Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/22/2010 08:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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08:04:04 AM Start
08:04:30 AM SB224
08:57:02 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
               SB 224-POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS                                                                            
8:04:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER announced continued consideration of SB 224.                                                                     
SENATOR DAVIS  moved to table  CSSB 224,  Version S and  to adopt                                                               
the proposed  committee substitute  (CS) to  SB 224,  labeled 26-                                                               
GS2771\C, as  the working  document.   There being  no objection,                                                               
the motion carried and version C was before the committee.                                                                      
8:06:33 AM                                                                                                                    
At Ease                                                                                                                         
8:06:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER brought the meeting to order.                                                                                    
8:07:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MURRAY  RICHMOND, aide  to Senator  Thomas,  explained that  they                                                               
received  two committee  substitutes over  the weekend.  The most                                                               
recent is version C. Essentially  the CS reflects all the changes                                                               
the committee requested.                                                                                                        
The  first  change  is  the  name of  the  scholarship  from  the                                                               
"Governor's  Performance  Scholarship"  to  the  "Alaska  student                                                               
achievement scholarship fund,"  this change has been  made and is                                                               
consistent throughout the entire document.  The next change is on                                                               
page 6,  where the six  month clause on lines  9 and 12  has been                                                               
reinserted.  On  lines  18-22,  the  six  year  clause  has  been                                                               
Page  7,  line  6,  reflects  the  next  change  where  the  word                                                               
"commission" has replaced "department."  Because the career track                                                               
has been reintroduced,  page 7, lines 11, 12, 15  and 18, reflect                                                               
the reintroduction of the academic track.                                                                                       
Page 8,  line 3 the language  on the three award  levels has been                                                               
cleaned up. Line 26 (bottom of page  8 and all of page 9) inserts                                                               
the career track.  The curriculum has remained the  same for both                                                               
tracks;  however, unlike  the academic  track,  the career  track                                                               
does  not include  a tier  award system.  Instead a  student must                                                               
have a  C plus  average in  order to be  eligible for  the career                                                               
scholarship.  It is  also limited  to $3000.00.  The exam  can be                                                               
either the  ACT or  SAT or  another designated  standardized exam                                                               
selected by DEED (like WorkKeys).                                                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS observed  that on  page 9,  lines 8-9,  the fine                                                               
arts and  cultural heritage component  has been removed  from the                                                               
MR. RICHMOND answered that it disappeared in this version.                                                                      
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked  Mr. Richmond where the  fine arts component                                                               
would fall under.                                                                                                               
MR. RICHMOND answered  that the language was dropped  out of this                                                               
version inadvertently. He  can make a note to  have it reinserted                                                               
or have a conceptual amendment to that effect.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked if there was any reason to drop it.                                                                        
JOMO  STEWART, aide  to Senator  Meyer, answered  that there  had                                                               
been some discussion about whether  fine arts would be considered                                                               
an elective or a social studies credit.                                                                                         
MR.  RICHMOND  said he  thinks  under  the second  core  academic                                                               
curriculum  requirements  (B)  [page  9, lines  10-16]  where  it                                                               
discusses  two years  of  foreign language  as  a necessary  core                                                               
requirement. That language in version  S, also included fine arts                                                               
and  cultural heritage,  however, the  intent was  to have  it be                                                               
strictly  a foreign  or Alaska  Native language.   When  the fine                                                               
arts and cultural heritage component  was taken out of the second                                                               
set of curriculum  requirements (B) it was also taken  out of the                                                               
first set of core academic curriculum requirements (A).                                                                         
He  continued on  page  10,  lines 4-18,  the  CS  cleans up  the                                                               
language  of  the  three  award  tiers. It  also  adds,  per  the                                                               
committee's  wish,  that the  approved  tuition  awarded for  the                                                               
program will be equal to the  tuition at the University of Alaska                                                               
for  the 2010-2011  school year.   It  also stresses  the minimum                                                               
test scores on college entrance exams for each of the tiers.                                                                    
He pointed  out that line  19-21, which  has been a  concern, has                                                               
remained  in  the CS  whereby  a  student  who qualifies  for  an                                                               
academic scholarship  can use their  award to attend  a qualified                                                               
career and technical program instead.                                                                                           
On  line 23-24  the language  has been  changed from  a half-time                                                               
student receiving their award "pro  rata" to "50 percent" [of the                                                               
Lines 25-27  is the  six-year termination  date. This  means that                                                               
after  six years,  with the  exception of  waivers from  the DEED                                                               
(previously   defined   as   military   service),   a   student's                                                               
scholarship would be terminated.                                                                                                
8:16:00 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   HUGGINS    asked   about   delineation    between   the                                                               
responsibility of the ACPE and DEED.                                                                                            
MR.  RICHMOND answered  that  he would  like  the commission  and                                                               
department to speak on this.                                                                                                    
He continued on to line 28  there was a change in statute because                                                               
of previous changes and that has  been reinserted. On line 29 the                                                               
12 semester timeline was changed to eight semesters.                                                                            
Beginning  on page  10,  line 31  the CS  now  limits the  career                                                               
scholarship to  two calendar years.  It also adds that  a student                                                               
may  not receive  both an  academic  and a  career and  technical                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS  recalled  in  an  earlier  discussion  that  an                                                               
individual  in  a  vocational  program   could  also  attend  the                                                               
University  of Alaska.   He  asked whether  this means  that they                                                               
cannot do this. He isn't objecting  to the cap, but believes that                                                               
students should be given that opportunity.                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR MEYER said that the  administration will address Senator                                                               
Huggins' question.                                                                                                              
MR. RICHMOND  continued on page  11, lines  18-22, the CS  puts a                                                               
cap on the financial need's language.  It means that if a student                                                               
is  going to  school  part  time they  cannot  get the  full-time                                                               
needs-based award.                                                                                                              
The next change is located  on page 14 and redefines "commission"                                                               
(ACPE) and "department" (DEED).                                                                                                 
On  page 20,  per Ms.  Barrans'  request, the  language has  been                                                               
changed on  the commission's ability  to "service"  the financial                                                               
aid instead of "guaranteeing."                                                                                                  
Finally,  on  page  22,  line   11,  they  changed  the  date  of                                                               
eligibility from  September 1, 2010  to January 1, 2010  to allow                                                               
for June 2010 graduates to participate in the program.                                                                          
8:21:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER  invited Diane Barrans  to address the  changes in                                                               
the  CS that  she has  concerns about  and answer  questions that                                                               
have emerged from the committee.                                                                                                
DIANE   BARRANS,  Executive   Director,   Alaska  Commission   on                                                               
Postsecondary Education  (ACPE), said she  does have a  couple of                                                               
On  page  7, line  19  and  line 25,  she  thinks  the phrase  "a                                                               
combination of" could  be interpreted as ambiguous  and should be                                                               
deleted. She  suggested, further,  that on line  18, "one  of the                                                               
following" should also be deleted.                                                                                              
8:25:53 AM                                                                                                                    
LARRY  LEDOUX, Commissioner,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (DEED),  said he does  not think it would  change the                                                               
bill to add fine arts as an option.                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR MEYER asked if that would be added on line 30.                                                                         
COMMISSIONER LEDOUX answered that "fine  arts" should be added on                                                               
page 7, lines 23 and 30.                                                                                                        
8:27:10 AM                                                                                                                    
DIANE  BARRANS pointed  out that  on  page 11,  lines 20-23,  the                                                               
attempt is to  cap the amount a half-time person  can receive. It                                                               
should read:                                                                                                                    
       (1) not less than full time, is 50 percent of the                                                                        
     unmet financial need                                                                                                       
Continuing, on line 22, it should read:                                                                                         
      (2) less than full time but not less than half time,                                                                      
     is 25 percent of the unmet financial need                                                                                  
She recapped  Senator Huggins'  question about  the ability  of a                                                               
career  scholarship  student  to  use  that  scholarship  at  the                                                               
University of Alaska  (page 11, lines 1-3). She  answered that it                                                               
could be used there but only for a certificate program.                                                                         
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked, on page  10, line 27, who  is responsible                                                               
for  determining whether  a student  qualifies for  a scholarship                                                               
MS. BARRANS  answered that the  DEED would set  out circumstances                                                               
that would  qualify certain students  for an extension  and would                                                               
regulate it as well. This  would include circumstances outside of                                                               
military extension which is mandated within the bill.                                                                           
8:31:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS joined the meeting                                                                                              
MS. BARRANS  continued on to  page 11,  line 29 through  page 12,                                                               
line  4. She  said in  discussing how  they would  administer the                                                               
needs-based scholarship, they propose  the following amendment be                                                               
used in this section:                                                                                                           
     Allowable  standard costs  of  attendance  means for  a                                                                    
     student   who   receives  a   merit-based   performance                                                                    
     scholarship  the  lesser  of:   (A)  standard  cost  of                                                                    
     attendance at  the University  of Alaska  as determined                                                                    
     by the commission  or (B) actual cost  of attendance at                                                                    
     the  qualified   postsecondary  institution   that  the                                                                    
     student  attends or  plans to  attend as  determined by                                                                    
     the commission.                                                                                                            
This is an  all encompassing definition that would  apply to both                                                               
the academic and career and  technical scholarship. The effect is                                                               
to cap the  cost of attendance and to provide  a benchmark to the                                                               
cost at the University of Alaska.                                                                                               
SENATOR DAVIS asked  if the language she is  proposing is already                                                               
in the House version.                                                                                                           
MS. BARRANS  said the  structure of the  House bill  is different                                                               
enough that this precise language is not in there.                                                                              
She continued that the last comment  she has is on the transition                                                               
language on  page 22,  lines 11-13, which  she suggests  should e                                                               
amended to say:                                                                                                                 
     may  apply for  a scholarship  on or  after January  1,                                                                    
     2011, for  enrollment in a  program or  study beginning                                                                    
     on or after July 1, 2011                                                                                                   
She  explained  that  the  reason  for this  change  is,  from  a                                                               
practical standpoint, so  that a student has  a reasonable amount                                                               
of time to  apply for their financial  aid and be ready  to go by                                                               
May  or June  of 2011.  Delaying a  student's application  could,                                                               
actually, take them out of the running for funds that year.                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER  said they will make  these suggestions conceptual                                                               
amendments  to the  CS.  The  only issue  now  is  the fine  arts                                                               
requirement of  the CS which  would have to  be added on  pages 7                                                               
and 9.                                                                                                                          
8:37:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  said they  had  some  town hall  meetings  this                                                               
weekend  and  people  asked  why  this program  is  not  a  "loan                                                               
program" with a forgiveness provision.                                                                                          
MS.  BARRANS   answered  that  the  state's   experience  with  a                                                               
forgivable loan is that there  were some unintended consequences.                                                               
First, students  always borrowed  the maximum  amount but  due to                                                               
the high  attrition rate  in the program  the default  rates were                                                               
high. They are  still trying to collect some of  those loans from                                                               
a program  that ended 20  years ago.  She is also  concerned that                                                               
typically  in first  generation college  attendees they  are debt                                                               
averse and do not take advantage  of it. She thinks the effect of                                                               
the program would be adversely  affected by this. Also, there was                                                               
an entire  industry in postsecondary education  institutions that                                                               
sprang up  during that very  generous program, very few  of which                                                               
8:40:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER  drew the committee's attention  to the conceptual                                                               
amendments at hand.                                                                                                             
SENATOR DAVIS moved conceptual Amendment 1 as follows:                                                                          
                     Conceptual Amendment 1                                                                                 
     Page 6, lines 12-17 to read:                                                                                             
     B)graduated,  or  will  graduate  not  later  than  six                                                                    
     months after the  date of the application,  from a high                                                                    
     school  outside   of  the  state   under  circumstances                                                                    
     allowed  by  the  department;   for  purposes  of  this                                                                    
     subparagraph,   allowable   circumstances   include   a                                                                    
     circumstance in which  a high school student  who is an                                                                    
     Alaska resident  has attended high school  in the state                                                                
     and has left the state  because of the military service                                                                
     of  the student's  custodial parent  who  is an  Alaska                                                                    
     Page 6, lines 18-22 to read:                                                                                             
     (3)  will receive  and use,  while an  Alaska resident,                                                                
     the scholarship at  qualified postsecondary institution                                                                    
     in  the  state  not  later than  six  years  after  the                                                                    
     beginning of  the first school  year after  a student's                                                                    
     graduation  from   high  school,  unless   the  student                                                                    
     qualifies  for  an extension  of  time  allowed by  the                                                                    
     department; for  purposes of this  paragraph, standards                                                                    
     for extension of  time must include time  not more than                                                                
     two additional  years while the student  is in military                                                                
     service; and                                                                                                               
MS.  BARRANS said  that  currently  in the  CS  if  a student  is                                                               
dependent on a  military person they can be out  of state for the                                                               
entire period  of their secondary  program. In addition  to that,                                                               
the period  of extension  that is allowed  for a  military person                                                               
has no time  limit to it.   For example, in the current  CS, if a                                                               
person returns to the state after  20 years of service, when they                                                               
return to the state they remain  entitled to the program. This is                                                               
different than  what the house  version has done,  which requires                                                               
that a  student have attended  at least  two years of  their high                                                               
school in the state and they  have capped the period of extension                                                               
for military service.                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR MEYER  asked how  the House  came up  with the  two year                                                               
MS. BARRANS replied that she thinks  it was based on the standard                                                               
minimum enlistment period.                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR MEYER thinks he likes the original verbiage.                                                                           
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked her,  in regards  to the  military service                                                               
extension after  high school, if  an individual graduated  from a                                                               
high school  in the state  and then  left the state  for military                                                               
service for  four years,  would that  individual be  eligible for                                                               
the program.                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS answered  that in  the CS,  version C,  there is  no                                                               
requirement that a student spend  any of their high school career                                                               
in the state  if they are dependent on  military person. Students                                                               
can also  enlist in the military  right after high school  and be                                                               
entitled to apply to the program at  any time as long as they are                                                               
serving  in  the  military.  This is  different  from  the  House                                                               
version in  that they require a  student to be in  high school in                                                               
the  state for  at least  two  years and  the entitlement  period                                                               
after high school is only extended  by two years. In the scenario                                                               
Senator  Huggins  described,  under   the  House's  version,  the                                                               
individual would  only have extended their  period of entitlement                                                               
by  two  years,  so  they  would  return  with  only  four  years                                                               
remaining of the scholarship.                                                                                                   
8:47:26 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS recommended they keep  it simple, but there needs                                                               
to  be some  affiliation with  the  state. He  prefers the  House                                                               
version  in that  regard  because students  will  be required  to                                                               
attend some  of their high school  career in the state.  He asked                                                               
Ms.  Barrans if  the state  is  bound by  law to  extend this  to                                                               
students that are residents of the state but are out of state.                                                                  
MS. BARRANS replied  that the House may  have discussed potential                                                               
legal  disputes  on that  issue.  She  deferred the  question  to                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS said  statistics seem to show that  a student who                                                               
attends college  in a state  stays in  that state, so  he doesn't                                                               
see this as a major issue.                                                                                                      
8:49:20 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HUGGINS  mentioned  it  because he  thinks  there  is  a                                                               
provision that allows a student,  whose guardian was killed while                                                               
in the service, to go to the University of Alaska at no cost.                                                                   
CO-CHAIR MEYER  said he thinks  they should withdraw  Amendment 1                                                               
for now.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR DAVIS moved to withdraw Amendment 1. It was so ordered.                                                                 
SENATOR DAVIS moved conceptual Amendment 2 as follows:                                                                          
                     Conceptual Amendment 2                                                                                 
     Page 7, lines 16-31, page 9 Lines 4-15:                                                                                  
     (1) the four year core academic curriculum, which may                                                                      
     include virtual curriculum, that student must have                                                                         
     completed in high school; the core academic curriculum                                                                     
     must include; [one of the following]                                                                                     
     (A) [a combination of]                                                                                                     
          (i)  four years of mathematics;                                                                                       
          (ii) four years of language arts;                                                                                     
          (iii)four years of science; and                                                                                       
          (iv) three years of social studies, one year of                                                                       
               which may include foreign language, or an                                                                        
               Alaskan  Native language, fine arts or                                                                         
               cultural heritage; or                                                                                          
     (B) [a combination of]                                                                                                     
          (i) three years of mathematics;                                                                                       
          (ii) four years of language arts;                                                                                     
          (iii) three years of science;                                                                                         
          (iv) four years of social studies; and                                                                                
          (v) two years of foreign language or Alaska                                                                           
              Native Language;                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR MEYER suggested that these are fairly simple changes                                                                   
represented by these amendments, but need some clean up. They                                                                   
will do that and bring them back on Wednesday.                                                                                  
[SB 224 was held in committee.]                                                                                                 

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