Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/13/2003 11:05 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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                                                               
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]                                                               
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                                                               
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.                                                                                        

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