Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/11/2003 11:00 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 171-REPEAL CHARTER SCHOOL GRANTS                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1335                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  next order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 171, "An  Act repealing the charter  school grant                                                               
program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1323                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDDY  JEANS,  Manager,  School Finance  and  Facilities  Section,                                                               
Education  Support Services,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development,  testified  in  support   of  HB  171  and  provided                                                               
background information about the bill.   He told the committee HB                                                               
171 would repeal the state  grant program that was implemented in                                                               
fiscal year  2002 (FY  02) that allocates  $500 per  ADM [average                                                               
daily membership]  to each new  charter school.  The  funding was                                                               
intended to  supplement the startup  grants for  charter schools.                                                               
The  state  Department  of Education  and  Early  Development  is                                                               
working very  closely with  the U.S.  Department of  Education to                                                               
increase  the  level  of  startup   grants  through  the  federal                                                               
program,   thereby,   eliminating   the  need   for   the   state                                                               
supplemental program.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  said the state  would allocate to new  charter schools                                                               
$150,000 per year  for the first three years, and  $45,000 in the                                                               
fourth year,  for a  total of $495,000  in startup  funds through                                                               
the federal program.  He  pointed out that this legislation would                                                               
not take effect  until July 1, 2004.   The reason is  that in the                                                               
current year's budget  there is a request for $158,400.   That is                                                               
the additional money that is  due to the existing charter schools                                                               
under this  state program; [the department  is] recommending that                                                               
be funded in the current year's  budget, and that this section of                                                               
statute  be repealed  in the  subsequent year.   The  state would                                                               
then rely 100  percent on the federal grants.   Mr. Jeans pointed                                                               
out that  the startup grants  for the charter schools  that exist                                                               
right  now range  from approximately  $160,000  to $180,000,  and                                                               
that is  why there was  a need  for additional funding  under the                                                               
state program.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1198                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO asked,  if a  charter school  is in  the process  of                                                               
forming right  now and its  goal is to  get started prior  to the                                                               
deadline and  get full  funding, whether  it will  be able  to do                                                               
that before the effective date without finding some obstacles.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1157                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS replied  that the  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development currently has four new  charter schools on its agenda                                                               
for the  state school board  next week.   It is  the department's                                                               
intent  that those  new schools  would  be funded  under the  new                                                               
federal program, not under the current state program.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  what the  difference is  in funding                                                               
between the  new program, using  federal dollars, versus  the old                                                               
program, using state general fund dollars.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS replied that under  the old program the state allocated                                                               
$160,000  to  $180,000  of  federal  startup  grants  to  charter                                                               
schools.   In  addition, the  charter schools  could apply  for a                                                               
state  startup  grant  that  was   equal  to  $500  per  student.                                                               
Obviously, the  state allocation varied, depending  on the number                                                               
of students enrolled.  What  these charter schools were allocated                                                               
under the federal program was  reviewed, and the allocation under                                                               
the  state program  was added.   It  was found  that the  largest                                                               
single allocation  was to the  Family Partnership  Charter School                                                               
out  of  Anchorage,  which generated  between  the  two  programs                                                               
$478,000.   What the  department is suggesting  is that  with the                                                               
new  authorization  under  the federal  program,  the  department                                                               
would  be able  to fund  any new  charter school  at $495,000  in                                                               
startup funds.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1072                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO announced  as  a  point of  information  for the  30                                                               
individuals waiting  on line to testify  on HB 174 that  the time                                                               
is already  12:30 p.m.  and the meeting  will end at  1 p.m.   He                                                               
said  everyone is  welcome  to  continue to  listen  and to  give                                                               
testimony; however, it  is unlikely that everyone  will have time                                                               
to testify today.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1019                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked  Mr. Jeans about just  amending the law                                                               
to say  that if adequate  federal funding is available,  then the                                                               
$500 state appropriation  will not be available,  but leaving the                                                               
law on  the books for  those schools and instances  where federal                                                               
funding  will not  be adequate.    He asked  why the  legislature                                                               
should repeal the law.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS replied  that the  law was  adopted to  supplement the                                                               
level the  state was funding  school districts under  the federal                                                               
program.  The  department has been working very  closely with the                                                               
Director of Charter Schools at  the U.S. Department of Education,                                                               
Dean Kern,  and has forwarded  this proposal  to him.   Mr. Kerns                                                               
supports  [the department's]  proposal at  the level  of $150,000                                                               
per year  for the first three  years, plus $45,000 in  the fourth                                                               
year, and with  that support the administration does  not see the                                                               
need to leave the state statute on the books.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0921                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said he  is  concerned  that while  startup                                                               
money  will be  available for  the next  few years,  there is  no                                                               
guarantee  it will  be available  in the  future.   He asked  Mr.                                                               
Jeans:   Why not leave  this program  in place that  allows state                                                               
money to  be used  in those  instances when  there is  not enough                                                               
federal money?  Why not come  up with a state formula that allows                                                               
state money to  kick in when there is not  enough federal funding                                                               
available?                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS responded that the  legislature could amend the statute                                                               
to  say that  if a  charter school  did not  receive $450,000  in                                                               
federal funds  that the  school would  qualify for  an additional                                                               
state grant.   That  is an  option the  legislature will  have to                                                               
decide.    The  Department  of Education  and  Early  Development                                                               
believes  that through  the federal  program there  will be  more                                                               
resources  available   for  startup  funds  than   are  currently                                                               
available under the  old federal program in  combination with the                                                               
state's startup grants.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0820                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  announced that testimony is  closed on HB 171.   [HB                                                               
171 was held over.]                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                

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