Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/23/2003 01:36 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."                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Williams  stated that public testimony  on this bill                                                                   
had concluded  at its  previous hearing.   He noted  that the                                                                   
bill would  repeal the Community  Schools grant  program, and                                                                   
observed that currently 80 percent  of schools in the program                                                                   
received grants of  roughly $5 thousand annually.   He stated                                                                   
that the  Administration viewed  the grant program  as having                                                                   
been intended  only to provide support to  initiate community                                                                   
schools  programs,  and  that  this  goal  had  already  been                                                                   
EDDY JEANS,  MANAGER, SCHOOL FINANCE AND  FACILITIES SECTION,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT  OF  EDUCATION  AND   EARLY  DEVELOPMENT  provided                                                                   
clarification on the bill.  He  responded to questions raised                                                                   
in previous testimony  about the spreadsheet  prepared by the                                                                   
Department  of Education  and  Early Development  ("Community                                                                   
Schools Expenditures  and Grants, Prepared 3/12/03",  copy on                                                                   
Mr.   Jeans  noted   that  the   spreadsheet  had   reflected                                                                   
expenditures   for  community  services.     He   provided  a                                                                   
departmental  regulation  definition of  community  services:                                                                   
activities  provided  by  the  school  or  district  for  the                                                                   
purpose  of relating  to the community  as  a whole, or  some                                                                   
segment of the  community, not directly related  to providing                                                                   
education   for  students.   He  listed   examples  such   as                                                                   
recreation, public libraries,  civic activities, public radio                                                                   
programs,  community  welfare  activities  and  childcare  in                                                                   
residential  day schools.   He quoted  the Community  Schools                                                                   
statute,  under  purpose  and   intent:    Community  Schools                                                                   
promotes more efficient use of  school facilities through the                                                                   
extension  of  buildings  and  equipment  beyond  the  normal                                                                   
schools  day. He  explained  that the  Department  aggregated                                                                   
expenditures  for  activities   that  occurred  "outside  the                                                                   
normal  school   day"  in  preparing   the  figures   in  the                                                                   
spreadsheet.   He pointed out  that there is a  separate fund                                                                   
called  "community  schools",  where  districts  deposit  the                                                                   
grant  and  matching  funds  for   the  specific  purpose  of                                                                   
Community  Schools programs.   The  spreadsheet had  included                                                                   
expenditures  for all  community  services and  not just  for                                                                   
community schools.                                                                                                              
Representative  Croft asked  if  the total  of $500  thousand                                                                   
reflected all  community services or just  community schools.                                                                   
Mr. Jeans  confirmed that this  amount represented  the total                                                                   
grants  provided to  schools.   He  noted  that the  previous                                                                   
column (Community  Schools FY02  Expenditures) reflected  all                                                                   
community  services,  and not  just  functions  of the  grant                                                                   
Co-Chair Harris observed that  the areas most affected by the                                                                   
legislation  were  rural areas.    Mr. Jeans  clarified  that                                                                   
these areas reflected 100 percent  funding of programs by the                                                                   
grant  funds.     He  maintained  that  these   schools  were                                                                   
accounting  for some of  their operating  costs elsewhere  in                                                                   
their budgets.                                                                                                                  
Co-Chair Harris noted that in  rural communities, the schools                                                                   
were the center of community activity,  whereas larger cities                                                                   
had other  options  for activities.   He asked  if any  means                                                                   
existed  to lessen  the effect  on rural  communities of  the                                                                   
resulting decrease in availability of facilities.                                                                               
Mr. Jeans speculated  that the facilities would  remain open.                                                                   
He submitted that  a grant of $1,500 would not  keep a school                                                                   
open  for a  significant  period.   He  suggested that  other                                                                   
resources were already being used to support activities.                                                                        
Co-Chair Harris asked  that the fiscal note  which reflects a                                                                   
savings of $500 thousand be zero  since it was already zeroed                                                                   
out of the budget.                                                                                                              
Mr.  Jeans   stated  that   the  Department  had   previously                                                                   
acknowledged that  the program was zeroed out  in the budget,                                                                   
but agreed to prepare a new fiscal note.                                                                                        
Representative Hawker observed  that the State recognizes and                                                                   
encourages  the continuation of  community schools  programs.                                                                   
He pointed  out, however, that  by repealing sections  of the                                                                   
statute  it takes  away  the State's  authority  to fund  the                                                                   
program in  the future, even  though the funding  had already                                                                   
been taken out of the State's budget for FY 04.                                                                                 
Mr. Jeans acknowledged  concern that the bill  would diminish                                                                   
districts'  ability  to  continue   their  community  schools                                                                   
programs.   He maintained  that districts  would continue  to                                                                   
offer community schools programs.   He acknowledged that user                                                                   
fees might be slightly increased to accommodate grant cuts.                                                                     
Co-Chair Harris MOVED  to report HB165 out of  Committee with                                                                   
individual recommendations  and the accompanying  zero fiscal                                                                   
note.  Representative Croft OBJECTED.                                                                                           
Representative  Hawker also OBJECTED.   He acknowledged  that                                                                   
the funding was already zeroed  out, but stated that he would                                                                   
be more comfortable  supporting communities who  rely on this                                                                   
program by retaining  the option to consider  possible future                                                                   
funding.  He would like to see the statute maintained.                                                                          
Representative  Croft pointed out  that there was  no funding                                                                   
saved  by  passing  the  legislation,  since  the  action  of                                                                   
eliminating funding  had already been taken  in the operating                                                                   
budget.  He took exception to  the sponsor statement that the                                                                   
statute was intended  merely to start the program  and not to                                                                   
maintain  it.    He noted  programs  like  the  school  lunch                                                                   
program, which  would be damaged if funding  diminished after                                                                   
the program had  been established.  He also  gave examples of                                                                   
reading  and tutorial  programs in  Anchorage and  maintained                                                                   
that  the small  amount of  [community  schools] funding  was                                                                   
doing  a great  deal  of good.   He  noted  that the  statute                                                                   
reflected   support  of   the  program,   and  that   it  was                                                                   
appropriate for the legislature  to provide a small amount of                                                                   
financial incentive for these valuable programs.                                                                                
TAPE HFC 03 - 61, Side B                                                                                                        
Representative  Whitaker questioned  the  purpose of  passing                                                                   
the  legislation, since  funding had  already been  cut.   He                                                                   
maintained that the action would serve no purpose.                                                                              
Co-Chair Williams  concurred with the Administration  that to                                                                   
repeal  the  legislation  was   a  housekeeping  measure.  He                                                                   
suggested   that  future  legislatures   could  enact   other                                                                   
legislation  if the  ability and  need to  fund the  programs                                                                   
Vice-Chair  Meyer  asked  for   further  explanation  of  the                                                                   
Administration's support of the bill.                                                                                           
Mr. Jeans  relayed the funding  history of the bill,  and the                                                                   
statutory  entitlement  of  the   program.    He  noted  full                                                                   
funding-  of  the program  would  entail  $3.2 million.    He                                                                   
stated  that  the  program  had been  funded  at  under  $800                                                                   
thousand  since 1988.   He observed  that the  intent of  the                                                                   
statute  was to implement  programs that  would later  become                                                                   
self-sufficient.    He  submitted   that  the  Administration                                                                   
ceased to provide  operational funding to the  program in the                                                                   
mid  1980's.   Funding levels  had  been prorated  down to  a                                                                   
level  as  low as  $1,500.    He suggested  that  unless  the                                                                   
legislature   was   willing   to  fund   the   program,   the                                                                   
Administration felt  it was time to take the  statute off the                                                                   
A roll call vote was taken on the motion.                                                                                       
IN FAVOR:      Meyer, Moses, Whitaker, Chenault, Foster,                                                                        
               Williams, Harris                                                                                                 
OPPOSED:       Stoltze, Croft, Hawker                                                                                           
The MOTION PASSED 7-3.                                                                                                          
CSHB  165  (HES)  was REPORTED  out  of  Committee  with  "no                                                                   
recommendation"  and   a  new  zero  fiscal   note  from  the                                                                   
Department of Education and Early Development.                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects