October 29, 2008

UA budget puts big emphasis on K-12 outreach, partnerships

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008

The University of Alaska Board of Regents will meet on the Fairbanks campus from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday to discuss the proposed FY10 operating and capital budgets for the 16-campus system. The top priority of the proposed budget is a $2.6 million investment in strengthened partnerships with K-12 schools, which includes summer bridging programs, Tech Prep, career awareness, outreach, testing and placement and teacher preparation.

The idea behind the request is to strengthen support for students while they're still in K-12 schools, leading to better chances of success in college or work.

"The sad truth is that the college-going rate of Alaska's high school graduates is among the lowest in the nation. That's in addition to already having one of the lowest high school graduation percentages in the nation," said UA President Mark Hamilton. "This isn't just a K-12 problem, though. If a third grader can't read, it's everyone's problem. Our businesses and agencies are desperate to hire qualified and well-trained Alaskans, but they can't do it if the labor pool isn't properly equipped. Strengthening our partnerships and programs that help our students succeed is something we must do."

Public testimony will be taken at 10 a.m. in Room 109 of the Butrovich Building, on the West Ridge of the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.
Other proposed operating budget priorities include:
. $1.4 million in energy solutions for Alaska, including critical faculty members in energy economics, renewable power and alternative energy, as well as outreach through the university's Cooperative Extension Service to share that knowledge with the public;
. $1.5 million toward engineering programs, which includes funding for reaching UA's goal of doubling the number of engineering graduates by 2012;
. $3 million toward the university's biomedical capacity and health programs, including new faculty positions in key areas;
. And $2.3 million for campus workforce programs, including the marine transportation program at UAS-Ketchikan; the process technology program at Kenai Peninsula College; and the Career, Vocational and Technical Program at Kodiak College.

The UA operating budget, if approved at $342 million in state general funds, would be a 9 percent increase in state funding over the current fiscal year. The university would generate $552 million of its own funding, including federal funds, for a total of $894 million in operating funds for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2009.

UA's proposed capital budget, at $500 million in state investment, puts a top priority on maintaining existing facilities and equipment, at $50 million. Other capital projects would require the following in state general funds:
. A new Life Sciences Building at UAF (formerly known as BIOS), $82 million;
. Campus entrance improvements at UAS in Juneau, $4 million;
. A new UAA Sports Arena, $65 million;
. And reducing a major maintenance backlog across the UA system, $150 million.

Regents must approve the budget before it is submitted to the governor's office for consideration.

For a complete look at the budget request and supporting documents, go to www.alaska.edu/bor and click on "agendas."

For more information call Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102.