Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/10/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 291 STIPEND FOR BOARDING SCHOOLS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 245 SCHOOL FUNDING: REQ'D LOCAL CONTRIBUTION TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+= HB 278 EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
- Discussion Focused on Residential Boarding
School Stipend
                                                                                                                                
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
              HB 291-STIPEND FOR BOARDING SCHOOLS                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:42:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
a concurrent  hearing of HOUSE  BILL NO. 278, "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                                                               
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;" and                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO.  291, "An Act increasing the  stipend for boarding                                                               
school students; and providing for an effective date."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:43:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development  (EED), explained  that one  section of  HB 278                                                               
requires the department to open  an annual application period for                                                               
residential schools.  It does  not guarantee establishment of new                                                               
facilities,  but   identifies  an  area  for   consideration  and                                                               
assessment.   The final step  for opening a  residential facility                                                               
requires the legislature to allocate funding.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:44:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS recalled introduction of  a previous bill, which did                                                               
not  include language  establishing an  open application  period,                                                               
and asked if this is a new approach.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE  said it  is a  new component,  to establish  an annual                                                               
routine open application period for new residential schools.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:45:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH   SWEENEY  NUDELMAN,   Director,  School   Finance  and                                                               
Facilities   Section,   Department   of   Education   and   Early                                                               
Development  (EED),  said HB  278  increases  the amount  of  the                                                               
stipend paid  to the  existing residential  facilities; dedicated                                                               
to the offset of student room  and board.  The current nine month                                                               
stipend  in  southeast  is  raised  from $820  to  $1,230.    The                                                               
intention  is to  cover costs  that go  beyond what  is currently                                                               
reimbursed in  the stipend.   She reported  that the  fiscal note                                                               
reflects a  rate increase of  $2.2 million; bringing  the program                                                               
cost  to a  total of  $6.7  million.   To a  question from  Chair                                                               
Gattis,  she  said that  400-500  students  are covered  in  this                                                               
total, with the break out provided on the fiscal note.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:47:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  questioned  the  transportation  provided                                                               
during the school year, and  asked what happens with students who                                                               
remain at a facility during a holiday period.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE said  that  the state  operated  boarding school,  Mt.                                                               
Edgecombe,  budgets  one  round  trip  ticket  per  student,  for                                                               
arrival at  the beginning of  the school  year and return  at the                                                               
conclusion.  Parents are required  to make arrangements for their                                                               
child when  the facility  closes for winter  break.   He reported                                                               
that  during other  school breaks,  activities are  continued for                                                               
those students who remain.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS asked  whether the stipend increase  will affect the                                                               
state operated school.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE replied,  no, and  pointed out  that Mt.  Edgecombe is                                                               
funded under the state budget.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:49:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  noted that  the state boarding  school has                                                               
always  required parents  to pay  travel costs  and asked  why it                                                               
should be handled differently for other residential programs.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE deferred commenting on  residential programs not run by                                                               
the state.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. NUDELMAN  interjected that  the intention is  to pay  for the                                                               
student to arrive at the beginning  of the school year and return                                                               
home  at the  end.   During the  course of  the year,  the family                                                               
would be responsible for any travel costs.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX suggested  that  legal  should review  the                                                               
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:52:11 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 8:52 a.m. to 8:53 a.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
[The committee returned its attention to  HB 278 and HB 291 later                                                               
in the hearing.]                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
              HB 291-STIPEND FOR BOARDING SCHOOLS                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:55:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS returned the committees  attention to the concurrent                                                               
hearing  of HOUSE  BILL  NO.  278, "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  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;" and  HOUSE BILL  NO. 291,                                                               
"An Act increasing the stipend  for boarding school students; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH   SWEENEY  NUDELMAN,   Director,  School   Finance  and                                                               
Facilities   Section,   Department   of   Education   and   Early                                                               
Development  (EED),  said,  regarding boarding  schools,  HB  278                                                               
proposes  no  change  to transportation,  but  does  indicate  an                                                               
increase in the stipend to cover existing expenditures.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:55:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  recalled  that  last  year  saw  this                                                               
funding  doubled   and  said  it   appears  that  HB   278  would                                                               
effectively   be  tripling   the   allocation,   and  asked   for                                                               
justification.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. NUDELMAN said  the change last year was to  make permanent an                                                               
earlier  rate  change that  had  included  a  sunset date.    The                                                               
residential rates have remained the  same for multiple years, and                                                               
last year  the sunset was removed.   The increase proposed  in HB
278 reflects the actual expenditure costs.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:58:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS remembered  the funding  legislation, which  passed                                                               
from   committee   in  2013,   being   reduced   by  half   under                                                               
consideration of the House Finance Committee.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development (EED), concurred.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:59:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD asked  what  the  increase is  primarily                                                               
targeted to cover.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. NUDELMAN responded that the  increase is for the stipend that                                                               
supports the  24 hour  home at  the residential  facility.   To a                                                               
follow-up she said  the costs have been on a  steady increase but                                                               
the reimbursement allocations to districts have not kept pace.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD requested  information regarding specific                                                               
local contribution totals by area.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE offered to provide the information to the committee.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:03:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JERRY  COVEY, Education  Consultant, Cook  Inlet Tribal  Council,                                                               
provided information on  the 126, small rural  high schools, most                                                               
of which are not  on the main road system.   He reported: 71 have                                                               
10  or  fewer pupils;  34  report  11-20;  and 21  enroll  21-30;                                                               
totaling 1,286  students.  Residential  programs serve  about 700                                                               
of  these students,  primarily in  the  variable length  programs                                                               
where  students relocate  for a  portion of  the school  year and                                                               
attendance  resides   with  their   home  district   for  funding                                                               
purposes.   Another  300 attend  full,  year around,  residential                                                               
programs.  He said that HB 291  and HB 278 play an important role                                                               
in  these residential  opportunities  by  increasing the  stipend                                                               
amounts and  aligning funding with  the actual delivery  cost for                                                               
residential  services.     Four  new  residential   programs  are                                                               
approved for  start-up in  2014, and  the increased  stipend will                                                               
help  assure  the success  of  these  facilities.   He  spoke  in                                                               
support of HB 278 and HB 291 and  said the state is moving in the                                                               
right direction by approving this funding increase.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:07:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  how  many new  students  might  be                                                               
served by  passage of HB  278; will programs increase  the number                                                               
of students served or continue status quo.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  COVEY  said several  programs  have  been operating  without                                                               
stipend  funding  for  a  number  of  years,  and  suggested  the                                                               
question  be   posed  to  the  individual   administrators.    He                                                               
conjectured that, without the funding  proposed in HB 278, it may                                                               
be difficult for some programs to continue.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:09:44 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ERIC GEBHARDT, Superintendent, Nenana  City School District, said                                                               
the  stipend amount  has  remained the  same  since the  original                                                               
requested under previous legislation.   He said last year, Nenana                                                               
transferred roughly  $600,000 from the school  operating funds to                                                               
cover  boarding  costs  at  the  Nenana  Student  Living  Center.                                                               
Passage of  HB 278 would reduce  that amount to $230,000  and the                                                               
difference  will be  retained in  the school  operating fund  and                                                               
used directly for educational purposes.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:11:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  whether an  increase in  enrollment                                                               
would be  anticipated, with the  passage of this  legislation, or                                                               
if the bill primarily ensures budgetary support.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GEBHARDT responded  that the  center's physical  capacity is                                                               
licensed through the Department of  Health and Social Services to                                                               
accommodate  120 but  the current  funding capacity,  as provided                                                               
through the  Department of Education and  Early Development, only                                                               
supports 88.   Thus, the possibility  for increase exists.   To a                                                               
follow-up question  from Chair  Gattis, he  said that  caution is                                                               
exhibited   when   dealing   with  a   teenage   population   and                                                               
consideration  for overcrowding  is foremost;  any steps  towards                                                               
expansion would be paced.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:13:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  asked  whether the  parents  contribute                                                               
funds  to offset  costs, and  if the  school district  assists in                                                               
reducing costs.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. GEBHARDT  answered that the students  participate in cleaning                                                               
and general maintenance of the  facility, and assist with cooking                                                               
tasks.  Parents are not  charged tuition fees; however, the local                                                               
contribution  from the  City of  Nenana is  budgeted through  the                                                               
district.  The city also holds the loan note on the facility.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:15:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX   asked   what  improvements   could   be                                                               
anticipated with the funding proposed in HB 278.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GEBHARDT responded  that  funds would  be  applied to  areas                                                               
where reductions have been made,  such as addition of high school                                                               
teachers.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX inquired about the  size of the high school                                                               
classes.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GEBHARDT  said the  required  classes  have  as many  as  30                                                               
students.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
9:17:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P.   WILSON  expressed  concern   for  unintended                                                               
consequences.  She noted that  the difference of the physical and                                                               
funded capacity,  at the center,  represents the  possibility for                                                               
an increase of  32 resident students, but a cost  to the state of                                                               
roughly $2 million.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NUDELMAN  offered  that  if Nenana  chose  to  increase  the                                                               
enrollment  at  the  center,  a  request would  be  made  to  the                                                               
department, which  would in turn  come before the  legislature to                                                               
approve  further funding.   She  clarified  that the  residential                                                               
stipend  for  32 students  would  be  approximately $400,000;  an                                                               
educational  cost is  already associated  with each  student, and                                                               
paid to whatever public school they are currently attending.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:21:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  noted  that  often  residential  students                                                               
arrive  from small  rural area  high schools  and suggested  cost                                                               
differentials may  vary.   He asked  whether a  student attending                                                               
the Nenana  Living Center  is funded  by the  Nenana area  or the                                                               
originating school districts allotment formula.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. NUDELMAN said that for  the full year programs the foundation                                                               
formula  is established  at the  rate of  the residential  school                                                               
location, in this situation the Nenana calculation applies.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  observed that  a  student  coming from  a                                                               
rural  area with  an  extremely high  differential  to attend  an                                                               
urban  residential   program  with   a  low   differential  could                                                               
represent a  cost savings, possibly  exceeding the amount  of the                                                               
stipend.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. NUDELMAN agreed that a monetary savings could be realized.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:22:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  expressed  concern  that  the  loss  of                                                               
students  from rural  areas can  be  critical and  a decrease  in                                                               
enrollment could  possibly result  in closure of  a school.   She                                                               
asked how such a scenario might be addressed.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. NUDELMAN  answered that  many residential  facilities operate                                                               
variable  term  programs.   Under  these  programs,  a  student's                                                               
attendance count,  and thus foundation funding,  remains with the                                                               
home  district.   A  residential  stipend  is  paid to  the  host                                                               
program, as  approved by the  legislature.  Students  arrive from                                                               
rural communities  for programs  ranging in  length, to  attend a                                                               
comprehensive educational component otherwise not available.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:28:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  questioned  the  benefit  to  a  learning                                                               
center in  having a  student attend for  an intensive,  less than                                                               
one year, program,  if the only funding received is  a stipend to                                                               
cover the board  and room fees.  With no  base student allocation                                                               
(BSA) to  support the educational  aspect, would a  program, such                                                               
as located in Galena, accept that student.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHRIS  REITAN,  Superintendent,   Galena  City  School  District,                                                               
responded  that  Galena operates  a  full  year, not  a  variable                                                               
length, program.   The funding at Galena is through  the BSA.  He                                                               
agreed  with previous  testimony,  regarding residential  program                                                               
needs and  the possibility for expanding  educational services if                                                               
funds  were not  being  used  to cover  stipend  shortfalls.   He                                                               
reported that  $1.2 million  was transferred  last year  to cover                                                               
food service, security, and utility  costs.  The funding would be                                                               
better used  to bolster educational  areas, he said, and  named a                                                               
number  of  career related  components  that  would benefit  high                                                               
school and postsecondary students.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:32:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  asked  how much  the  Galena  community                                                               
contributes to this local program.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. REITAN reported  that approximately $80,000 is  what shows on                                                               
the books,  but the community  supplements with a number  of city                                                               
services including  snow removal, general maintenance,  and other                                                               
support.   He said Galena  residents consider the facility  to be                                                               
critical to the region and the state.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD asked whether  property taxes are imposed                                                               
in the Galena area.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. REITAN  responded that property  taxes are not  collected but                                                               
the city receives its funds through a sales tax.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:33:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether Galena is  the district that                                                               
operates  the  Interior  Distance   Education  of  Alaska  (IDEA)                                                               
program   for   the   home  school   students,   and   asked   if                                                               
administration of that program generates revenue.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. REITAN  confirmed that Galena is  the home base for  IDEA and                                                               
the funds generated are used  to benefit the students by bringing                                                               
them  to Galena  for  a one  month, residential  program.   To  a                                                               
follow-up  question, he  said there  was  an offset  of about  $1                                                               
million last year.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:35:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  asked   for  the  administrative  costs                                                               
associated with homeschool programs.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. REITAN  responded that the  allotment for each student  is 80                                                               
percent  of the  BSA, approximately  $4,500.   Out of  that, each                                                               
family   is   allowed  $1,200   for   a   high  school   student.                                                               
Additionally, five  regional offices are paid  for administrative                                                               
support  and there  are costs  related  to teacher  contact.   He                                                               
characterized IDEA as a tightly run program.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:36:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LISA RIEGER, Representative, Cook  Inlet Tribal Council, said the                                                               
model  the  council uses  is  a  partnership with  the  Anchorage                                                               
School  District  to  provide   supportive  student  housing  for                                                               
individuals attending Anchorage  area schools.  She  said this is                                                               
a  new program,  currently serving  3 students,  12 are  expected                                                               
next  year, and  plans are  to accommodate  a total  of 40.   The                                                               
stipend  pays a  portion of  costs  and private  funds are  being                                                               
raised  to  fill the  gap.    She said  the  focus  is to  assist                                                               
students, who might not otherwise  receive support during crucial                                                               
high school years,  to become productive citizens  able to pursue                                                               
postsecondary careers or enter the workforce.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:39:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND inquired about  which schools the current                                                               
students attend and for information regarding the fiscal note.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. REIGER responded that the  students attend West and East High                                                               
Schools, and  transportation is covered  under the program.   The                                                               
stipend will not be received until next year, she said.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:40:07 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked about the length of program.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. REIGER answered that it operates  on a 12 month basis; summer                                                               
activities are a component.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:40:30 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked where the students originate.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. REIGER  said these are  students who were already  located in                                                               
Anchorage,  although  they  may  originally be  from  a  village.                                                               
Homeless  students may  also be  served and  be eligible  for the                                                               
stipend.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  recapped that  the  program  provides                                                               
housing to students not able to live with their family.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. REIGER said,  "Correct," and added that the  housing model is                                                               
for six  students, a house  parent, and  an Elder.   The students                                                               
are  assigned  house chores  and  the  environment is  geared  to                                                               
resemble a family unit.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:43:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DOUG WALRATH, Director, Northwestern  Alaska Career and Technical                                                               
Center  (NACTEC), Bering  Straits  School  District, provided  an                                                               
overview of  the NACTEC  program, in operation  since 2003,  as a                                                               
partnership  with  the  Bering Straits  and  Nome  Public  School                                                               
Districts.  In  addition to the 16  regional communities, NACTEC,                                                               
as a  regional training center,  serves 55 villages  and averages                                                               
241 students per year.   It is an engaging curriculum, partnering                                                               
with  local  industry  to  offer   a  culturally  rich,  relevant                                                               
education.   In  the tenth  year  of operation,  he reported,  40                                                               
trainees completed the  program.  Since the  inception of NACTEC,                                                               
local  graduation  rates have  improved  from  32 percent  to  61                                                               
percent.    He  attributes  this trend  to  the  NACTEC  outreach                                                               
efforts and timely introduction of  eighth grade students to post                                                               
graduation career opportunities that can  be secured in or around                                                               
their  home  areas.   The  program  has been  succeeding  without                                                               
receipt   of    residential   funding   support.       Addressing                                                               
Representative  LeDoux's question  regarding  why programs  might                                                               
accept out  of area students, he  said that it serves  to broaden                                                               
the scope of  class offerings.  For example,  partnering with the                                                               
Chugach  facility allows  NACTEC students  learning opportunities                                                               
in areas  such as  flight ground school  and Emergency  Medical I                                                               
training, and  in Anchorage  students gain  the benefit  of urban                                                               
transitions through the  Voyage to Excellence (VTE)  program.  He                                                               
said  bringing students  to Nome  from other  areas enriches  the                                                               
local group and  supports social dynamics.  The two  to four week                                                               
residential experience also gives  village students an experience                                                               
of  being away  from home,  which may  benefit them  in a  future                                                               
college or  military settings.   Finally, he said, 27  percent of                                                               
the  budget is  raised locally  through educational  tax credits;                                                               
however, this  provides a fluctuating  base that is  dependent on                                                               
the local  economy, and makes  budgeting difficult.   The general                                                               
operating  costs are  absorbed, to  a large  degree, through  the                                                               
partnership  arrangements   that  have   been  forged   with  the                                                               
participating school districts and through the help of industry.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS reported  that, on  a  recent visit  to the  NACTEC                                                               
facility and attendance to an  Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN)                                                               
event,  an informal  poll indicated  strong parental  support for                                                               
the boarding  school, and  indicated that parents  view it  as an                                                               
important educational option.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:50:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether students are  taken into the                                                               
variable programs from districts not  in partnership, and, if so,                                                               
are the home districts required to pay a portion of the BSA.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALRATH said that the  exchange arrangements require the home                                                               
district to cover transportation costs  to Nome, but NACTEC takes                                                               
over  financially from  there; and  the reverse  occurs for  Nome                                                               
students.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  restated to  ask about the  possibility of                                                               
NACTEC accepting students from any district in the state.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. WALRATH  responded, "Do  we now -  no; would we  - yes."   He                                                               
added that  a memorandum of  understanding could be  secured from                                                               
the  governing   board;  however,  capacity  would   have  to  be                                                               
considered.   When training exchanges are  possible, every effort                                                               
is made  to take advantage of  the situation, and if  no exchange                                                               
is available, fees would need to be imposed.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:53:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ANDREA  KORBE, Vice  President, Chugach  School District,  stated                                                               
support  for  HB 291,  paraphrasing  from  a prepared  statement,                                                               
which read as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     I  applaud this  forward thinking  proposed legislation                                                                    
     which  is  in  alignment   of  the  Governor's  guiding                                                                    
     principles  of fixing  and supporting  what we  already                                                                    
     have, and finishing what we've started.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     HB 291 proposes  to invest in what is  already in place                                                                    
     and what  has already proven effective  and successful.                                                                    
     A recent  legislative appropriation  to expand  our VTE                                                                    
     facilities  is deeply  appreciated,  and students  from                                                                    
     around Alaska are already benefiting from it today.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Community and  business input along with  student needs                                                                    
     were  the  driving force  for  the  development of  our                                                                    
     variable-term  residential  school   called  Voyage  To                                                                    
     Excellence, or VTE.   This statewide residential school                                                                    
     is an  Alaskan grass roots developed  program, designed                                                                    
     specifically to  simultaneously meet Alaskan  youth and                                                                    
     business partner  needs.  Based  in Anchorage,  VTE has                                                                    
     the ability  to connect  all Alaskan students  with the                                                                    
     vast  majority  of  Alaskan businesses,  regardless  of                                                                    
     where  the students  call home.    VTE has  experienced                                                                    
     continued growth  in the number of  students who choose                                                                    
     to  participate   through  the  years.     Hundreds  of                                                                    
     businesses have  worked with thousands of  VTE students                                                                    
     from over 15 districts throughout the past 18 years.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     VTE  results have  not only  had a  tremendous positive                                                                    
     impact  upon graduation  rates, with  a 98%  graduation                                                                    
     rate shown in  our last study, but a  recent study also                                                                    
     shows  that  VTE student  are  far  more persistent  in                                                                    
     their postsecondary  training than students  who've not                                                                    
     participated in  VTE. They stick  with it  and complete                                                                    
     college  or  career   training  programs,  rather  than                                                                    
     dropping  out  during  the vulnerable  transition  from                                                                    
     high school to careers and college.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     To  meet  the  ongoing   challenge  of  sustaining  our                                                                    
     ability  to provide  VTE services,  the Chugach  School                                                                    
     District will  continue to  rely upon  multiple sources                                                                    
     on  revenue.   With escalating  costs in  virtually all                                                                    
     areas  of operation,  passing HB  291, to  increase the                                                                    
     residential school  stipend, is  key to our  ability to                                                                    
     sustain  these essential  student services  for Alaskan                                                                    
     youth and businesses.  This  stipend increase should in                                                                    
     no way  be considered a  hand out but rather  should be                                                                    
     considered a  leg up  for the  youth and  businesses of                                                                    
     Alaska.    It  is   indeed  support  for  a  successful                                                                    
     education solution that Alaska has already started.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:58:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  commented  that this  bill  represents  a                                                               
bright star  in the effort to  improve state education.   He then                                                               
moved  to  report  HB  291   out  of  committee  with  individual                                                               
recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
9:59:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS opened public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON withdrew his motion.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:59:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KATRINA CHURCH-CHMIELOWSKI,  Vice President, Copper  River School                                                               
District  Board  of Education,  stated  support  for HB  278  and                                                               
HB 291,  paraphrasing from  a prepared  statement, which  read as                                                               
follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     I have served on the board  since 2008, and am a mother                                                                    
     of three children enrolled in  the district.  I am here                                                                    
     to  speak in  support  of House  Bill[s]  291 and  278,                                                                    
     representing the  Board of Education and  speaking as a                                                                    
     parent  whose children  will  benefit  from passage  of                                                                    
     this bill.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     The  Copper River  School District  (CRSD) has  applied                                                                    
     for a Planning  Grant to develop True  North Academy, a                                                                    
     district-operated       statewide       variable-length                                                                    
     residential  educational  program  and  virtual  school                                                                    
     that will benefit students across  the state of Alaska.                                                                    
     Our vision will allow  students to enjoy a high-quality                                                                    
     education in their schools  and/or home communities, as                                                                    
     well  as  in-depth,  hands-on experiences  in  targeted                                                                    
     areas  that   will  prepare  them  to   be  productive,                                                                    
     successful citizens  with the skills and  confidence to                                                                    
     pursue  training,  college,   and  careers  after  high                                                                    
     school graduation.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     The   virtual   academy   connects   on-site   learning                                                                    
     opportunities  in  "skills  academies" at  a  variable-                                                                    
     length   residential  education   program  located   in                                                                    
     Glennallen.    The   "skills  academies"  are  on-site,                                                                    
     hands-on,     concentrated    study     and    practice                                                                    
     opportunities  for  students.   Pairing  the  two  will                                                                    
     provide  students across  Alaska with  opportunities to                                                                    
     learn in unique, innovative, and individualized ways.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     Offices,  classrooms,  and   living  quarters  will  be                                                                    
     located  on the  recently-vacated Alaska  Bible College                                                                    
     campus,   which   is   immediately  adjacent   to   the                                                                    
     Glennallen  School campus.   The  Alaska Bible  College                                                                    
     Board  of Directors  supports the  Copper River  School                                                                    
     District's proposal.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     Prince William  Sound Community College,  Copper Basin,                                                                    
     of which  I am  the Director,  is currently  located on                                                                    
     the same  Alaska Bible College campus.   Prince William                                                                    
     Sound  Community College  (PWSCC) and  the CRSD  have a                                                                    
     partnership  to work  together to  expand offerings  to                                                                    
     True  North Academy  students.    PWSCC already  offers                                                                    
     dual credit courses to local  students, and will expand                                                                    
     those offerings to True  North Academy students through                                                                    
     synchronous and  asynchronous delivery  as well  as on-                                                                    
     site programs.   Dual  credit offerings  content tracks                                                                    
     include  core  academic  courses such  as  English  and                                                                    
     history, foreign languages,  technology careers, health                                                                    
     occupations,   office   management,  and   career   and                                                                    
     technical programs such as millwright.   PWSCC is fully                                                                    
     supportive of the CRSD's proposal.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     House Bill 291  will help support the  students of True                                                                    
     North  Academy's   virtual  school   and  variable-term                                                                    
     residential  program.     Students  will  benefit  with                                                                    
     access to high quality,  rigorous coursework and hands-                                                                    
     on experiences  that will prepare  them for  life after                                                                    
     high  school.    This   bill  directly  and  positively                                                                    
     affects the  Copper River School District's  ability to                                                                    
     provide  students across  Alaska  new opportunities  to                                                                    
     succeed.  I encourage you  to support House Bill[s] 291                                                                    
     and 278.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:02:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
TESSA  WYGANT,  Student,  Copper River  School  District,  stated                                                               
support for HB  291, indicating that the bill will  be helpful to                                                               
further  the opening  of a  boarding school  in the  Copper River                                                               
School District.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked  when the  doors are  expected to                                                               
open on the boarding school.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CHURCH-CHMIELOWSKI responded  that it  will open  in phases,                                                               
with the initial phase scheduled for the fall of 2014.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:04:23 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS closed public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
10:04:30 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  moved to  report HB  291 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.   Without objection,  HB 291 was  reported from  the House                                                               
Education Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
[HB 278 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Molly Hunter Article.pdf HEDC 2/10/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 245
HB278 Testimony - Patricia Young.pdf HEDC 2/10/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 278