Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/10/2003 02:56 PM House FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 165                                                                                                            
     "An Act relating to community schools; and providing                                                                       
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
KEVIN SWEENEY,  LEGISLATIVE LIAISON, DEPARTMENT  OF EDUCATION                                                                   
AND EARLY  DEVELOPMENT spoke in  support of the  legislation.                                                                   
He noted that the statute was  adopted in 1975 to establish a                                                                   
grant program.   He explained that that purpose  of the grant                                                                   
program  was to  provide financial  support  to assist  local                                                                   
school districts  in establishing community  school programs.                                                                   
He pointed out that every school  district currently provides                                                                   
community school  services. He maintained that  the amount of                                                                   
grant funding  represents a small  percentage of  the program                                                                   
expenditures.  He expressed the  Administration's belief that                                                                   
the  statute   had  fulfilled  its  objective   of  beginning                                                                   
community schools  programs in  each district and  stated its                                                                   
desire to end the grant program.                                                                                                
Mr. Sweeny  provided members  with a  chart illustrating  the                                                                   
current  prorated funding  formula  (copy on  file). He  also                                                                   
provided a  chart reflecting the  percentage of  state grants                                                                   
compared  to  total  expenditures  for  each  district.    He                                                                   
pointed out  the example of  Valdez, where the  State's grant                                                                   
comprised only .5 percent of program expenditures.                                                                              
Mr. Sweeny noted  that the House Health Education  and Social                                                                   
Services  Committee  amended  the  legislation  to  retain  a                                                                   
statutory  reference  to  a  community  schools  program  and                                                                   
encouraged the continued community use of schools.                                                                              
Co-Chair Harris  observed that the Fairbanks  school district                                                                   
received  a $50 thousand  grant and  expended $180  thousand,                                                                   
which  represented 27  percent  as compared  to other  school                                                                   
districts who further exceeded  their grant amounts. He asked                                                                   
what accounted for this difference.                                                                                             
Mr. Sweeney  speculated that the  Fairbanks district  did not                                                                   
account  for costs  of  utilities  or collected  a  different                                                                   
amount  in  community   fees  or  other  local   support.  He                                                                   
maintained the  potential to fund larger portions  of program                                                                   
expenditures from sources within the community.                                                                                 
Co-Chair  Harris pointed  out that the  current state  budget                                                                   
did not contain  funding for the program and  questioned what                                                                   
would  happen  if  the  legislation  were  not  enacted.  Mr.                                                                   
Sweeney  estimated that  in that  case there  would be  a pro                                                                   
ration of zero.   He reiterated that the Governor  feels that                                                                   
the statute has served its purpose.                                                                                             
Representative  Joule noted that  some districts  indicated a                                                                   
ratio  of 100 percent  grant to  expenditures.   He asked  if                                                                   
this indicated  that they received  no other funding  for the                                                                   
Mr. Sweeney  explained that these  were the amounts  reported                                                                   
as being  spent on  community schools.   He again  speculated                                                                   
that  some  districts  did  not  account  for  all  of  their                                                                   
Vice-Chair Meyer  questioned if  there are villages  that are                                                                   
receiving  funding that  would  not be  able to  make up  the                                                                   
loss.  Mr.   Sweeney  noted   that  within  those   districts                                                                   
utilizing  100 percent  of their  grant  amounts, the  grants                                                                   
ranged from  $1,500 to $15,000, with  an average of  $2 to $3                                                                   
thousand.    He speculated  that  it  would be  difficult  to                                                                   
provide a service for this amount of money.                                                                                     
Vice-Chair   Meyer  pointed   out   that  the   appropriation                                                                   
($500,000)  represents a  small amount  in the State  budget,                                                                   
whereas it creates  a greater impact on school  districts' or                                                                   
local government budgets.   He asked why the  State could not                                                                   
simply  continue the  grant  program since  it  seemed to  be                                                                   
working well.                                                                                                                   
Mr.  Sweeney acknowledged  that  the  program  funding was  a                                                                   
small amount and pointed out that  it was not currently fully                                                                   
funded. He estimated that the  full amount would be closer to                                                                   
$3 million. He reiterated that  the purpose of the grants was                                                                   
to generate programs, and stressed  that communities must now                                                                   
begin to maintain these programs on their own.                                                                                  
JOYCE  KITKA,  VOLUNTEER, ALASKA  ASSOCIATION  FOR  COMMUNITY                                                                   
EDUCATION  spoke  against the  legislation.  She  distributed                                                                   
program  information   to  members  (copy  on   file).    She                                                                   
maintained that  the funding level estimates  provided by the                                                                   
Department  of  Education  and  Early  Development  were  not                                                                   
accurate and  included funding  for other programs.  She gave                                                                   
the example  that the  amount listed  for Juneau's  Community                                                                   
Schools' budget also included  funding for a before and after                                                                   
school  daycare  program,  which  was not  run  by  Community                                                                   
Schools.   She noted other errors  of up to $600  thousand in                                                                   
budget numbers reflected for various school districts.                                                                          
Ms. Kitka stressed  that Community Schools was  the one State                                                                   
program  with  the  potential  to reach  every  Alaskan.  She                                                                   
maintained  that the  program had  been fiscally  responsible                                                                   
and  had developed  partnerships to  facilitate funding.  She                                                                   
stressed that  the State  monies were  used to leverage  such                                                                   
partnerships.    She  explained  that  adult  programs  often                                                                   
subsidize  youth programs.  She emphasized  that the  program                                                                   
has resulted in 342,000 activity  hours logged, 464,300 youth                                                                   
served,  400,000  adults  served.    She  stressed  that  the                                                                   
212,000 hours  in volunteer  time was  valued at $3  million.                                                                   
She concluded  that this was an  excellent return on  a State                                                                   
investment of $500 thousand.                                                                                                    
In  response to  a  question by  Co-Chair  Harris, Ms.  Kitka                                                                   
explained  that not  all school  districts are  able to  fund                                                                   
community education.  She noted  that the program  provided a                                                                   
wide array  of education such  as childbirth classes,  summer                                                                   
school  classes, and  tutoring.  She noted  that the  classes                                                                   
were  offered  to  meet  community  needs  such  as  drivers'                                                                   
education, preschool  and before  and after school  childcare                                                                   
programs.  She  noted  that  federal   funding  (21   Century                                                                   
Program) was close to elimination.                                                                                              
In  response to  another  question  by Co-Chair  Harris,  Ms.                                                                   
Kitka explained  that fees support  larger programs,  such as                                                                   
adult education and  gym rentals.  She also noted  that, as a                                                                   
result of the  paid programs, other classes  could be offered                                                                   
at a reduced  rate, with the intention to provide  free youth                                                                   
Representative Hawker  observed that Anchorage  has extensive                                                                   
community  school  utilization.     He  estimated  that  with                                                                   
approximately  90,000 participants  in  the Anchorage  school                                                                   
program,  and  a grant  of  $151  thousand,  if each  of  the                                                                   
participants  paid $2 dollars  it would  more than  equal the                                                                   
grant. He asked  if that was a reasonable amount  to ask from                                                                   
program participants.                                                                                                           
Ms. Kitka  deferred to the  Anchorage school district  on the                                                                   
question.   She  expressed  that  her own  district  advisory                                                                   
committee  struggled  with how  much  if anything  to  charge                                                                   
youth  for  programs.   She  suggested  that the  amount  was                                                                   
relative to the needs of a community.                                                                                           
Representative  Croft asked  if the  numbers represented  any                                                                   
duplication. Ms.  Kitka noted  that people are  counted every                                                                   
time  they register.  Representative Croft  pointed out  that                                                                   
Anchorage  reflected  only  30  thousand  contact  hours  and                                                                   
suggested that  the fees  would have to  be more like  $5 per                                                                   
hour,  which  may  prevent  some   youth  from  participating                                                                   
regularly in a service such as an open gym.                                                                                     
SUSAN BURKE, JUNEAU, spoke in  opposition to the legislation.                                                                   
She maintained that there is no  reason to repeal authorizing                                                                   
statutes. She  suggested that the  funding level was  not the                                                                   
central  issue in regards  to the  legislation. She  observed                                                                   
that the funding decision had  already been made in the House                                                                   
Finance Committee.                                                                                                              
Ms. Burke  stressed that the true  issue at hand  was whether                                                                   
the Committee could honestly predict  that other legislatures                                                                   
would never  deem it appropriate  for the state of  Alaska to                                                                   
provide financial  support to community school  programs. She                                                                   
pointed out that appropriations  could not go forward without                                                                   
statutory authorization.                                                                                                        
Ms.  Burke  responded  to  the argument  that  the  level  of                                                                   
funding  has not  been  sufficient to  be  meaningful to  any                                                                   
school  district. She  suggested  that this  argument  should                                                                   
support additional  funding. She also spoke to  the idea that                                                                   
the statutes  have fulfilled their  purpose to  establish the                                                                   
programs. She pointed out that  while the statue does address                                                                   
the  initial  program  development,   it  also  suggests  the                                                                   
intention  to support  the  operation of  community  schools.                                                                   
She noted language  that suggests that operational  plans for                                                                   
each  program  should  be  evaluated  by  the  Department  of                                                                   
Education  and  Early  Development   every  four  years.  She                                                                   
concluded  that there  is  not enough  reason  to repeal  the                                                                   
Ms. Burke acknowledged  that funding levels change  from year                                                                   
to year and that this year's budget  was unusually difficult.                                                                   
She observed however  that no one had stated that  it was not                                                                   
proper  for  the  state to  support  community  schools.  She                                                                   
emphasized that financial times  and political leaders change                                                                   
and pointed  out the greater  difficulty of reinitiating  the                                                                   
program, as compared  to the lack of harm by  maintaining the                                                                   
statute. She noted  that the existence of the  statue did not                                                                   
obligate  the legislature  to appropriate  funds.  She  urged                                                                   
the Committee not to take action on HB 165.                                                                                     
JULIE   JONAS,  FOUR   VALLEYS   COMMUNITY  SCHOOL   PROGRAM,                                                                   
ANCHORAGE, testified via teleconference  in opposition to the                                                                   
legislation. She pointed out that  education funding is being                                                                   
significantly   reduced  and   emphasized  the   far-reaching                                                                   
community  benefits of  the  community schools  program.  She                                                                   
noted that the  Girdwood program sponsors soccer  and service                                                                   
learning programs.  She stated that there is  not a community                                                                   
center in  Girdwood, so the  community school  staff provided                                                                   
that  service.   She  urged  the  Committee   not  to  repeal                                                                   
authorizing  statues for  the  program, even  if funding  was                                                                   
reduced.  She  stressed that the community school  program is                                                                   
not just  an afternoon  school program.  She maintained  that                                                                   
community schools hold a community together.                                                                                    
REBECCA  REICHLIN,  GIRDWOOD,  spoke  via  teleconference  in                                                                   
opposition  to the  legislation.  She stressed  that  funding                                                                   
goes  a long  way and  is  well used.  She  noted that  state                                                                   
funding is used to leverage other  local support.  She listed                                                                   
a  number of  programs supported  by  their community  school                                                                   
program,  including:   childcare,  adult  education,  student                                                                   
activities,  tutoring,  volunteer  opportunities,  and  youth                                                                   
services.  She stressed  that  the program  was  increasingly                                                                   
important  at   this  time  to  support   youth,  educational                                                                   
standards, and  emergency preparedness.   She encouraged  the                                                                   
legislature to identify  sources of income as  well as reduce                                                                   
spending  in order  to balance  the  budget.   She urged  the                                                                   
Committee not to repeal the statute.                                                                                            
JODY LIDDICOUT,  ANCHORAGE, testified  via teleconference  in                                                                   
opposition  to  the legislation.  She  noted  that  community                                                                   
schools  are  behind  many  of  the  events  that  serve  her                                                                   
children. She  stressed the  number of volunteers  associated                                                                   
with the  program and emphasized  the huge value for  a small                                                                   
amount of funding.                                                                                                              
DEBBIE  BOGART,   DIRECTOR,  COMMUNITY  SCHOOLS,   ANCHORAGE,                                                                   
testified   via   teleconference   in   opposition   to   the                                                                   
legislation.  She   responded  to  questions   raised  during                                                                   
earlier  testimony.   She stated  that  the Anchorage  School                                                                   
District  supports Community  Schools  remaining in  statute,                                                                   
with   modified  intent   language   that  includes   ongoing                                                                   
Ms. Bogart pointed  out that for 80 schools  in the district,                                                                   
there were  only thirteen community  school sites.  She noted                                                                   
that these  sites averaged one  thousand classes  per quarter                                                                   
offered,  as well  as children's  enrichment  programs.   She                                                                   
clarified that of the $1.3 million  in expenditures listed by                                                                   
DEED  for  her  district, only  $694  thousand  was  actually                                                                   
attributable to  Community Schools.  She also noted  that the                                                                   
district does  charge a user fee  ranging from $1 to  $6 [per                                                                   
class]  dollars. She  explained  that the  fees  are used  to                                                                   
repay  the  school  district  grant match,  as  well  as  for                                                                   
operations and  supplies. She also  noted that classes  pay a                                                                   
minimal wage to instructors.                                                                                                    
Ms. Bogart  discussed the level  of community  involvement in                                                                   
[Anchorage]  programs:  over  30,000 youth  and  over  28,000                                                                   
adults  participated, supported  by  27,000 volunteer  hours.                                                                   
She calculated  that if volunteer  hours were  compensated at                                                                   
$15  an  hour,  the in-kind  value  would  be  $400,000.  She                                                                   
pointed out that  communities were growing and  becoming more                                                                   
diverse.  She maintained  that  Community  Schools meets  the                                                                   
DEED  goal  of  providing  life-long  learning  and  provides                                                                   
needed community outreach. She  also noted that programs drew                                                                   
support  from individuals  without  children,  which in  turn                                                                   
helped to provide  funding for the school system.   She urged                                                                   
the Committee to keep Community Schools in statute.                                                                             
DARYL  FARRENS, HOMER  COMMUNITY  SCHOOL COORDINATOR,  HOMER,                                                                   
testified   via   teleconference   in   opposition   to   the                                                                   
legislation.  He  explained  that  the  philosophy  of  their                                                                   
community schools  program is  to make programs  available to                                                                   
anyone that wants to participate  and therefore fees are kept                                                                   
to a minimum.  He stated that with the $32  thousand received                                                                   
from the State, their program  operated nearly seven days per                                                                   
week.  He noted  that Homer raised 33 percent  of their total                                                                   
expenditures.    He stressed  that  a  cut in  funding  would                                                                   
dramatically  affect  the  amount and  quality  of  community                                                                   
programs offered.                                                                                                               
CURT LEDFORD,  DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY SCHOOLS,  SITKA, testified                                                                   
via  teleconference  in  opposition to  the  legislation.  He                                                                   
noted that his  district's community schools  program offered                                                                   
before and after school activities,  which served half of the                                                                   
community's  children. He  stated that  Sitka's program  does                                                                   
not  receive  district  funding.  He  pointed  out  that  the                                                                   
program  gave over $15,000  in scholarships  to children  for                                                                   
summer classes.                                                                                                                 
HB  165  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in  Committee   for  further                                                                   
TAPE HFC 03 - 56, Side B                                                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects