Legislature(2013 - 2014)

2014-01-24 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

2014-01-24                     House Journal                      Page 1433
HB 278                                                                                                                        
HOUSE BILL NO. 278 by the House Rules Committee by request of                                                                   
the Governor, entitled:                                                                                                         
     "An Act increasing the base student allocation used in the formula                                                         
     for state funding of public education; repealing the secondary                                                             
     student competency examination and related requirements;                                                                   
     relating to high school course credit earned through assessment;                                                           
     relating to a college and career readiness assessment for secondary                                                        
     students; relating to charter school application appeals and                                                               
     program budgets; relating to residential school applications;                                                              
     increasing the stipend for boarding school students; extending                                                             
     unemployment contributions for the Alaska technical and                                                                    

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     vocational education program; relating to earning high school                                                              
     credit for completion of vocational education courses offered by                                                           
     institutions receiving technical and vocational education program                                                          
     funding; relating to education tax credits; making conforming                                                              
     amendments; and providing for an effective date."                                                                          
was read the first time and referred to the Education and Finance                                                               
The following fiscal note(s) apply:                                                                                             
1.  Zero, Dept. of Education & Early Development                                                                                
2.  Indeterminate, Dept. of Revenue                                                                                             
3.  Fiscal, Dept. of Education & Early Development                                                                              
4.  Fiscal, Dept. of Education & Early Development                                                                              
5.  Fiscal, Dept. of Education & Early Development                                                                              
6.  Fiscal, Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                              
7.  Fiscal, University of Alaska                                                                                                
The Governor's transmittal letter dated January 23, 2014, follows:                                                              
"Dear Speaker Chenault:                                                                                                         
Alaska's future depends on the educational opportunities we provide to                                                          
our children, and we must continue to raise the bar for all students so                                                         
they are well prepared for success. Under the authority of Article III,                                                         
Section 18 of the Alaska Constitution, I am transmitting a bill that                                                            
supports family involvement and improves student achievement. No                                                                
one knows better how to help a student succeed than his or her own                                                              
family. The measures in this bill will increase opportunity for families                                                        
to make wise choices regarding their student's education, ensure that                                                           
the essential needs of Alaska's students are met, provide flexibility in                                                        
assessment of achievement and the earning of necessary educational                                                              
credits to suit an individual student's needs, and incentivize broader                                                          
opportunities for students as they prepare to enter Alaska's workforce.                                                         
Charter School: Increased Opportunities                                                                                       
Alaska's current charter school law is one of the most restrictive in the                                                       
nation. This bill would remove barriers that currently prevent                                                                  
opportunities for charter schools to be expanded. Local school districts                                                        

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have sole authority to approve or deny charter school creation. Under                                                           
the measures of the bill, an applicant would have an avenue of appeal                                                           
through the Commissioner of Education and Early Development if the                                                              
application is denied by a local school board. The appeal option would                                                          
provide additional oversight to ensure fairness in the charter school                                                           
application process, and provide opportunity to replicate schools with                                                          
proven records of success instead of forcing students to remain on                                                              
waiting lists.                                                                                                                  
This bill will also ensure that all funding will follow a charter school                                                        
student for the purpose of determining a charter school budget. As                                                              
charter school students are already a part of the public school system,                                                         
the additional provision regarding the funding is intended to enhance                                                           
parity between charter and traditional neighborhood schools.                                                                    
Residential School Application and Stipend                                                                                    
The bill will also remove barriers for providing more residential                                                               
schools for our rural students and encourage the private sector to                                                              
support this successful model. The bill would require that the                                                                  
Department of Education and Early Development open an annual                                                                    
application period for new residential schools to expand opportunity                                                            
for districts to offer this option to students and their families. Current                                                      
law does not indicate how often an application period will be opened.                                                           
The bill would also increase the stipend allowed for room and board                                                             
for residential schools. This stipend was increased in the 2013                                                                 
legislative session, but still does not cover the actual costs of                                                               
residential schools, and the bill is an effort to close the gap.                                                                
Tax Credit Contributions to Residential School Housing and                                                                    
The bill would provide corporate income tax credit for cash                                                                     
contributions made for the construction, operation, or maintenance of                                                           
residential school housing facilities. Taxpayers could also receive                                                             
credit if they provide funding to a nonprofit organization that awards                                                          
scholarships to dual-credit students - high school students who                                                                 
simultaneously receive college and high school credit for a course.                                                             
The tax credits offered under this bill are intended to encourage a                                                             
public-private partnership directed toward improving educational                                                                
opportunities in Alaska.                                                                                                        

2014-01-24                     House Journal                      Page 1436
Increasing the Base Student Allocation                                                                                        
This bill will provide for a three year plan to increase State funding                                                          
through the base student allocation (BSA) formula. The allocation has                                                           
not been raised since 2011; however, during that time, funding for fuel                                                         
and utility costs has been provided outside the formula as those costs                                                          
fluctuate - that funding is already included in my FY2015 budget. The                                                           
proposed BSA increase recognizes that instructional costs have also                                                             
gone up and that a modest increase will provide relief to school district                                                       
budgets in support of delivering quality education to Alaska's                                                                  
students. I welcome the Legislature's consideration of these                                                                    
fundamental needs.                                                                                                              
Alaska Career and Technical Education Program                                                                                 
In order to provide continued opportunity and choice to students as                                                             
they prepare for the workforce, this bill would reauthorize through                                                             
2024 the Alaska technical and vocational education program, also                                                                
known as career and technical education, which under existing statute                                                           
is authorized only through June 30, 2014. The bill aims to encourage                                                            
institutions receiving financing through the career and technical                                                               
education program to offer courses that permit high school students to                                                          
earn dual credit upon course completion.                                                                                        
Competency Exam Repeal                                                                                                        
This bill would repeal the requirement of AS 14.03.075 that secondary                                                           
students pass a competency examination, also known as a High School                                                             
Graduation Qualifying Examination, as a prerequisite for receiving a                                                            
high school diploma. Based on the State's experience with the                                                                   
competency examination to date, little is being gained from use of the                                                          
test, despite its significant cost in terms of funding, and staff and                                                           
student time lost to instruction. Due to robust accountability measures                                                         
that have been put in place since the competency exam was originally                                                            
enacted, it is time to offer our students a more effective option.                                                              
Students would instead be required to take a college and career                                                                 
readiness assessment to qualify for a high school diploma. "College                                                             
and career readiness assessment" would be defined in the statute as the                                                         
SAT, ACT, or WorkKeys assessment. No minimum score would be                                                                     
designated. Rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of the                                                                   
competency exam, these assessment options provide data that allow                                                               
schools and districts to more accurately gauge effectiveness of their                                                           

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training and educational programs relative to student readiness for                                                             
post-secondary opportunities and also provide valuable information                                                              
for students and their families to plan successfully for those                                                                  
opportunities. The Department of Education and Early Development                                                                
would provide funding for a single administration of a readiness                                                                
assessment for each secondary student, allowing students to choose                                                              
which assessment best meets their individual goals. Because these                                                               
assessments are already used as qualifying assessments for the Alaska                                                           
Performance Scholarship (APS), every high school student will have                                                              
opportunity for his or her achievement to be evaluated for APS,                                                                 
without additional cost to students and their families.                                                                         
Course Credit Earned by Assessment                                                                                            
This bill would require that a school district provide a high school                                                            
student an opportunity to "test out" of a class. The requirement would                                                          
apply to classes offered in the school in mathematics, language arts,                                                           
science, social studies, and world languages. The student would prove                                                           
mastery through a district-approved assessment and receive academic                                                             
credit for the class toward his or her graduation. This change would                                                            
encourage students who have the skills to advance more quickly                                                                  
through the high school curriculum and broaden the range of classes                                                             
available to them, while allowing teachers to invest more fully in                                                              
students who have not yet mastered the subject at hand.                                                                         
Ensuring that Alaska's students are adequately prepared for post-                                                               
secondary education, training, and the workforce is paramount for a                                                             
bright future, as is increasing the number of options available for each                                                        
family to make the right educational choices to suit each student. I                                                            
urge your prompt and favorable consideration of this bill.                                                                      
Sean Parnell