Legislature(2009 - 2010)HOUSE FINANCE 519

03/22/2010 09:00 AM FINANCE


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09:07:43 AM Start
09:07:52 AM HB297
10:44:59 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 297 POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HOUSE BILL NO. 297                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     "An   Act  establishing   the  governor's   performance                                                                    
     scholarship  program  and   relating  to  the  program;                                                                    
     establishing  the  governor's  performance  scholarship                                                                    
     fund  and relating  to the  fund;  relating to  student                                                                    
     records;  making conforming  amendments; and  providing                                                                    
     for an effective date."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:08:47 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LARRY  LEDOUX  COMMISSIONER,  DEPARTMENT  OF  EDUCATION  AND                                                                    
EARLY  DEVELOPMENT presented  an  overview of  the bill.  He                                                                    
asserted that  the Governor's Performance  Scholarship (GPS)                                                                    
sent out a statement  of expectation for academic excellence                                                                    
among students  statewide. He believed that  the scholarship                                                                    
would   generate   a   reformation  of   school   curriculum                                                                    
throughout  the state.  He relayed  that  the program  would                                                                    
save the state  money because kids would  be more successful                                                                    
in  school,  eliminating  the  requirement  for  remediation                                                                    
before  beginning preparation  for  a  higher education.  He                                                                    
emphasized  that  the  scholarship would  keep  students  in                                                                    
Alaska  for school/training,  which  could lead  to more  of                                                                    
them remaining in  state for the long  term. The scholarship                                                                    
requirements would  encourage students  to take  the courses                                                                    
necessary  to qualify,  and  would  then financially  assist                                                                    
students  who  wanted  to  pursue  a  higher  education.  He                                                                    
believed  that once  the  requirements  for the  scholarship                                                                    
were revealed;  parents, communities, and students  would be                                                                    
inspired  to   ask  the  questions,  and   do  the  planning                                                                    
necessary  for the  students to  be successful.  He believed                                                                    
that the scholarship would encourage  young people to attend                                                                    
college  in-state. The  purpose  of the  scholarship was  to                                                                    
improve  student performance  at  the high  school level  by                                                                    
insisting on a rigorous  curriculum that encouraged academic                                                                    
excellence.  He   furthered  that  graduation   rates  would                                                                    
increase under the  bill, and that students  would be better                                                                    
prepared for college level work.  He contended that students                                                                    
who engaged  in a  rigorous curriculum had  increased access                                                                    
to college  and career goals. The  scholarship program would                                                                    
be  open  to  public, private,  and  homeschooled  students.                                                                    
There  were  two  major  types  of  scholarships  under  the                                                                    
program;   academic  and   career/technical.  The   academic                                                                    
scholarship  consisted  of three  levels;  level  one was  a                                                                    
grade point average (GPA) of 3.5  or higher, level two was a                                                                    
GPA of  3.0 - 3.5,  and the third level  was 2.5 -  3.0. The                                                                    
career scholarship had a qualifying  level of a 2.5 GPA. The                                                                    
students  the   achieved  the  highest  level   of  academic                                                                    
scholarship  would be  eligible  for tuition,  based on  the                                                                    
2010 - 2011 school year, for  100 percent of 15 credits. The                                                                    
next level was rewarded 75  percent of the tuition coverage,                                                                    
and  the  third would  receive  50  percent assistance.  The                                                                    
career/technical  scholarship would  provide $3,000  for two                                                                    
years   of   study.   The  grade   criteria   for   academic                                                                    
scholarships  would require  schools to  measure performance                                                                    
through   an  algorithm   developed  by   the  school,   and                                                                    
standardized  test scores.  Students could  qualify for  the                                                                    
career/technical    scholarship    with    a    standardized                                                                    
achievement  test.  He  said  that  the  standardized  tests                                                                    
validated   the  students   GPA,  and   the  rigor   of  the                                                                    
curriculum.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:14:42 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Commission  LeDoux reiterated  that studies  had shown  that                                                                    
students who engaged  in a rigorous curriculum  of study for                                                                    
high school  were more successful  in college.  The required                                                                    
curriculum  in  the  GPS  scholarship   was  four  years  of                                                                    
English,  math,  and  science, and  three  years  of  social                                                                    
studies.   Qualifying  courses   for  the   career/technical                                                                    
scholarship  varied  slightly  from  the  academic.  College                                                                    
courses  would count  toward the  criteria  for meeting  the                                                                    
rigorous curriculum  requirement. Alternative  pathways were                                                                    
available for  students who faced  obstacles trying  to meet                                                                    
the scholarship  criteria. The alternative pathway  could be                                                                    
triggered  by  circumstances  beyond   the  control  of  the                                                                    
student, like if the required  classes were not available in                                                                    
their district.   A need  based component had been  added to                                                                    
the  GPS   program  that  would  ensure   that  the  student                                                                    
qualifying  for a  need based  scholarship as  determined by                                                                    
the Free Application for Federal  Student Aid (FAFSA), could                                                                    
receive up  to 50 percent of  the imminent need.   A minimum                                                                    
of $2,000 would need to be contributed by the student.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux  stated that if a  student qualified for                                                                    
an academic  scholarship, eligibility could be  retained for                                                                    
up to  six years, to  complete eight semesters.  This caveat                                                                    
would allow students to explore  colleges outside of Alaska,                                                                    
and still be eligible under  the program when they return to                                                                    
the state.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  LeDoux  relayed  that   the  GPS  allowed  for                                                                    
student to  attend college classes part-time.  The standards                                                                    
and qualifying  criteria were managed  by the  Department of                                                                    
Education  (DOE). The  Alaska  Commission on  Post-Secondary                                                                    
Education   was  responsible   for  the   daily  operations,                                                                    
disbursement  of  money,  and  monitoring  eligibility.  The                                                                    
Department  of   Labor  (DOL)  would  maintain   a  list  of                                                                    
certified technical  schools in  the state. The  high school                                                                    
that the  student graduated from would  certify eligibility.                                                                    
Money would  be appropriated into  the GPS account  from the                                                                    
expendable earnings  of the GPS  fund. The  commission could                                                                    
use funds from the account to pay scholarships.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:18:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough  wondered if,  in addition  to the                                                                    
scholarship  program,  the   credit  requirements  for  high                                                                    
school  graduation  should  be  increased  in  order  better                                                                    
prepare  students for  college  level classes.  Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux replied that in the  state of Alaska, local districts                                                                    
had  the responsibility  of setting  high school  graduation                                                                    
standards. Many  school districts  set criteria  beyond what                                                                    
the  state required.  He warned  that increasing  graduation                                                                    
requirements would cause a decrease  in the graduation rate.                                                                    
The  mission of  the  GPS  was to  invite  students to  work                                                                    
harder,  and  to  encourage  communities  to  offer  a  more                                                                    
intense curriculum.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Fairclough   asked   how   the   University                                                                    
Scholar's  Program was  funded. Commissioner  LeDoux replied                                                                    
that  the  program  was  funded  from  its  foundation,  and                                                                    
offered scholarships to  the top 10 percent  of every school                                                                    
in the  state; the amount  of $1,375 per semester  was given                                                                    
to the  student, for a total  of $11,000 over the  four year                                                                    
period.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough queried  the  number of  students                                                                    
who used the  university's scholarship program. Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux believed that  approximately 1000 students qualified,                                                                    
from  that, over  400  were elected  to  participate in  the                                                                    
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough  questioned if the  department had                                                                    
examined  the   consequences  of  instituting   a  competing                                                                    
scholarship  program.  Commissioner  LeDoux  explained  that                                                                    
there  were  differences  between   the  two  programs.  The                                                                    
students in the  top 10 percent were measured  by their GPA,                                                                    
which does not indicate whether  or not the student has been                                                                    
subject  to  a  rigorous  curriculum.  The  GPS  required  a                                                                    
validating standardized test  that confirmed the curriculum.                                                                    
The participation  in a rigorous  curriculum, as  defined by                                                                    
the  GPS,  had been  well  established  as an  indicator  of                                                                    
success  in college.  In spite  of the  many different  ways                                                                    
that  schools  graded  students,  the GPA  was  the  highest                                                                    
predictor  of  college  graduation.   He  assumed  that  the                                                                    
statistic existed  because it takes  work and  commitment to                                                                    
maintain a high GPA in high school.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:22:13 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough asked if  the GPS could be applied                                                                    
to the Washington, Alaska,  Montana, Idaho Medical Education                                                                    
Program  (WAMI).   Commissioner  LeDoux  replied   that  the                                                                    
student  would  have  eight semesters  of  eligibility  that                                                                    
could  be  used within  the  six  year  window, to  pay  for                                                                    
college courses.  If the student had  a baccalaureate degree                                                                    
and was engaged in a  medical program with eligibility years                                                                    
left, the  program would provide  to help pay  expenses. The                                                                    
program  was designed  to custom  fit Alaskan  students, who                                                                    
tended  to   be  non-traditional  in  their   college  going                                                                    
culture.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:22:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Salmon  cited Page 11 of  the legislation and                                                                    
requested further  explanation of  the unmet  need component                                                                    
of the program.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
DIANE BARRANS,  EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,  POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION                                                                    
COMMISSION,  DEPARTMENT  OF  EDUCATION, explained  that  the                                                                    
scholarship  from  the state  was  intended  to be  a  "last                                                                    
dollar  award",  which  meant  that  the  students  cost  of                                                                    
attendance was  established, and then reduced  by the number                                                                    
amount  of  any  non-loan  aid they  may  qualify  for.  The                                                                    
scholarship relative to their  ability was then applied. The                                                                    
unmet need  supplement was intended  to split  the remaining                                                                    
cost of attendance, above the  $2000 minimal buy in required                                                                    
of  the student.  She  offered to  provide  a schedule  that                                                                    
would illustrate the actual numbers.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Representative Salmon  referred to  Page 9  of the  bill. He                                                                    
noted   that   the   classes  necessary   to   fulfill   the                                                                    
requirements for eligibility were  difficult for students in                                                                    
rural areas  to access.  He wondered  how students  in rural                                                                    
areas were expected  to take the necessary  classes, in four                                                                    
years time, when the classes were not regularly available.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux acknowledged  that there were challenges                                                                    
to providing the  program to rural areas. He  said that many                                                                    
schools had  participated in distance teaching  programs. He                                                                    
asserted  that distance  programming  had  evolved over  the                                                                    
years, and that web-based  programming, where students could                                                                    
interact  online  with  a   highly  qualified  teacher,  was                                                                    
available.  The  department  had  found  that  some  schools                                                                    
offered the  curriculum required for all  four years through                                                                    
distance  programming. He  warned that  if communities  were                                                                    
going to urge children to  dream big, without delivering the                                                                    
programming necessary  to assure  the child's  success, then                                                                    
the students  would be  set up  for failure.  The GPS  was a                                                                    
demand that schools  reform, and that schools  that were not                                                                    
offering four  years of math or  science begin to do  so. He                                                                    
opined  that  statistics  showed   that  young  people  were                                                                    
leaving high  school for university  and not  succeeding. He                                                                    
stated that  discussions with school  superintendents across                                                                    
the  state indicated  that most  schools  could deliver  the                                                                    
curriculum required by the program.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:28:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman  requested further  discussion  of                                                                    
the  implementation  of  the required  curriculum  in  rural                                                                    
areas.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux  explained that the GPS  would be phased                                                                    
in  over a  four 4  year period.  The department  understood                                                                    
that schools would need time  to redirect their resources in                                                                    
order  to meet  the curriculum  needs. The  department would                                                                    
work with  struggling districts to ensure  their success. He                                                                    
said that there  was a working group that  had begun meeting                                                                    
in the summer of 2009,  to help facilitate virtual education                                                                    
in  the  state.  The  department was  prepared  to  issue  a                                                                    
request  for  proposals (RFP)  to  help  design the  virtual                                                                    
education  program  that  would   be  necessary  to  deliver                                                                    
quality instruction  across the state. The  department would                                                                    
collect  data to  present  to the  legislature  on a  yearly                                                                    
basis in  order to monitor  the program. The  department was                                                                    
prepared  to stand  ready to  assist all  districts to  take                                                                    
advantage  of  the  program. He  asserted  that  many  small                                                                    
schools  around  the  state were  delivering  a  challenging                                                                    
curriculum, and that  the GPS program would  inspire all the                                                                    
schools in the state to adopt similar curriculum.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:33:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman expressed  concern that the program                                                                    
would not  be supported by  all districts in the  long term.                                                                    
He  asked where  the information  could be  found concerning                                                                    
which schools were already working  to provide a challenging                                                                    
curriculum. Commissioner  LeDoux shared that  the department                                                                    
had  access  to  a  database that  contained  a  significant                                                                    
amount  of analysis  information. He  assured the  committee                                                                    
that  documentation of  the  information  would be  provided                                                                    
upon request.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:34:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan understood  that  the program  served                                                                    
two purposes; in one way, it  was a vehicle to get money for                                                                    
college  to students,  and secondly,  it was  an attempt  to                                                                    
increase  the  curriculum  in high  schools  throughout  the                                                                    
state.  Commissioner  LeDoux   replied  the  department  was                                                                    
interested in achieving both.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Doogan  pointed   out  that   the  required                                                                    
curriculum  was  just that:  required.  He  argued that  one                                                                    
could  not  be  done  without   the  other.  There  was  the                                                                    
possibility  that  in order  for  a  school to  provide  the                                                                    
classes required  by the scholarship the  current curriculum                                                                    
would have to be changed.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan referred  to the  fiscal note,  which                                                                    
reflected what the program would  cost the state in terms of                                                                    
the  scholarships.  He  wondered   what  it  would  cost  to                                                                    
institute  the  required  curriculum   in  all  the  schools                                                                    
throughout state.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux did not know  what the cost to the state                                                                    
would  be. He  relayed that  in  order for  every school  to                                                                    
achieve the goals set out  by the program, a community would                                                                    
need  to be  established among  educators and  students that                                                                    
would work  together towards a common  vision of excellence.                                                                    
He believed  that the GPS  was important because  it invited                                                                    
students to  work harder, earlier in  their academic career.                                                                    
He  thought  that  urging from  parents  and  educators  for                                                                    
students  to consider  and plan  their  academic future,  as                                                                    
early as the 6th grade, was  key to making the program work.                                                                    
He explained that there were  many things that could be done                                                                    
to  achieve the  department's dream  for Alaska's  students,                                                                    
and that they did not  all involve money. He maintained that                                                                    
the  educational goals  could  be achieved  by working  with                                                                    
early  learning   programs,  middle   school  interventions,                                                                    
developing  robust   career  and  technical   programs,  and                                                                    
removing any obstacles  between secondary and post-secondary                                                                    
education. He  stated that  the interface  between secondary                                                                    
and  post-secondary education  was dissolving.  The GPS  was                                                                    
important because it invited parents  and student to be part                                                                    
of   the  dream   of   higher   education.  Simply   raising                                                                    
requirements would  only tell students what  they "have" to,                                                                    
rather  than what  they  are capable  of  doing. Offering  a                                                                    
scholarship  for  work  done well  presented  a  pathway  to                                                                    
college, especially for low income students.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:38:58 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  expressed concern that was  no way to                                                                    
estimate  how much  it  would cost  to  prepare schools  for                                                                    
implementing  the curriculum  required  by  the program.  He                                                                    
voiced that he supported the  intent of the legislation, but                                                                    
needed to know  how much it would  cost. Commissioner LeDoux                                                                    
responded  that the  question was  difficult  to answer.  He                                                                    
believed  that  many  of  the  necessary  reforms  could  be                                                                    
completed  with funds  that the  department  already had.  A                                                                    
realignment  of  resources  would  be  needed  in  order  to                                                                    
develop a  quality statewide virtual  school in  the future,                                                                    
which could add to the cost.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan  requested further explanation  of the                                                                    
alternative  pathway  written  into the  bill.  Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux explained the alternative  pathway provided a way for                                                                    
students   to  overcome   barriers  in   their  path   to  a                                                                    
scholarship.  If the  required classes  were not  offered in                                                                    
the student's school, or if  there were circumstances beyond                                                                    
the student's  control that hindered  their ability  to take                                                                    
the  required curriculum,  the student  could  apply to  the                                                                    
Commissioner  of Education  for  an  alternative pathway  to                                                                    
meet the necessary criteria.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Doogan  asked   for   an   example  of   an                                                                    
alternative pathway.  Commissioner LeDoux responded  that if                                                                    
there  was  a  family  emergency,  or if  a  class  was  not                                                                    
available to  the student  during the  qualification period,                                                                    
the student could apply for  extra time in which to complete                                                                    
the requirements.                                                                                                               
9:42:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Thomas  asked for  a  definition  of an  Alaskan                                                                    
resident, under the legislation.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Barrans replied  that  Page 6,  lines  7-8 referred  to                                                                    
residency under AS 01.10.055, which  defines a resident as a                                                                    
person with the ability to  vote as an Alaskan resident. The                                                                    
requirement can be met after 30 days in-state.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Thomas   expressed  concern   that  out-of-state                                                                    
students would move to Alaska  only to take advantage of the                                                                    
scholarship, thereby creating  more competition for students                                                                    
who were born here, or had  lived here well over 30 days. He                                                                    
suggested  that residency  could  be  established under  the                                                                    
requirements of  the Alaska  Permanent Fund  Dividend, which                                                                    
requested at least two years residency.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair  Stoltze deduced  that DOL  should contemplate  the                                                                    
issue  and  provide  recommendations to  the  committee.  He                                                                    
queried how  the department intended to  establish residency                                                                    
requirements  by regulation.  Commissioner LeDoux  responded                                                                    
that the  actual statute  allowed the  residency requirement                                                                    
of 30  days. The State  Board of Education could  modify the                                                                    
requirement,  and residency  requirements for  programs vary                                                                    
throughout  the country.  The legal  advice received  by the                                                                    
department  had  recommended  leaving  the  requirements  as                                                                    
currently written in the bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair   Thomas  asked   how   many  schools   districts                                                                    
currently offered  the curriculum needed to  qualify for the                                                                    
program. Commissioner LeDoux  responded that the information                                                                    
was  broken down  by school,  and could  be provided  to the                                                                    
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Thomas added that he  was sure some schools would                                                                    
qualify, but  others could take  two or three years  to meet                                                                    
curriculum demands. He asserted  that the program should not                                                                    
go into effect  until all schools in the state  were able to                                                                    
provide   the  required   curriculum.  Commissioner   LeDoux                                                                    
agreed.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative Thomas  asked if a student  could qualify for                                                                    
the  university scholarship  and the  governor's scholarship                                                                    
simultaneously.     Commissioner     LeDoux    said     yes.                                                                    
Representative Thomas pointed out  to the committee that the                                                                    
university  scholarship was  funded by  the university,  and                                                                    
the governor's was funded through general funds.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Thomas  wondered if Mount Edgecumbe  School could                                                                    
be  used  as  the  educational vehicle  for  students  whose                                                                    
districts did not qualify.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair  Thomas  questioned  why the  scholarships  could                                                                    
only  be  used  at  in-state schools.  He  noted  that  some                                                                    
University  Alaska programs  had  limited enrollment,  which                                                                    
forced  students  to  seek  the  programs  out-of-state.  He                                                                    
wondered  if   any  exceptions  could  be   made  for  those                                                                    
students.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:50:37 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux responded that  there were no allowances                                                                    
in the  bill as  currently written for  students to  use the                                                                    
scholarship outside of Alaska.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair Thomas argued that  if an in-state university did                                                                    
not  provide  the training  that  the  student wanted,  they                                                                    
should be able to take  the scholarship money and go outside                                                                    
of Alaska  to attend the  program they desire.  He mentioned                                                                    
the $3,000  cap for career/technical scholarships  and noted                                                                    
that  in   his  district,  trade  skills   were  of  greater                                                                    
practical use than academic achievements.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:52:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  stated that the department  should examine                                                                    
loan   forgiveness   numbers   versus  the   cost   of   the                                                                    
scholarships to the state.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Fairclough  asked   if  the   state's  exit                                                                    
examinations   aligned   with    college   entrance   exams.                                                                    
Commissioner  LeDoux replied  no. He  added that  the Alaska                                                                    
High  School  Graduation  Exit  Exam  standards  were  based                                                                    
minimum competency  and did not align  with college entrance                                                                    
exams.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough inquired  if the  graduation exam                                                                    
was  a baseline  for a  college entrance  exam. Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux did not  believe so. He believed  that the graduation                                                                    
exam measured minimum competency and  was not intended to be                                                                    
a college readiness exam.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough  suggested that an  alignment with                                                                    
the  college  exam   could  benefit  students.  Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux thought that it would be  great for the state to have                                                                    
college and career readiness exams  at the junior level that                                                                    
would inform  students and parents of  potential performance                                                                    
at the college  level. Many students in Alaska  took the SAT                                                                    
and the  ACT, but  it was not  required for  graduation. The                                                                    
new   national   standards   would   require   a   different                                                                    
accountability system  in regard  to college  readiness. The                                                                    
department  was currently  examining  ways  to raise  school                                                                    
based  assessments (SBA)  to  ensure  students were  college                                                                    
ready upon graduation.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough opined  that the  graduation test                                                                    
was not  a determinate  for college readiness.  She wondered                                                                    
if the  students that passed  the test believed that  it was                                                                    
an indication  of college preparedness.  Commissioner LeDoux                                                                    
supposed  that many  students believed  that the  graduation                                                                    
exam represented  something significant, but because  it was                                                                    
a high  stakes exam, and  students graduated based  on their                                                                    
score,  it  was  traditionally a  minimum  competency  exam.                                                                    
Otherwise, not  enough students would graduate,  which would                                                                    
lead  to political  fallout. He  stated  that several  years                                                                    
ago,  by legislative  action, the  criteria for  passing the                                                                    
exam had been  lowered. He believed that  a non-high stakes,                                                                    
comprehensive exam  at the junior level,  would provide good                                                                    
feedback to  parents, specifically  because it was  not high                                                                    
stakes,  and  it  was  not  determinate  on  graduation.  He                                                                    
asserted that such an exam  was necessary for accountability                                                                    
concerning the money currently being spent on education.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Fairclough   stated  that   teachers   were                                                                    
teaching  to  the criteria  on  the  graduation test,  which                                                                    
seemed   counterproductive.   She   asked  again   if   WAMI                                                                    
qualified.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:57:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Barrans said that WAMI  would qualify for the first year                                                                    
of  the program,  while the  student was  a resident  on the                                                                    
University of  Alaska Anchorage campus. She  elaborated that                                                                    
if  the  student  spent the  majority  of  subsequent  years                                                                    
training  in  a graduate  medical  program  in Alaska;  that                                                                    
would qualify as well.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough asked  if  the  expectation of  a                                                                    
$2000 contribution  from the student was  collected annually                                                                    
or by semester.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Barrans  replied that it  was on  a per year  basis. The                                                                    
amount  that  the student  was  expected  to contribute  was                                                                    
based on the FAFSA, would  either be $2,000, or the Expected                                                                    
Family  Contribution (EFC)  based on  income. If  the family                                                                    
was  expected  to  contribute  $4,000  based  on  the  FAFSA                                                                    
calculation, $4,000  would be the minimum  contribution. She                                                                    
relayed that more data on  the issue could be made available                                                                    
to the committee.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Fairclough    asked   if   there    was   a                                                                    
differentiation  between  a   career/technical  path  and  a                                                                    
college   path.  She   also   queried   the  definition   of                                                                    
extensions, and  how they would  be established  in statute.                                                                    
She also queried the qualifications of a part-time student.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:01:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux  responded that a part  time student was                                                                    
a student  earning between 6  and 11 credits at  a qualified                                                                    
institution.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Representative Fairclough asked how  a student who was part-                                                                    
time could qualify for  the scholarship. Commissioner LeDoux                                                                    
clarified that he was referring  to a college age, part-time                                                                    
students.  Commissioner  LeDoux   said  that  the  extension                                                                    
mentioned on  Page 7,  Line 14, would  be granted  to people                                                                    
who qualified for the scholarship  who were in the military;                                                                    
so that  they could  apply and received  extra time  for the                                                                    
time they served in the military.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough   wondered  about   students  who                                                                    
qualified  that  suffer  a medical  emergency.  Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux believed  that an extension  could be granted  by LAW                                                                    
through  regulations  established  by  the  state  board  of                                                                    
education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:03:53 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  commented on  the issue of  the graduation                                                                    
exam.  He  asserted  that the  exam  measured  the  remedial                                                                    
proficiency  of   a  student   graduating  from   an  Alaska                                                                    
Kindergarten through  12th grade  institution. He  said that                                                                    
the graduation  test had  been adopted  with the  purpose of                                                                    
placing  a  minimum value  on  a  high school  diploma,  not                                                                    
college readiness.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Fairclough offered  that  the students  that                                                                    
took  the test  were not  aware that  it was  not a  college                                                                    
level exam.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  countered that  that was  one of  the many                                                                    
failings  of  the school  district,  not  the Department  of                                                                    
Education.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
10:05:50 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule  said that  one  of  the ways  that  a                                                                    
student  could  lose eligibility  was  to  not maintain  the                                                                    
required GPA. He  wondered if there would be  a grace period                                                                    
for the  student's GPA during  the transition  into college.                                                                    
Commissioner  LeDoux  responded  that  there  was  no  grace                                                                    
period. The  student would have  to pay for, and  complete a                                                                    
semester on  their own  in order  to regain  eligibility and                                                                    
meet the criteria.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule  believed  that  a  grace  period  was                                                                    
critical  for students  during the  first semester,  as that                                                                    
was not normally  a time when students did  their best work.                                                                    
He thought that  the incentive to keep  the scholarship into                                                                    
the second semester would compel  the student to work harder                                                                    
to  improve performance.  He believed  that  a grace  period                                                                    
would illustrate faith in the student's abilities.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule  furthered  that he  would  appreciate                                                                    
more dialogue about non-traditional  students. He asked what                                                                    
the  department   considered  the   definition  of   a  non-                                                                    
traditional student,  and based on that  definition, whether                                                                    
those students were covered  under the program. Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux  understood that  a  non-traditional college  student                                                                    
was a student  who does not go to college  even thought they                                                                    
qualified, and  who chose to explore  other life experiences                                                                    
prior  to going  to college.  Many non-traditional  students                                                                    
attend  school for  a  time and  then  moved onto  something                                                                    
else. He reiterated that the  scholarship provided six years                                                                    
of  assistance to  complete the  eight  semesters, and  that                                                                    
most scholarship  programs required  that the  student enter                                                                    
college  directly after  high school.  He  shared that  many                                                                    
parents in the state prefer that their child travel out-of-                                                                     
state for a year before  beginning college, just to see what                                                                    
it is  like. The program  was designed  so that there  was a                                                                    
degree of  opportunity for non-traditional  students, within                                                                    
the six year period, to explore what they want to do.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule clarified  that  the  program was  for                                                                    
individuals who  wanted to attend  college within  six years                                                                    
of graduating  from high  school. Individuals  who postponed                                                                    
college to work or raise  children, would not have access to                                                                    
the  scholarship  six  years post  graduation.  Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux replied in the affirmative.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Joule   thought  that   some  of   the  most                                                                    
successful  stories from  the outlying  areas  of the  state                                                                    
involved  people who  figured out  much later  in life  what                                                                    
their academic  goals were. He opined  that that demographic                                                                    
would not be provided an opportunity under the legislation.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:12:34 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Kelly  emphasized  that  the  program  would                                                                    
require  substantial  state  funding.  He  wondered  if  the                                                                    
program was  the department's  highest funding  priority. He                                                                    
probed the measurable success of  the scholarship program in                                                                    
other   states.   Commissioner   LeDoux  replied   that   he                                                                    
department was  operating according  to the  state education                                                                    
plan, and under  the belief that success was  the outcome of                                                                    
doing many  things. The  three top  areas he  was personally                                                                    
interested in  were; making  sure that  kid's could  read by                                                                    
2nd  grade,   that  a  quality   career/technical  education                                                                    
program was established  in the state, and that  the arts be                                                                    
embraced to a greater extend  in schools. He added that high                                                                    
schools in  the state look  like they  did 50 years  ago and                                                                    
needed to  change. He believed that  the scholarship program                                                                    
was particularly important because  it affected the attitude                                                                    
for students and  parents. The program was  one component of                                                                    
a comprehensive plan to help young  people who want to go to                                                                    
college move in that direction.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:15:37 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  noted that Ryan Buchholdt,  a student from                                                                    
UAA, had comprised a comprehensive  list of similar programs                                                                    
around the country (copy on file).                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  LeDoux  relayed  that the  program  in  Alaska                                                                    
differed  in  that it  provided  for  broad opportunity  for                                                                    
student to participate. He hoped  that by inviting C average                                                                    
students to  apply for  the scholarship,  students with  a D                                                                    
average or lower  would be inspired to work  harder in order                                                                    
to  qualify.  Research  had shown  that  taking  a  rigorous                                                                    
curriculum  in high  school ensured  success in  college. He                                                                    
thought that the  program would be the  catalyst to offering                                                                    
the required classes in schools throughout the state.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Vice-Chair   Thomas   wondered   if   scholarship   benefits                                                                    
increased as  the student's GPA  rose at the  college level.                                                                    
Commissioner LeDoux  replied that the scholarship  was based                                                                    
only on high school performance.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
10:18:45 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman queried  the cost,  and amount  of                                                                    
work, necessary  to bring  every school in  the state  up to                                                                    
the   program's   curriculum   and   technology   standards.                                                                    
Commissioner LeDoux replied that  that analysis had not been                                                                    
done. He  said strongly that there  was not a school  in the                                                                    
state  that could  not  offer the  courses  required by  the                                                                    
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Representative Austerman  assumed that the  department would                                                                    
be assessing  schools to determine  if they were  capable of                                                                    
providing the required  curriculum. Commissioner LeDoux said                                                                    
that  the  department  had done  an  analysis  of  statewide                                                                    
correspondence  schools, all  of  which  had indicated  that                                                                    
they  had  the  full   capability  to  deliver  the  courses                                                                    
anywhere in Alaska.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman understood  that schools  that did                                                                    
not already  offer the required curriculum  would eventually                                                                    
be  pressured  by  students and  parents  to  institute  the                                                                    
requisite courses.  He expresses  a lack of  confidence that                                                                    
all schools in  the state would relent to  the pressure, and                                                                    
wondered if  there was language  in the bill to  insist that                                                                    
schools  offer the  classes. Commissioner  LeDoux said  that                                                                    
there was  nothing in bill  required the schools  to provide                                                                    
the course, but maintained  that given the opportunity, most                                                                    
schools  were  up  to  the task  of  providing  the  program                                                                    
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Austerman  maintained   disbelief  that  all                                                                    
schools  would embrace  the program.  He requested  that the                                                                    
department do  the math regarding realigning  the funding in                                                                    
each district in  order to accommodate the  program. He also                                                                    
called  for   more  discussion  on  the   30  day  residency                                                                    
standard. Finally,  he wondered how community  colleges were                                                                    
viewed in the program.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:23:34 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux  replied that students who  achieved the                                                                    
scholarship  could attend  any regionally  certified college                                                                    
in the state.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:24:25 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Salmon  asked if  there  would  be a  review                                                                    
period  for the  program. Commissioner  LeDoux relayed  that                                                                    
there was  an implementation of  4 years for the  program in                                                                    
an attempt  to give  schools and  students time  to prepare.                                                                    
The department  hoped to  implement the  program in  time to                                                                    
serve the graduating class of 2011.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Salmon cited  Page 21, Line 26,  of the bill,                                                                    
which  defined  the  commissioner  as  the  Commissioner  of                                                                    
Revenue.  However,  several  other pages  referred  to  "the                                                                    
commission". He  opined that there  was no  clear definition                                                                    
for  "the commission".  He did  not understand  how the  two                                                                    
commissions were  separated. Ms. Barrans explained  that the                                                                    
terms  were  defined in  statute.  To  understand, a  person                                                                    
would have to look up where  the section resides in law. For                                                                    
instance, the majority of the  language fell under AS 14.43,                                                                    
which  was   a  student  financial  aid   program  in  which                                                                    
"commission"   was  already   defined.  In   AS  14.42   the                                                                    
commission was identified as an  entity that administers the                                                                    
financial  aid  programs. She  said  that  the language  was                                                                    
contextually correct.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Representative   Salmon  expressed   frustration  that   the                                                                    
definitions  were unclear.  Ms.  Barrans  rebutted that  the                                                                    
terms were defined within statute.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:27:18 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JERRY  BURNETT, DEPUTY  COMMISSIONER, DIVISION  OF TREASURY,                                                                    
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, explained  that the definition of the                                                                    
Commissioner  of  Revenue  found  under  AS  37.14.790,  was                                                                    
specific to the management of the fund set up in the bill.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan supposed  that a  student could  come                                                                    
into Alaska in  time to establish residency  (30 days), then                                                                    
take  4   years  of  college   and  leave  the   state  upon                                                                    
graduation.  He highlighted  that there  was no  requirement                                                                    
that  the  student  undergo the  curriculum  of  the  Alaska                                                                    
school  system, or  remain in  the  state after  graduation.                                                                    
Commissioner LeDoux said that that was correct.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan  asked  the   value  of  the  highest                                                                    
scholarship  available. Commissioner  LeDoux shared  that it                                                                    
was approximately $5000 for 15 credits.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan asked  how  much the  needs based,  C                                                                    
average  student  could  expect   to  receive.  Ms.  Barrans                                                                    
replied that the  state aid for a student with  a C average,                                                                    
who received  full PELL  grant awards,  would be  $6,700 per                                                                    
year.  The   bill  as  currently  written   had  a  required                                                                    
student/family contribution of $2,000.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan  understood  that  a  high  achieving                                                                    
graduate,  whose parents  were  millionaires, could  receive                                                                    
$5,000. A  student with a  lower GPA, whose parents  were at                                                                    
the low-income level, would get  $2,378. Ms. Barrans replied                                                                    
that  that  was incorrect.  She  reiterated  that the  lower                                                                    
income, C  level student would  get $6,700, as a  high needs                                                                    
student. In the bill there  was a state supplemental portion                                                                    
for unmet  needs that was paid  for by the state,  and would                                                                    
bring the total aid to $6,700.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Doogan maintained  as confusion and requested                                                                    
further explanation.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Barrans   directed  attention   to  Page   11,  Section                                                                    
14.43.828:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Sec. 14.43.828. Eligibility for an unmet need                                                                              
scholarship supplement  and maximum  awards. (a)  Subject to                                                                    
appropriation,  the commission  shall  award  an unmet  need                                                                    
scholarship   supplement  to   a  student   who  meets   the                                                                    
eligibility criteria for the award.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     (b) A student is eligible to receive an unmet need                                                                         
scholarship supplement if the student                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
          (1) is eligible for a merit-based academic                                                                            
               scholarship or a merit-based career and                                                                          
               technical school scholarship; and                                                                                
          (2) can demonstrate, in a year in which the                                                                           
               student receives a scholarship, that the                                                                         
               student has unmet financial need greater                                                                         
               than $2,000.                                                                                                     
     (c) The maximum amount for an unmet need scholarship                                                                       
supplement is  50 percent of  the unmet financial  need that                                                                    
exceeds $2,000.                                                                                                                 
     (d) The qualified postsecondary institution attended                                                                       
by  the  student shall  determine  unmet  financial need  by                                                                    
subtracting from  the student's allowable standard  costs of                                                                    
attendance  at  the  institution  all non  loan  sources  of                                                                    
financial    support,   including    an   expected    family                                                                    
contribution   and   all   federal,   state,   and   private                                                                    
scholarships or grants received by the student.                                                                                 
     (e) In this section,                                                                                                       
          (1) "allowable standard costs of attendance"                                                                          
means                                                                                                                           
               (A) for a student who receives a merit-based                                                                     
academic scholarship, the lesser of the                                                                                         
                    (i) standard costs of attendance at the                                                                     
University of Alaska, as determined by the commission; or                                                                       
                    (ii) actual costs of attendance at the                                                                      
qualified   postsecondary  institution   that  the   student                                                                    
attends   or  plans   to  attend,   as  determined   by  the                                                                    
commission;                                                                                                                     
               (B) for a student who receives a merit-based                                                                     
career  and  technical  school   scholarship,  the  cost  of                                                                    
attendance at  the qualified postsecondary  institution that                                                                    
the student  attends or  plans to  attend, as  determined by                                                                    
the  commission  based  on  room  and  board  costs  at  the                                                                    
University of Alaska as determined by the commission;                                                                           
          (2) "expected family contribution" means the                                                                          
amount a student or the  student's family is expected to pay                                                                    
toward the  student's cost of  attendance, as  determined by                                                                    
use of the most recent  federal Free Application for Federal                                                                    
Aid.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Barrans added that the  largest per student payout under                                                                    
the  legislation was  for the  middle  income family.  Those                                                                    
families  fall out  of the  eligibility for  PELL and  other                                                                    
federal  aid, and  yet their  ability  to contribute  family                                                                    
income was minimal.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:34:22 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Doogan insisted  that the  way in  which the                                                                    
numbers were  calculated for the unmet  need scholarship was                                                                    
perplexing.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:35:06 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  said that the  home school program  in the                                                                    
state  had been  highly  successful. He  asserted that  home                                                                    
schooled students already  possessed the academic motivation                                                                    
that  the  department  was  attempting  to  instill  in  all                                                                    
students via  the legislation. He  voice strong  support for                                                                    
the home school  program in the state and promised  to be an                                                                    
advocate for it throughout the process.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:36:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara expressed  concern  that  parts of  the                                                                    
bill  rewarded students  born into  privilege, and  who were                                                                    
underachievers, while doing nothing  for students who had no                                                                    
means, and  were over achievers.  He did not think  that the                                                                    
lure of  a scholarship was  going to make  academically lazy                                                                    
students  work  harder.  Commissioner  LeDoux  said  that  a                                                                    
student who  was an underachiever, whose  parents were going                                                                    
to pay  for college anyway,  would probably not  be affected                                                                    
by the invitation to receive a GPS.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara  argued that  the program  criteria left                                                                    
out  many   different  types  of   students  who   could  be                                                                    
successful if they had financial help.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux believed that  the program was an invite                                                                    
to  students to  work hard  in preparation  for their  dream                                                                    
career.  He contended that  integral to the program were the                                                                    
meetings  that  must  initially take  place  early  on  (6th                                                                    
grade) between  parents, students, and schools.  Because the                                                                    
program included  a needs based component,  parents would be                                                                    
assured that, regardless of their  economic level, there was                                                                    
an accessible financial pathway  to college for their child.                                                                    
He asserted  that the program  directly targeted  the people                                                                    
Representative Gara had indicated.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  thought  that students  whose  parents                                                                    
were not involved in working  to ensure the student took the                                                                    
right  courses  to qualify  for  the  scholarships were  not                                                                    
considered in  the language  of the  bill. He  believed that                                                                    
the  bill  as  written  presented a  pretense  that  certain                                                                    
students did not  exist. He argued that  there were children                                                                    
whose  parents were  not involved  in  their education,  who                                                                    
would work  hard and  only end up  with a  General Education                                                                    
Diploma  (GED), that  would go  on  to succeed  in life.  He                                                                    
thought  that those  students should  be rewarded  through a                                                                    
provision in the bill.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux stated  that one of the  purposes of the                                                                    
program was to engage parents  early so that they were aware                                                                    
of the opportunities that were  available to their children.                                                                    
He acknowledged that students who  achieved a GED did so for                                                                    
a  variety of  reasons,  and  that it  was  not always  poor                                                                    
choices  on  the  part  of  the  student.  Some  states  had                                                                    
recognized  this  and  had  created   a  pathway  for  those                                                                    
students to  go to college.  He disagreed that  all students                                                                    
who acquired a  GED did do because they did  not receive the                                                                    
support  that  they  needed  to  graduate  high  school.  He                                                                    
believed the  scholarship program would improve  the flow of                                                                    
information necessary for the success of all students.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze  wondered where class distinction  had been                                                                    
discussed in the bill.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner LeDoux  maintained that the GPS  program was an                                                                    
invite to all  students. He warned that if  students did not                                                                    
have   accountability   for    their   actions,   and   take                                                                    
responsibility  for   their  choices,  they  would   not  be                                                                    
successful   in  life.   The  GPS   asked  students   to  be                                                                    
accountable   to  make   good  choices,   to  consider   the                                                                    
importance  of choices,  and  to  do so  early  on in  their                                                                    
academic careers.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara asked if the  department could provide a                                                                    
proposal for  what was  done in other  states to  provide an                                                                    
alternative  pathway for  student who  grew up  with limited                                                                    
parental guidance, but who had college potential.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Commissioner  LeDoux  shared  that   there  was  a  Hathaway                                                                    
Scholarship  available to  students that  had earned  a GED.                                                                    
Information on the scholarship could  be found on Page 15 of                                                                    
the response  to questions packet  in the bill  folder (copy                                                                    
on  file). He  related  that the  information  had not  been                                                                    
broken  down into  legal language  that would  fit into  the                                                                    
bill as  an amendment, but  if the committee  requested such                                                                    
language he would provide it.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:43:55 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara  requested the  language.  Commissioner                                                                    
LeDoux   said   that   he   would   provide   language   for                                                                    
consideration.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Representative Gara cited  Page 8, Line 16,  which defined a                                                                    
C plus  average as nothing  less than  a 2.5 GPA.  He argued                                                                    
that a 2.5 GPA was a flat C, and not a C plus average.                                                                          
Commissioner LeDoux responded that a C plus was defined on                                                                      
the 4. scale as a GPA between a 2.5 and a 3.0.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:44:59 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Stoltze concluded that the bill required further                                                                       
discussion.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CSHB 297 (EDC) was HEARD and HELD in Committee for further                                                                      
consideration.                                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
22 Taylor plan programs an analysis[1] HB 297.doc HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
GPS CSHB297 Sectional Analysis.doc HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
HB297CS(EDC)-DOLWD-WIB-03-16-10.pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
HB 297 ACPE response[1].pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
HB 297 Documents.pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
HB 297 material from EED[1].pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
HB 297GPS hearing notes and questions for LSL(2)[1].doc HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
StolzeHawker032310 HB 297.pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
CSHB297 - StoltzeHawker 3.22.10.pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM
HB 297
StolzeHawker032310.pdf HFIN 3/22/2010 9:00:00 AM