bryce Edgmon said that superintendents, board members, and community members statewide have called for an increase.

“We have had, I dare say, virtually every superintendent in the state and almost every school board member, not quite of course, but a lot of concerned community members, lobbying the legislature to please please increase funding for schools,” he said.

The base student allocation has not had a significant bump since 2017. In 2022, it saw a $30 increase as part of the Alaska Reads Act. Legislature passed a one-time school funding boost last year, but Gov. Mike Dunleavy vetoed half of it.

Alaska’s House majority has proposed a $300 increase to the BSA as part of a wide-ranging education bill. It also includes bonuses for teachers, more funding for correspondence schools and student transportation, protections for deaf students, and changes to the approval process for charter schools. Edgmon said the bill started out as a means to increase internet speeds at rural schools, and some of the additions are controversial. He said there is still disagreement on the bill in the legislature.

Edgmon said he supports a larger BSA increase.

The Association of Alaska School Boards has called for an increase of roughly $1,400 to the BSA.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Christina McDermott began reporting for KDLG, Dillingham’s NPR member station, in March 2023. Previously, she worked with KCBX News in San Luis Obispo, California, where she focused on local news and cultural stories. She’s passionate about producing evocative, sound-rich work that informs and connects the public.