Legislature(2003 - 2004)
03/13/2003 11:05 AM EDU
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 171-REPEAL CHARTER SCHOOL GRANTS Number 2865 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." REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked what the definition is of a charter school. How does it differ from a public school or a private school? Number 2954 EDDY JEANS, Manager, School Finance and Facilities Section Education Support Services, Department of Education and Early Development, testified in support of HB 171. He explained that a charter school is actually a public school where there is a contract between the parent advisory group, the people that set up the charter school, and the local district. REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked if charter schools have a certain mission that they are trying to obtain. How is it different than just a regular public school? MR. JEANS replied that charter schools are allowed to develop innovative educational programs that the school district may not be employing at the time. Typically, charter schools are developed through a grassroots movement by parents that want to be very involved in their children's education. TAPE 03-11, SIDE B Number 2998 CHAIR GATTO agreed with Mr. Jeans that the parents are very involved in their children's education. They do painting, fix the heater, and volunteer in the classrooms. At Academy Charter School they might have 100 students enrolled, and they have another 100 who are trying to enroll. Midnight Sun and now Horizon are also trying to do a different take on how to educate children by getting parental input to a large degree. He said he believes this is something all the members wish would happen. He said often the schools are in substandard buildings, but fewer students are in the classroom. He told of one friend who is a pilot for FedEx and was busy painting six buildings. These schools do have good community involvement. Chair Gatto said he believes that charter schools may actually get more money than traditional schools because of startup funds that are available. Number 2933 REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked what the administration's premise is behind the bill. He asked Mr. Jeans if the reason behind removing startup funding for charter schools is based on federal funding to take its place. MR. JEANS replied that is correct. REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked if the federal funding will be adequate for startup of charter schools. MR. JEANS responded that adequate funding is in the eye of the beholder. The amount of money that is being proposed to be allocated through federal startup grants is more than what charter schools are currently receiving under the combined total of the federal and state grant funding. Charter schools will get more money. REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked if the federal grant has been enacted yet or is still under discussion in Congress. MR. JEANS said that there is actually an application process that the state must go through. The state charter school administrator has already been in contact with the director of charter schools at the U.S. Department of Education. He has indicated that he is supportive of this proposal. REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked whether there is a 100 percent certainty that the state will receive this money. MR. JEANS replied that it is not 100 percent sure, but he has a letter supporting this proposal from the director of charter schools, who knows [the state's] application is coming and who has given every indication that he will approve [the state's] request. REPRESENTATIVE GARA said he is concerned with enacting this bill in the event that there might be problems with the approval by the U.S. Department of Education. The state needs to be sure not to make the mistake of eliminating the funding only to find out the federal funding is not coming through. MR. JEANS responded that the bill has a one-year delay in effective date as it is. If the grant does not come from the federal government, the legislature could readdress this. Number 2805 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to report HB 171 out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. REPRESENTATIVE GARA objected to the motion. He told the committee he would support the bill when the state knows it will receive federal funding. He said he cannot support this bill based on the administration's representation that it believes it will receive this funding. A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Gatto, Seaton, Coghill, Wilson, and Wolf voted in favor of reporting HB 171 from committee. Representatives Gara and Kapsner voted against it. Therefore, HB 171 was reported out of the House Special Committee on Education by a vote of 5-2.