Legislature(2009 - 2010)CAPITOL 106

04/08/2009 08:00 AM EDUCATION


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ SB 57 CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
*+ HB 215 STUDENT COUNTS/TEACHERS' SALARIES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 59 PRE-ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROGRAMS/PLANS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 59(EDC) Out of Committee
SB  57-CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:52:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON announced that the next order of business would be                                                                 
SENATE BILL NO. 57, "An Act relating to charter school funding."                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:52:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR JOE THOMAS, Alaska State Legislature, presented the CS                                                                  
for SB 57, paraphrasing from a prepared statement, which read as                                                                
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     SB 57 is about supporting  school choice and doing away                                                                    
     with the charter school penalty.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Current law  results in charter schools  with under 150                                                                    
     students receiving  30% to 45% less  state funding than                                                                    
     neighborhood schools of their same size.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The   colored   chart   in  your   packet   graphically                                                                    
     demonstrates the effect of the current law.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     This  legislation  solves  the funding  problem  in  an                                                                    
     equitable, fiscally responsible manner.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     CSSB  57 states  that charter  schools with  fewer than                                                                    
     150 students will have their  student count adjusted by                                                                    
     the same per-student rate  as neighborhood schools with                                                                    
     400 students.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     CSSB 57  also addresses the problem  created for school                                                                    
     districts  when their  charter and  alternative schools                                                                    
     unexpectedly  enroll  fewer  students than  the  number                                                                    
     required  for  the  state  to  fund  them  as  separate                                                                    
     schools.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Today, the minimum number of  students a charter school                                                                    
     must have  to be  funded as  a school  is 150,  and the                                                                    
     enrollment  an alternative  school  must  have is  200.                                                                    
     When these  schools fall just  one student  below those                                                                    
     thresholds in the October count  period, the state cuts                                                                    
     funding by  $500,000 -  $700,000.   This is  a disaster                                                                    
     for the school and its district.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     CSSB  57 contains  a one-year,  hold-harmless provision                                                                    
     for  charter  schools   and  alternative  schools  that                                                                    
     unexpectedly fall  below the threshold, and  are either                                                                  
     in  their first  year of  operation or  were above  the                                                                    
     threshold  the  previous year.    For  one year,  these                                                                    
     schools will  receive 95% of the  per-student rate they                                                                    
     would have received at the threshold.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Charter  schools  in  their  hold  harmless  year  must                                                                    
     submit a  budget to their  local school  boards, laying                                                                    
     out  the   plan  for  the   following  year   if  their                                                                    
     enrollment does not rise.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Finally,  SB 57  lowers  the separate-school  threshold                                                                    
     for alternative schools from 200 to 175.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Alaska has  a serious  problem with  school achievement                                                                    
     and high school graduation.   One type of school is not                                                                    
     best for all students.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Charter schools  and alternative schools  offer parents                                                                    
     choice within the public school system.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     This  legislation  has  received  strong  support  from                                                                    
     around the  state.  We  have been contacted  by parents                                                                    
     from  Ketchikan to  Nome.   The  Alaska Association  of                                                                    
     School  Boards, and  representatives of  the Fairbanks,                                                                    
     Nome,  Juneau,  Anchorage, Lower  Kuskokwim,  Ketchikan                                                                    
     and Mat-Su school districts have  testified in favor of                                                                    
     SB 57.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Our  school  funding  system has  limited  communities'                                                                    
     ability to create and sustain  innovative programs.  It                                                                    
     is  essential that  the  legislature  take action  this                                                                    
     session, and I would appreciate your support.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:55:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked if there  is a minimum enrollment for                                                               
charter schools.   She recalled that charter  schools were funded                                                               
the  same  as  public  schools  so long  as  enrollment  was  150                                                               
students  or  more.    The   aforementioned  provided  the  state                                                               
protection  against   having  numerous  low   enrollment  charter                                                               
schools that would receive a disproportionate amount of funding.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS answered that the minimum enrollment for charter                                                                 
schools is the same as for public schools, which is 10 students.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:56:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  surmised then  that a charter  school with                                                               
10 students would receive the same  amount of funding as a school                                                               
of 400 students.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS   directed  attention   to  the   chart  entitled                                                               
"Adjusted  Student Count  for  Charter  Schools vs.  Neighborhood                                                               
Schools,"  which  illustrates how  the  count  is adjusted.    He                                                               
acknowledged  that  the funding  is  for  a neighborhood  school,                                                               
which  is a  school  of 400  students.   In  further response  to                                                               
Representative  Wilson, Senator  Thomas confirmed  that the  left                                                               
axis represents the count adjustment per student.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:58:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  noted  that  the  aforementioned  chart  has  been                                                               
previously viewed without the projection of SB 57.  He said:                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     The problem is the  blue bars [neighborhood schools] is                                                                    
     you get  smaller and smaller  as a single  site school.                                                                    
     It's showing that if it's  a noncharter school, the per                                                                    
     child amount  goes up and  up and up because  you don't                                                                    
     have  the  economy  of  scale.   The  purpose  of  this                                                                    
     legislation  is so  that it  doesn't drop  so far  that                                                                    
     it's  uneconomic to  have a  charter school  under 150.                                                                    
     But,  it doesn't  give the  same advantage  as a  small                                                                    
     school  would.    So,  it  just caps  it  at  a  level.                                                                    
     There's actually a decreased  amount because you're not                                                                    
     funded at the higher per  student that you would get at                                                                    
     a 150 or  above; it jumps up to the  400 student level.                                                                    
     So,  that's  not going  to  encourage  an explosion,  I                                                                    
     don't think,  of small charter  schools.  But,  the big                                                                    
     problem has been that if  a school drops below 150, the                                                                    
     regular school district  has to take out  of its budget                                                                    
     a large amount of money  to offset because the formula,                                                                    
     then,  doesn't work  even to  hold the  school district                                                                    
     harmless.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:59:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS  mentioned that the  committee should also  have a                                                               
document entitled "Example  Adjusted Student Count Calculations,"                                                               
which supports the aforementioned chart.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:00:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  expressed some  confusion with  regard to                                                               
how  this legislation  treats  charter  and alternative  schools,                                                               
particularly since  both charter schools and  alternative schools                                                               
offer alternative programs to the  standard schools.  She related                                                               
her  understanding  that  charter   schools  tend  to  have  more                                                               
involved and engaged families than  the alternative schools.  The                                                               
alternative  schools sometimes  serve the  needs of  students who                                                               
haven't been  successful in other  schools.  In terms  of funding                                                               
and that they tend to be  smaller schools, she inquired as to why                                                               
alternative  schools  may need  to  be  handled differently  than                                                               
charter schools.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS related  that there  are some  basic differences,                                                               
including  that  the   school  district  is  in   charge  of  how                                                               
alternative  schools   are  run   and  there  is   more  parental                                                               
involvement in the operation of a charter school.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER asked  if SB 57 proposes to  make the same                                                               
changes for charter schools and alternative schools.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS   replied  that  the  changes   proposed  in  the                                                               
legislation  are the  same for  charter  schools and  alternative                                                               
schools, except for the change to the threshold.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  clarified that  the threshold  refers to  the size.                                                               
The size before the 95 percent  would come into play would be 175                                                               
students for alternative schools and 150 for charter schools.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  asked  whether  there could  be  a  good                                                               
argument  for treating  alternative schools  in the  same way  as                                                               
charter schools, in terms of funding.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS  acknowledged that there  could be.   He explained                                                               
that  the desire  was  to  keep the  fiscal  note  down, and  the                                                               
thought  was that  in the  future there  may be  more adjustment.                                                               
The legislation  presents what is  acceptable with which  to move                                                               
forward [in fiscal terms].                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:03:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER said  that  although she  didn't want  to                                                               
damage  the prospects  of  SB 57  moving  forward, she  expressed                                                               
concern  with  protecting the  charter  school  students but  not                                                               
doing  the same  for the  alternative schools  students with  the                                                               
same needs.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS related that most  of the comments he has received                                                               
have been in  regard to concerns with charter schools.   The main                                                               
concern has been to reduce the count to 175.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:04:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   GARDNER  questioned   whether  the   reason  the                                                               
majority  of  the comments  were  regarding  charter schools  was                                                               
because  those folks  tend to  be  more involved.   Perhaps,  the                                                               
alternative  schools  have  the  same needs  just  not  the  same                                                               
involvement, she suggested.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS acknowledged that may  be the case, but noted that                                                               
folks were contacted to provide  comments on alternative schools.                                                               
The school districts did comment, he related.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:04:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER clarified  that an  alternative school  is                                                               
not defined  in statute, but  rather is defined in  regulation as                                                               
school  that's  designed for  the  specific  needs of  particular                                                               
students.   Therefore,  any district  can  create an  alternative                                                               
school.     Furthermore,   the   alternative  school   regulation                                                               
specifies that a charter school  is a type of alternative school.                                                               
He reminded the  committee that when he  had similar legislation,                                                               
he  found   the  drafters  being   hesitant  due  to   the  vague                                                               
definitions of schools.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:05:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MUNOZ  pledged that  during the interim  she would                                                               
help  craft   language  that  would   lower  the   threshold  for                                                               
alternative schools.  There is also  the need to address the need                                                               
for state  compliant language in  order for the state  to receive                                                               
the  federal funding  available  for  charter school  facilities.                                                               
Regarding  the   facilities  issue,  charter  schools   have  the                                                               
responsibility of  paying for their  facilities out of  their per                                                               
student allocation, while the  facilities for alternative schools                                                               
are  provided by  the school  district at  no extra  cost to  the                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:09:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LAURY   SCANDLING,   Assistant  Superintendent,   Juneau   School                                                               
District,  City  &  Borough  of   Juneau,  said  that  she  would                                                               
specifically speak about alternative schools  as she has spent 11                                                               
years  as a  manager  of  an alternative  program  within a  high                                                               
school as well  as a separate alternative high  school in Juneau.                                                               
She highlighted  that the alternative school  students are funded                                                               
at the rate of the largest  school in the district, using the .84                                                               
multiplier.   The aforementioned  assumes there are  economies of                                                               
scale at an alternative school that  might be achieved at a large                                                               
high school.   However, Ms. Scandling said that's  simply not the                                                               
case because  from her experience, those  students in alternative                                                               
programs are there  for a reason and bring a  host of issues that                                                               
require  intensive  academic  and   social  support.    She  then                                                               
mentioned  that  there  is often  a  concentration  of  secondary                                                               
students  in alternative  programs whereas  there tends  to be  a                                                               
concentration  of   elementary  students  in   charter  programs.                                                               
Therefore, she  recommended the  committee consider  dropping the                                                               
level at which  students can be funded at a  more equitable level                                                               
from 200 to 175 or 150.   She related that her research regarding                                                               
the effectiveness  of organizations  that operate at  the tipping                                                               
point of 150 has resulted in her preference for 150.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:12:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH   asked  if  Ms.  Scandling   supports  CSSB
57(FIN).                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCANDLING declined  to make  a statement  since she  has not                                                               
read the entire legislation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:12:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER asked  if Ms.  Scandling would  anticipate                                                               
action to obtain  more students if the legislature  were to lower                                                               
the threshold for alternative schools down to 175 students.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCANDLING  expressed  her pride  with  Juneau's  alternative                                                               
program,  which  has  been  nationally   recognized  as  a  model                                                               
program.    Drawing  upon  her experience  as  the  principal  of                                                               
Juneau's  alternative school,  recalled that  its annual  average                                                               
attendance  was  around 190  students.    However, the  quarterly                                                               
admissions system causes there to  be a rollover of students each                                                               
quarter.    The  challenge  [were  the  threshold  lowered],  she                                                               
opined, would be to ensure that  a greater number of students was                                                               
enrolled  by  the  count  date.    She  further  opined  that  an                                                               
enrollment threshold  of 150  is more  manageable and  better for                                                               
students  because effectiveness  is lost  at an  enrollment level                                                               
over 150.   However, she  recalled that she worked  with Juneau's                                                               
alternative school  on a long-range  plan with a three-  to five-                                                               
year  implementation  period  and  an enrollment  of  up  to  200                                                               
students as  that's the current  level of funding.   Still, there                                                               
was  concern with  the  size of  the  alternative school  because                                                               
smaller  class   sizes  make   a  difference.     In   answer  to                                                               
Representative  Keller, Ms.  Scandling responded  that she  would                                                               
anticipate the  alternative school  seeking more students  if the                                                               
threshold  is increased.   She  reminded the  committee that  the                                                               
funding is  provided to the  district that hosts  the alternative                                                               
school, and  therefore the  funding is  a general  revenue source                                                               
and the allocation of the funds is  up to each school board.  She                                                               
mentioned  that   the  Juneau   School  District   has  generally                                                               
supported  Juneau's  alternative  programs  over  time  with  the                                                               
necessary resources.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:15:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRAD  FAULKNER,  Member,   Academic  Policy  Committee,  Fireweed                                                               
Academy,  stated   support  for  CSSB  57(FIN).     Mr.  Faulkner                                                               
mentioned to  the committee that since  Standard Base Assessments                                                               
(SBAs) are being administered today,  most teachers are unable to                                                               
testify.    Mr.  Faulkner  opined  that  from  a  charter  school                                                               
perspective,  SB 57  isn't perfect.   He  informed the  committee                                                               
that the Fireweed Academy has a  student count of 90, but will be                                                               
funded  as a  school  with 400  students.   Still,  those in  the                                                               
Fireweed Academy will share the  facility with other students and                                                               
receive  substantially  less funds  than  other  students in  the                                                               
facility.    However,  the  legislation  is  a  good  start  that                                                               
everyone in the charter school  community supports.  Mr. Faulkner                                                               
then  highlighted some  differences  between alternative  schools                                                               
and charter schools.   A major difference is  that an alternative                                                               
school receives  local funding while  a charter school  does not.                                                               
For example,  none of the Kenai  property taxes are used  to fund                                                               
the charter  school, and  therefore the  funding for  the charter                                                               
school starts at  about 30 percent less than  for other students.                                                               
Furthermore, the charter  school is funded at  26-30 percent less                                                               
from  the state.   Moreover,  charter schools  don't receive  any                                                               
funding  for the  facility.   In the  past, charter  schools have                                                               
experienced up to  90 percent of bonding for  facilities of state                                                               
reimbursement.  Currently, it's around  60 percent.  However, out                                                               
of  those state  funds, the  charter school  has to  pay for  its                                                               
facilities  funding.   Mr.  Faulkner then  turned  to the  common                                                               
misconception  that charter  schools attract  the best  students.                                                               
In Homer, the  charter school has a good  reputation and receives                                                               
more needs-intensive students than is  its share.  In conclusion,                                                               
Mr. Faulkner  reiterated that CSSB  57(FIN) is a good  start that                                                               
charter schools support.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:18:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JEFF  FRIEDMAN, President,  Anchorage School  Board, Municipality                                                               
of Anchorage,  paraphrased from the following  written statement,                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Our  board has  discussed this  charter school  funding                                                                    
     several times in  the past and I believe  the board and                                                                    
     the administration are fully supportive of SB 57.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The 150  student cut off  has caused problems  with two                                                                    
     Anchorage  charter schools  since  I have  been on  the                                                                    
     board  and at  least  one charter  school before  that.                                                                    
     Two  of those  schools  ended up  closing.   The  other                                                                    
     struggled  for   a  year,  but  has   since  been  very                                                                    
     successful.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The  changes in  SB 57  will provide  a safety  net for                                                                    
     schools  that  drop  slightly  below  the  150  student                                                                    
     level,  and  will  provide  a  more  equitable  funding                                                                    
     method for alternative schools and charter schools.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Charter schools  and other alternative  schools provide                                                                    
     choice  for  those students  who  don't  fit well  into                                                                    
     traditional  neighborhood schools.   They  are a  vital                                                                    
     part of our district.  I urge you to support SB 57.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:20:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TODD HINDMAN, Lead Teacher, Anvil  City Science Academy, speaking                                                               
on behalf of  the Nome Public Schools Board of  Education and the                                                               
Academic  Policy Committee  of  the Anvil  City Science  Academy,                                                               
related support  for SB 57.   He said  that in a  small community                                                               
such as Nome,  a charter school with a student  population of 150                                                               
is highly unlikely.   Furthermore, if a charter  school with such                                                               
a  population were  achieved,  it would  likely  have an  adverse                                                               
impact on  the other  public schools.   The  small size  of Anvil                                                               
City Science Academy (ACSA) is one  of its strengths as it allows                                                               
for  flexibility  in  its  daily  operations  to  provide  unique                                                               
opportunities to its  students.  Therefore, students  are able to                                                               
go  out into  the community  and use  it as  a resource  in their                                                               
education, which provides a  more meaningful learning experience.                                                               
The  ACSA's  small size  also  creates  a culture  around  family                                                               
value,  which ensures  student success  through daily  engagement                                                               
with  the parents.   Mr.  Hindman thanked  the committee  for its                                                               
efforts  in providing  support for  small charter  schools, which                                                               
are  identifying and  meeting specific  needs in  the communities                                                               
they serve.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:21:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NANCY WAGNER, Superintendent, Fairbanks North Star School                                                                       
District, paraphrased from the following prepared statement                                                                     
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     I  am representing  the  Fairbanks  North Star  Borough                                                                    
     School  District and  want to  express our  support for                                                                    
     Senate Bill 57.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     I  would like  to thank  the House  Education Committee                                                                    
     for  scheduling   SB  57.    This   Bill  is  extremely                                                                    
     important to  Charter schools which provide  choice and                                                                    
     alternative educational programs for our students.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     We currently have  three charter schools and  a new one                                                                    
     coming on-line next  year.  Two of  our current charter                                                                    
     schools  and   our  new  charter  school   have  target                                                                    
     enrollments  at about  155 students,  so struggling  to                                                                    
     meet the 150 funding threshold is not uncommon.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     This year, one  of our charter schools  just missed the                                                                    
     150  student   "average  daily   membership"  threshold                                                                    
     during the count period, even  though they had over 150                                                                    
     students by  the end  of the count.   Falling  short of                                                                    
     the  current  enrollment  threshold cost  our  district                                                                    
     about $680k.  All because  of a small timing difference                                                                    
     related to student enrollments.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     While we  expect that all our  existing charter schools                                                                    
     will be larger  than 150 students next  year, this bill                                                                    
     helps  addresses  the   catastrophic  impact  should  a                                                                    
     school fail  to meet  that 150 student  threshold, even                                                                    
     if  by  the  thinnest  of   margins.    It  is  a  fair                                                                    
     compromise for funding of existing charter schools.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     We also  expect our  new charter  school to  exceed 150                                                                    
     students  next year.   But  this bill  also provides  a                                                                    
     fair   funding   compromise    should   their   startup                                                                    
     enrollments fall  a little  short.   It would  still be                                                                    
     difficult  to   offer  the  curriculum   as  originally                                                                    
     envisioned,  but  it would  not  be  impossible, as  is                                                                    
     currently the case.  It  provides a great incentive for                                                                    
     schools to get to their targeted enrollments.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     SB  57  fixes  the  funding problem  in  an  equitable,                                                                    
     fiscally responsible manner.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     I  encourage   you  to  pass  this   Bill.    Providing                                                                    
     alternative educational  programs is important  for the                                                                    
     public  school  system.    We   are  charged  with  the                                                                    
     responsibility  of meeting  the  needs  of EVERY  child                                                                    
     enrolled  in our  district.    Alternative and  Charter                                                                    
     Schools provide the opportunity  for Alaska families to                                                                    
     choose  the  program  that  best  meets  their  child's                                                                    
     needs.   Without the previsions  outlined in SB  57, at                                                                    
     least one of our charter  schools could be in danger of                                                                    
     having to close.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:25:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN WEETMAN, Assistant Superintendent, Mat-Su Borough School                                                                   
District, paraphrased from the following prepared statement                                                                     
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The  Mat-Su  Borough  School District  supports  Senate                                                                    
     Bill  57  and  is   supportive  of  school  choice  and                                                                    
     currently  hosts 4  charter schools  and 3  alternative                                                                    
     schools, which enroll approximately 1500 students.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     I  do believe  that  Senate Bill  57  will correct  the                                                                    
     funding   problem   in   an  impartial   and   fiscally                                                                    
     dependable manner.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     By lowering the threshold  for alternative schools from                                                                    
     200  to 175  Senate Bill  57 will  address a  financial                                                                    
     setback that occurred  this year for MSBSD,  one of our                                                                    
     alternative  schools  unexpectedly  dropped  below  the                                                                    
     required  200  number by  6  students,  resulting in  a                                                                    
     $780K deficit to the school district.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The  one-year,  hold-harmless   provision  for  charter                                                                    
     schools and alternative  schools that unexpectedly fall                                                                    
     below  the threshold,  allows  charter and  alternative                                                                    
     schools to  focus student  education and  not financial                                                                    
     deficit created by the current funding.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Charter schools  and alternative schools  offer parents                                                                    
     choice within  the public  school system  that provides                                                                    
     smaller  learning communities,  dropout prevention  and                                                                    
     increased graduation rates.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     In  conclusion Senate  Bill  57  creates a  sustainable                                                                    
     funding system  for innovative programs.   I  thank you                                                                    
      for your time and effort that all of you put in for                                                                       
     the students of Alaska.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:27:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRENDA  TAYLOR,  President,  Academic  Policy  Committee,  Juneau                                                               
Community  Charter  School,  informed  the committee  that  at  a                                                               
recent  charter  school conference  she  was  impressed with  the                                                               
variety   of  charter   schools.     The  one   thing  that   the                                                               
representatives  at  the  aforementioned conference  could  agree                                                               
upon was  the importance  of choice  for students,  teachers, and                                                               
parents.   That choice  lends itself  to students,  teachers, and                                                               
parents  having  more passion  and  involvement  in the  schools.                                                               
Therefore,  it's  not  just that  more  involved  parents  choose                                                               
charter schools,  it's that once  parents are able to  choose the                                                               
type of  education for their  child they become more  involved in                                                               
their   child's  education.      Ms.  Taylor   opined  that   the                                                               
aforementioned choice  and passion  are the reasons  that charter                                                               
schools survive.   As  has been  mentioned, charter  schools have                                                               
more expenses  than neighborhood  schools.  For  example, charter                                                               
schools have to  pay for space.  As much  as is possible, charter                                                               
schools  try  to  reduce  costs  by  using  the  passion  of  the                                                               
teachers,  parents,  and  students.     Therefore,  those  groups                                                               
perform  much  of  the  custodial  services,  supervision  during                                                               
playground time, and office/administrative  support.  She pointed                                                               
out that  charter schools have to  pay the same [as  other public                                                               
schools]  for  the teachers'  salaries  and  office staff.    The                                                               
aforementioned  has resulted  in  having to  make some  difficult                                                               
choices, such as  not having a counselor in  the Juneau Community                                                               
Charter School.  Ms. Taylor urged  the committee to work on SB 57                                                               
in  as expeditious  a manner  as  possible.   In conclusion,  she                                                               
acknowledged  that  the committee  has  a  difficult decision  in                                                               
terms of  how deeply to  review the alternative schools.   Still,                                                               
alternative  schools do  have the  [advantage]  of the  district,                                                               
which  directly supervises  and  runs alternative  schools.   The                                                               
districts have  more flexibility in  terms of the use  of funding                                                               
while the charter  schools receive funds that  come directly from                                                               
the  state and  no  outside  sources of  funds  in  the way  that                                                               
alternative schools do.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:32:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  expressed  interest  in  the  idea  that                                                               
funding  could be  used to  provide a  bus in  order to  increase                                                               
enrollment  since there  are children  who cannot  attend due  to                                                               
transportation  issues.     Therefore,  she   questioned  whether                                                               
providing  transportation  would be  a  large  factor in  charter                                                               
schools maintaining their student populations or even growing.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  TAYLOR said  that  she believes  transportation  would be  a                                                               
larger factor, even knowing that  school districts throughout the                                                               
state run differently.  For  example, in Ketchikan the bus system                                                               
works  such  that  it  can  transport  children  to  the  various                                                               
schools.  However, the Juneau  School District is more spread out                                                               
and is unable  to transport children to all  the various schools.                                                               
She opined  that this legislation  will help districts  in regard                                                               
to how to think about choice.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:34:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON,  upon determining  no one  else wished  to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:35:19 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON  inquired as to the  function of the 95  percent per                                                               
student.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:35:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
EDDIE  JEANS, Director,  School Finance  and Facilities  Section,                                                               
Department of  Education and  Early Development  (EED), explained                                                               
that  basically there  are  two hold  harmless  measures in  this                                                               
legislation.    One  of  those  measures  addresses  the  charter                                                               
schools that have more than 150  students, but have less than 150                                                               
students  in a  subsequent  year.   The  hold  harmless causes  a                                                               
charter school in such a situation  to be funded at 95 percent of                                                               
what 150  students would  generate.   The legislation  requires a                                                               
charter school in  such a situation to develop and  submit a plan                                                               
for the upcoming  year to the local school board.   There is also                                                               
a hold harmless provision for  alternative schools such that when                                                               
it  has a  student count  of more  than 175  one year,  but falls                                                               
below that the next year.   Again, the alternative school in such                                                               
a situation would be funded at  95 percent of 175 students in the                                                               
subsequent year.  Therefore, the  hold harmless clause allows the                                                               
school to plan for reduced funding or recruiting more children.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SEATON  asked  if  EED  views  the  aforementioned  as  an                                                               
equitable manner in which to do long-range planning.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS answered that it's an appropriate response.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:37:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER, drawing from  the fiscal note, related his                                                               
understanding that  the Mat-Su Borough  School District may  be a                                                               
big winner  with the passage  of this legislation.   He explained                                                               
that  in  the  Mat-Su  Borough  School  District  there  are  two                                                               
alternative  schools   that  are  near  the   200  student  count                                                               
threshold and  one that has  dropped below the 200  student count                                                               
threshold.    Therefore,  the  potential  impact  to  the  Mat-Su                                                               
Borough  School District  is high.   He  then related  his belief                                                               
that an  alternative school better  serves students at  the lower                                                               
student count of 175.  He asked if his assessment is correct.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS replied  yes, and then directed attention to  page 3 of                                                               
the fiscal note where it  references the projected student counts                                                               
of Mid Valley  Alternative High School, which  would qualify them                                                               
for  the hold  harmless funding  in fiscal  year 2010  unless the                                                               
enrollment exceeds the current projections.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER,  in   response  to  Representative  Buch,                                                               
specified that the  alternative schools in the  Mat-Su Valley are                                                               
listed on page 3 of the fiscal note.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:40:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SEATON asked  if the committee members  had any amendments;                                                               
there were  none offered.   He then  asked whether  the committee                                                               
would like  to hold  the legislation  for a  second hearing.   He                                                               
noted that although  the committee has had one hearing  on SB 57,                                                               
it has  held multiple discussions  on the topics  it encompasses.                                                               
No  request  was  made  to  hold the  legislation  for  a  second                                                               
hearing.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:40:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  said that although  he is willing  to make                                                               
the motion to forward the  legislation from committee, he related                                                               
a sense  of loss in  that money  is being distributed  without an                                                               
attachment or incentive related to academic excellence.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:41:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON mentioned that she  has changed her view of                                                               
charter schools in the system.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:42:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  moved  to  report  CSSB  57(FIN)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:43:29 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER,  referring   to  surveys  regarding  why                                                               
students  drop  out  of  school, highlighted  that  many  of  the                                                               
reasons  given for  why students  dropping out  are addressed  by                                                               
charter schools.   Therefore, she  suggested that  members review                                                               
those  ways  in which  charter  schools  support the  efforts  to                                                               
improve graduation rates.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 59 background I.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB 215 material.pdf HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/10/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 215
HB 59 workdraft version E and original version R.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB 59 background II.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
HB59-ESS-EED-4-2-09.pdf HEDC 4/6/2009 8:00:00 AM
HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
HB 59
SB 57 material I.pdf HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 57
SB 57 material II.pdf HEDC 4/8/2009 8:00:00 AM
SB 57