Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

03/05/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION


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08:09:38 AM Start
08:10:15 AM HB93|| HB278
10:26:27 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 93 CHARTER SCHOOLS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 278 EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
- Focused on Charter Schools
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                      HB 93-CHARTER SCHOOL                                                                                  
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
8:10:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
concurrent hearings  of HOUSE  BILL NO. 93,  "An Act  relating to                                                               
the   authorization,  monitoring,   and   operation  of   charter                                                               
schools," and  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."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:11:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CRYSTAL KENNEDY, Staff, Representative  Lynn Gattis, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on behalf of the  prime sponsor, Representative Lynn                                                               
Gattis, recapped  HB 93, paraphrasing from  a prepared statement,                                                               
which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The purpose of  this bill is to expand  and improve our                                                                    
     state's charter  school laws in  an effort to  create a                                                                    
     healthier environment for the  establishment of and for                                                                    
     the  operation  of our  public  charter  schools.   Our                                                                    
     state  began this  effort almost  20 years  ago and  as                                                                    
     we've seen  the benefits that a  charter school program                                                                    
     has afforded  our students these  past two  decades and                                                                    
     it  has become  evident  that we  need  to continue  to                                                                    
     revise   and  improve   our   laws   to  expand   those                                                                    
     opportunities  and  continue  to meet  the  educational                                                                    
     needs of  our youngest  citizens.   Our state  has been                                                                    
     ranked 40th  in the  area of supportive  charter school                                                                    
     laws (by  National Alliance of Public  Charter Schools)                                                                    
     and  this   bill  addresses   some  of   the  statute's                                                                    
     shortcomings  by removing  some  of  the barriers  that                                                                    
     have   unintentionally  become   a  hindrance   and  by                                                                    
     providing  efficiencies  for better  implementation  of                                                                    
     this viable and in-demand educational option.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:12:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENNEDY continued presenting HB 93, reading [original                                                                       
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     [HB  93]   has  several   main  components   that  I'll                                                                    
     highlight briefly:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     It  allows multiple  authorizers  for approving  public                                                                    
     charter school charters.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     It requires  DEED to  develop procedures  for approving                                                                    
     those   authorizing  entities   and  establishing   the                                                                    
     requirements,  responsibilities  and  expectations  for                                                                    
     those entities.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     It  charges the  DEED for  prescribing the  application                                                                    
     procedures  rather  than  a   local  district  for  the                                                                    
     purposes of statewide consistency.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     DEED  and  the  Board  of Education  remain  the  final                                                                    
     authority   for  approving   authorizers  and   charter                                                                    
     schools.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     It puts more oversight  and reporting responsibility on                                                                    
     the  shoulders  of the  DEED,  not  the charter  school                                                                    
     itself or the local districts.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     It  specifies   that  districts  must   disburse  funds                                                                    
     including  the   local  contribution  amounts   to  the                                                                    
     charter school in a timely manner.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     It  provides  for an  agreed  upon  exemption to  local                                                                    
     negotiated bargaining agreements  and allows for hiring                                                                    
     a  teacher  who  is  outside of  the  local  collective                                                                    
     bargaining group.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     My  goal  is  simply  to refresh  your  memory  on  the                                                                    
     elements  of the  bill  and  I am  more  than happy  to                                                                    
     answer  any  questions but  with  the  approval of  the                                                                    
     Chair I would like to  suggest that you hear from those                                                                    
     waiting to  testify on  this bill.   There  are several                                                                    
     people  available  on-line from  nationally  recognized                                                                    
     organizations [that] can shed more  light on how any of                                                                    
     these   changes  would   improve  our   charter  school                                                                    
     environment and will  give you a better  picture of how                                                                    
      these changes are working in other states around the                                                                      
     nation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     It  doesn't take  the ability  away  from local  school                                                                    
     boards  to  approve a  charter;  instead  it adds  that                                                                    
     privilege  and responsibility  to other  state approved                                                                    
     entities.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:14:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  remarked that  she brought this  bill up  last year                                                               
and  believes that  now  is  the perfect  time  to  look at  some                                                               
outdated  charter  school  laws,  especially  since  the  charter                                                               
schools have evolved.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:15:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KENNEDY read  portions of  the testimony  from Russ  Symnic,                                                               
Senior Director,  National Alliance  for Public  Charter Schools.                                                               
She said that  Mr. Symnic says that authorizers  are the entities                                                               
that  review  applications,  enter into  charter  contracts  with                                                               
applicants, oversee public charter  schools and decide whether to                                                               
review  or close  them.   Most  states with  charter school  laws                                                               
allow  local school  boards as  charter authorizers;  however, 35                                                               
states  and the  District  of Columbia  also permit  non-district                                                               
entities, such  as universities, colleges, and  independent state                                                               
chartering boards to serve as  charter authorizers in addition to                                                               
the local school boards.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. KENNEDY related  six types of non-district  authorizers:  new                                                               
independent state chartering boards -  14 states and the District                                                               
of  Columbia  - universities  and  colleges,  three states  allow                                                               
cities   to  be   authorizers,   four   states  allow   nonprofit                                                               
organizations  to  be  authorizers,   six  states  have  regional                                                               
education  entities, and  18 states  take  advantage of  existing                                                               
state  boards,  commissions  and  departments.   One  of  the  20                                                               
essential components of the national  Alliance for Public Charter                                                               
Schools' model public charter school  law is ensuring two or more                                                               
authorizing paths, such as a  school district and a state charter                                                               
school's  commission,  are available  for  each  applicant for  a                                                               
public   charter  school   with   direct   application  to   each                                                               
authorizer.   In  one of  his  final comments,  Mr. Symnic  says,                                                               
"Whatever path  a state  chooses, allowing  non-district entities                                                               
to authorize public charter schools  will lead to a larger number                                                               
of high-quality public charter schools  in states.  Not only will                                                               
these schools benefit  the students who attend  them, but they'll                                                               
also  serve  the  larger  public   education  system  by  sharing                                                               
successful practices with surrounding school districts."                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:17:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  reminded members  that on March  15, 2013,                                                               
the committee adopted Version O as  a working document.  He asked                                                               
whether the committee is currently still working from Version O.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  answered yes; however,  some discussion  has arisen                                                               
since the document wasn't listed in BASIS.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:19:21 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MATTHEW  LADNER,  PhD, Senior  Advisor  of  Policy and  Research,                                                               
Foundation  for   Excellence  in  Education,  stated   that  this                                                               
organization is  a nonprofit founded  by former  Florida Governor                                                               
Jeb  Bush,  in  Tallahassee,  Florida   although  he  resides  in                                                               
Phoenix,  Arizona.   He  said charter  schools  tend to  generate                                                               
controversy.  He read from Article  VII, Section 1, of the Alaska                                                               
Constitution, as  follows, "The legislature shall  by general law                                                               
establish and  maintain a  system of public  schools open  to all                                                               
children  of  the   state  and  may  provide   for  other  public                                                               
educational  institutions."   Clauses  like  this reinforce  that                                                               
school districts  are here to  stay and  100 years from  now will                                                               
serve even more  students.  Further, he anticipated  they will be                                                               
a permanent feature  of all states in  the educational landscape.                                                               
The question is to discover  means to help public schools operate                                                               
better.   Of course charter  schools are public schools,  but are                                                               
organized  a  little differently.    Directing  attention to  the                                                               
committee packet  and the handout  entitled "Charter  Schools and                                                               
Alaska's Challenges," he reviewed age  data generated by the U.S.                                                               
Census  Bureau to  explain trends  in student  enrollment growth.                                                               
By 2030,  it is expected  that the target school  population will                                                               
increase  and  the number  of  charter  schools  will rise.    He                                                               
cautioned against  viewing students as  a fixed pie  with charter                                                               
schools taking away from public school funding and student.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER  turned to  "Figure 1:   Alaska's Expanding  Youth and                                                               
Elderly  Population"  to  population projections.    He  directed                                                               
attention to  the bar graph  that compares the  census population                                                               
for  2010  with  projections  in   2030.    The  blue  bar  graph                                                               
represents  children ages  5-17  and the  red  graph, seniors  65                                                               
years and older.  In 2010  children ages 5-17 totaled 125,603 but                                                               
will  increase  in 2030  to  176,174.   Conversely,  the  elderly                                                               
population will increase  from 56,548 to 127,202  during the same                                                               
time period.   He predicted Alaska is one of  12 states that will                                                               
experience  a large  increase in  senior population  at the  same                                                               
time they  experience an increase  in the K-12 population.   Both                                                               
of  these  populations  will  have  an  impact  on  state  budget                                                               
considerations due to  Medicaid programs due to  the baby boomers                                                               
moving into retirement as their grandchildren increase.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:25:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER said  charter schools represent a means  to create new                                                               
public  schools   without  drawing   on  state  funds   to  build                                                               
facilities in the same way  that traditional schools do.  Charter                                                               
school operators  raise private funds from  philanthropic sources                                                               
to open new public schools.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS interjected  that  Alaskan charter  schools do  not                                                               
follow that  form and  at this  time do  not have  private funds.                                                               
All  charter  schools are  public  schools  and lease  buildings,                                                               
often paying property taxes from operating funds.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:27:18 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked for  further clarification on whether                                                               
most states  charter schools  are supported  by funds  other than                                                               
public funds.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DR.  LADNER explained  that  charter schools  are  funded from  a                                                               
combination  of  funding  sources,  but  often  they  will  raise                                                               
philanthropic dollars to establish  their facilities.  He pointed                                                               
out the anticipated student population  growth and suggested that                                                               
if someone did  raise money from philanthropic  sources, it could                                                               
benefit the state.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:28:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  for further  clarification that  in                                                               
other states in many cases  the charter school facility costs are                                                               
raised  through  private  sources and  operations  occur  through                                                               
state funding.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER answered that is  correct.  The growth trend indicates                                                               
that  school and  retirement age  populations will  grow but  the                                                               
percentage of Alaskans  in the labor force will be  fewer.  Thus,                                                               
at the  same time that  fewer taxpayers  will be paying  into the                                                               
system  Alaska will  face additional  demands for  K-12 students.                                                               
He highlighted  the two  big issues Alaska  faces, first,  how to                                                               
house  50,000   additional  students.     Second,   the  National                                                               
Assessment  of Educational  Progress  (NAEP)  or nation's  report                                                               
card,  which  is a  highly  respected  source of  data,  provides                                                               
scoring  that   indicates  Alaska,   similar  to   other  states,                                                               
experiences quality issues.  This  is especially pertinent, since                                                               
the  2030 taxpayers  are currently  in the  Alaska public  school                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
8:31:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX interjected that  Alaska does not currently                                                               
have a state tax, as he is conjecturing.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS acknowledged the state  does not have a state income                                                               
tax.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:32:20 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER, referring  to the slide entitled, "Figure  2:  Alaska                                                               
Students Scoring  "Proficient or Better" on  NAEP," addressed the                                                               
NAEP scores  that indicate full  grade level  proficiency scores,                                                               
which  indicate  Alaskan  scores  for  student  run  about  30-31                                                               
percent.  Obviously,  he said, the state will want  to improve on                                                               
these  percentages.   He related  NAEP  has four  levels:   below                                                               
basic, basic, proficient, and advanced.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER  referred to  the slide  entitled "Charter  School Law                                                               
Rankings  and  Scorecard  2013,"  which outlines  data  from  the                                                               
Center for Education  Reform (CER), a Washington  D.C, group that                                                               
focuses  on charter  schools.   The  CER has  graded all  states'                                                               
charter school  laws and Alaska ranks  on the low end  in the "D"                                                               
column.     The  CER   found  that  the   biggest  flaw   is  the                                                               
authorization, and  leaving authority solely to  school districts                                                               
creates a conflict  of interest.  He added that  there is concern                                                               
on how  charter schools may  impact neighborhood  public schools;                                                               
however, as a  practical matter it doesn't come up  very often in                                                               
rural  areas.    Charter  school   operators  are  making  a  big                                                               
investment and tend  to focus on urban settings and  not in rural                                                               
areas or other areas in which the school won't be viable.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR.  LADNER turned  to the  final chart  entitled, "Annual  test-                                                               
score  gains   between  1992  and   2011  (percent   of  standard                                                               
deviation)."  This chart does  not indicate Alaska statistics but                                                               
lists  cost per  student cost  as  compared to  improvement.   He                                                               
related  this tracks  the past  twenty years  of investment.   He                                                               
pointed out that Florida appears to  be the most improved for the                                                               
least per  pupil investment and  suggested that one of  the major                                                               
themes in the  Florida reform effort has been school  choice.  He                                                               
characterized Florida's charter school  law as being very robust,                                                               
with private,  charter, and virtual school  diversification.  The                                                               
proficiency and  effectiveness in  Florida has been  dramatic and                                                               
population  growth  has been  robust.    He indicated  a  greater                                                               
percentage of children are being  taught to read and are becoming                                                               
proficient in math.   Like Alaska, Florida has  a growing student                                                               
population and  must consider  where to house  students.   In his                                                               
experience  it's not  just that  charter  schools create  healthy                                                               
competition for students, but they  allow parents the opportunity                                                               
to  match their  child with  a  school that  fits the  need.   He                                                               
touted the  need to  liberalize the charter  school laws  to meet                                                               
students' needs.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:42:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  acknowledged  that  charter  schools  are                                                               
widely  accepted in  Alaska, and  not a  concern for  quality and                                                               
performance.   He turned  to the  chart indicating  the scorecard                                                               
ranking and said that Alaska,  Maryland, and Arkansas all fall in                                                               
the "D"  column, yet charter  schools in these states  showed the                                                               
greatest improvement.  He asked for further clarification.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
DR.  LADNER  said  there  are multiple  ways  to  improve  public                                                               
schools and  did not  intend to suggest  charter schools  are the                                                               
only  way to  do so.   He  said a  number of  studies on  charter                                                               
school performance  found students  who gained access  to charter                                                               
schools  via  lotteries  had  a  clear  academic  advantage  over                                                               
students  who applied  but  did  not gain  access.   Thus,  solid                                                               
evidence shows that charter schools  will help improve education;                                                               
however, charter schools are not  the only way to improved public                                                               
education in Alaska.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
8:45:17 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO,  III  reiterated that  Alaskans  don't  pay                                                               
state  taxes  and he  noted  Alaska's  revenue oil-based  revenue                                                               
source  faces declining  oil production  and reduced  revenue, so                                                               
the  state  faces budget  constraints.    He viewed  the  growing                                                               
student population statistics as positive,  but it also puts more                                                               
pressure  on Alaska's  budget situation  and makes  it likely  to                                                               
justify funding  programs that may  not be  tested.  He  asked if                                                               
the state  allows other authorizers  for charter schools  if they                                                               
will  need to  meet the  same requirements  as the  public school                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER responded  that with declining oil  revenue, the state                                                               
will  likely need  to increase  personal taxation.   With  50,000                                                               
students  on  the horizon,  he  suggested  the state  might  seek                                                               
statutory   changes  to   encourage  philanthropic   dollars  for                                                               
educational purposes.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:47:22 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS said  she received a comment, which  read:  "Charter                                                               
schools  are an  attack against  local control.   As  new charter                                                               
schools pop  up in school  districts and decreased  enrollment in                                                               
traditional public  schools, school districts might  be forced to                                                               
close  neighborhood schools.    Currently,  school districts  are                                                               
able to  make decisions  about charter  schools that  benefit all                                                               
students."   She  asked him  to respond  to the  fear of  charter                                                               
schools.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
DR. LADNER,  based on  census data,  responded that  the district                                                               
schools are  not in  jeopardy of  closing in Alaska.   With  a 40                                                               
percent  increase in  school  age population  it  is more  likely                                                               
potential overcrowding  is more of a  concern.  The best  kind of                                                               
local control for schooling options  is through parental control.                                                               
He  acknowledged  and respected  the  school  board process,  but                                                               
favored greater options  for parents to seek  out the appropriate                                                               
situation  for  their  children's   education.    No  matter  the                                                               
setting,  every school  has  some students  who  could be  better                                                               
suited in another situation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:50:24 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS suggested  multiple authorizers  may be  a question                                                               
for  the  committee  to  discuss.   She  reported  the  trend  in                                                               
Alaska's public  school districts appear to  be declining student                                                               
population  with the  exception  of the  Mat-su School  District.                                                               
She asked for further clarification on the figures.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
DR.  LADNER  said  he  reviewed  the  current  school  enrollment                                                               
statistics which he accessed indicate  the growth as shown on the                                                               
census chart.   He said other options could cause  the decline in                                                               
the public  schools.  He was  unsure what the private  school and                                                               
home school rates were and how that affects the figures.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
8:53:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMANDA  FENTON,  Director,  State and  Federal  Policy,  National                                                               
Association of  Charter School  Authorizers (NACSA),  stated that                                                               
NACSA works  with charter school  authorizers, the  entities that                                                               
grant  and oversee  charter  schools.   In  Alaska,  it would  be                                                               
school districts.   The NACSA  works to ensure that  the policies                                                               
and structures ensure  that the best schools  are being approved,                                                               
the charter school is held  accountable, fostering a high-quality                                                               
structure.   She addressed the multiple  authorizer questions and                                                               
said the first principle is that  a charter school should have at                                                               
least  two authorizer  options available  in their  jurisdiction,                                                               
but not too many.  The  state should ensure that new and existing                                                               
authorizers are  of the highest  quality to help ensure  that the                                                               
charter  school  sector will  be  high  quality and  produce  the                                                               
highest performing school.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. FENTON  cited that  31 of  42 states  that have  charter laws                                                               
have multiple authorizers, one of  which could be the State Board                                                               
of Education,  a state  charter school  board, an  institution of                                                               
higher   education,  a   nonprofit  organization,   or  municipal                                                               
government.   This  helps ensure  that a  single operator  cannot                                                               
block all  charter schools.   Some  states like  Ohio, Minnesota,                                                               
and  Indiana have  had  too  many authorizers,  up  to two  dozen                                                               
statewide  authorizers operating  at  once.   When  too many  are                                                               
operating,  there  is a  concern  for  creating  a "race  to  the                                                               
bottom"  situation,  when  authorizers  try  to  attract  charter                                                               
schools, causing a negative impact  on the quality of the charter                                                               
sector.   The  possibility  for 2-5  would be  optimal  and if  a                                                               
school has  been turned down by  five entities, it is  likely the                                                               
school  shouldn't be  approved.   Expansion of  the authorization                                                               
process and  ensuring quality  will foster  positive growth  of a                                                               
vibrant  charter   school  sector  while   providing  protections                                                               
against some  of the  negative impacts  of too  many authorizers.                                                               
Policy stipulations  can be imposed  on charter schools,  such as                                                               
strengthening renewal  standards, but also for  authorizers, such                                                               
as requiring  measureable results  to hold  accountability levels                                                               
up.    She  stated  this  can  be  accomplished  through  regular                                                               
authorizer  evaluations,  or   by  strengthening  the  authorizer                                                               
application process proposed  in HB 93, or as  Minnesota has done                                                               
by holding  the authorizer  directly accountable  for performance                                                               
of the charter schools it oversees.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO,  III  said  the  current  system  hosts  53                                                               
independent  schools   in  the   state  and  suggested   that  an                                                               
additional state authorizer  might be in order  rather than allow                                                               
any authorizers to come forward, which could lead to 60 or more.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:00:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether  current state law requires a                                                               
charter  school  be  authorized  in  the  district  where  it  is                                                               
physically located.  She asked  whether Fairbanks could authorize                                                               
a school a charter school in Anchorage.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:02:05 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner,  Department  of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (EED),  answered that the school  district authorizes                                                               
schools  in   their  district,  but  technically   there  are  no                                                               
prohibitions  on  the  physical  boundaries.   For  example,  the                                                               
Middle  College  Charter School  falls  just  outside the  Mat-Su                                                               
Borough School District (MSBSB),  but, typically, charter schools                                                               
do operate within the district boundaries.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  related  her understanding  that  may  be                                                               
tradition,  but  is there  any  law  prohibiting the  MSBSC  from                                                               
authorizing schools in the Anchorage School District.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY answered  no.   The  students attending  the                                                               
school are not Anchorage School  District (ASD) students, but the                                                               
Mat-Su Borough's students.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS  interjected  that   the  students  reside  in  one                                                               
district and the charter school is in another district.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  related the  school  is  on the  university                                                               
campus.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:04:04 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KITO,  III said  the funding  for the  students in                                                               
the  charter school  comes from  the  home district.   A  charter                                                               
school  authorized in  Fairbanks  but taking  place in  Anchorage                                                               
would need  to consist  of Fairbanks students,  which may  be the                                                               
delineating factor.  Therefore, it  would not likely result in an                                                               
authorization.    However,  the  MSBSC  and  ASD  share  adjacent                                                               
boundaries  so  MSBSD's students  could  cross  into the  ASD  to                                                               
attend, but would bring their MSB funding.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  related her  understanding if  the funding                                                               
followed  the students,  under  HB 93,  would  the student  costs                                                               
reside with Anchorage  because of the approval  by an independent                                                               
authorizer from Anchorage.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY explained  that  an authorizer  that is  not                                                               
connected to  a district essentially creates  a separate district                                                               
for  schools  not  defined  by  geography,  but  defined  by  the                                                               
authorizer.   He didn't envision  each district would  become its                                                               
own  local education  agency (LEA),  but  every authorizer  would                                                               
create new school districts as it approves schools.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:06:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS said  the  intent  for HB  93  was  to allow  local                                                               
control  of  schools,  and   neighborhood  schools  could  become                                                               
charter  schools.    She  related  her  understanding  that  some                                                               
parents and  teachers in rural  Alaska wanted to break  away from                                                               
districts and  create a charter  school, but received  push back.                                                               
In addition,  some Native Corporations would  like to participate                                                               
by bringing rural students to Anchorage.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:08:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX, in  the context of a village  with a small                                                               
student population, noted not everyone  would agree on whether to                                                               
have a neighborhood school or a charter school.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FENTON  interjected  that  a  quality  authorizer  will  not                                                               
approve a school  that may not prove to be  viable on all fronts,                                                               
including  community  support,  financial  viability,  and  other                                                               
facets.   In small  communities schools  that are  approved often                                                               
occur as  a means of  consolidation.   She related a  scenario in                                                               
Colorado to illustrate that schools  are not typically created in                                                               
areas where they are not desired.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
9:12:34 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD  remarked that more  needs to be  done to                                                               
improve  our  schools.    The  current school  budget  is  at  $3                                                               
billion,  and  the  NAEP  scores   indicate  low  proficiency  in                                                               
critical areas,  such as 8th  grade math.  She  expressed concern                                                               
that many students are being held  back and long wait lists exist                                                               
at charter  schools.  The  parental choice is not  available, due                                                               
to the limited  space in charter schools.   She acknowledged that                                                               
multiple  authorizers would  be  important in  a healthy  system.                                                               
She  asked  for a  recommendation  of  three authorizers  with  a                                                               
proven record.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
9:14:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FENTON said  that beyond  the  school district  authorizers,                                                               
that two institutions of higher  education include the University                                                               
of  New  York and  Central  Michigan  University, the  Thomas  B.                                                               
Fordham   Institute   in  Ohio,   a   nonprofit,   the  City   of                                                               
Indianapolis, Denver  Public School District all  are exceptional                                                               
authorizers.    What   makes  these  entities  stand   out  is  a                                                               
commitment  to authorizing,  and in  some ways  they are  single-                                                               
purposed  entities that  focus to  ensure quality  approvals, and                                                               
when a school  is closed it is  done so in a  fair, efficient and                                                               
expedient manner.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE REINBOLD asked for a listing for the committee.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS offered to distribute the list.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:16:15 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON understood the  duties of the authorizer as                                                               
stipulated  in the  bill.   He  expressed  concern that  separate                                                               
authorizers would create new school  districts that would receive                                                               
the funds.   He questioned if  new districts are created  how the                                                               
new school district would operate,  and if the decisions would be                                                               
made by the  authorizer outside the existing  school district. He                                                               
said the  committee is on the  verge of a fundamental  change and                                                               
broaching  a much  bigger question.   Wherever  the students  are                                                               
located, they are the members of  the charter school.  He offered                                                               
his belief that  the ramifications are much larger  and he didn't                                                               
feel comfortable adding it to the governor's bill.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS agreed,  noting it  is more  important to  have the                                                               
conversation and  to consider alternatives.   She said  there are                                                               
positives  and negatives  for keeping  charter schools  under the                                                               
local  school  district's authority,  but  there  are many  other                                                               
considerations,  including whether  charter schools  are a  means                                                               
for private industry to contribute.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
9:23:12 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  understood tension may exist  with funding                                                               
issues regarding  charter schools  and districts.   She  asked if                                                               
there is  subjectivity involved or whether  school districts have                                                               
specific  things they  can consider  when determining  whether to                                                               
authorize  a  charter  school.     Additionally,  is  the  school                                                               
district permitted to  consider the effect that  a charter school                                                               
may have on its budget.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:24:35 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY answered  that  AS 14.03.250  speaks to  the                                                               
governance of  a charter school.   He added that  charter schools                                                               
are the vision  of a school board and school  district to provide                                                               
an  opportunity.   He  disagreed that  school  boards don't  want                                                               
them.   He  acknowledged  some friction  can  occur with  charter                                                               
schools'  increased  autonomy.    A charter  school  may  hire  a                                                               
principal by  contract, but if  the school doesn't  perform well,                                                               
the school district doesn't have as much control.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX questioned  how the  community can  obtain                                                               
authorization  for  a charter  school  if  the school  district's                                                               
"private" vision  doesn't include  a charter  school.   She asked                                                               
for  further  clarification if  one  consideration  could be  the                                                               
effect the charter school will have on the budget.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY answered  yes;  but the  process  is at  the                                                               
local  level and  not  specified in  statutes  although it's  one                                                               
reason  the governor  put  that aspect  in  the Alaska  Education                                                               
Opportunity Act.  Thus, school boards  would need to be placed on                                                               
the record as to why a  charter school is not authorized based on                                                               
facts and findings of law.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:27:26 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  further  asked  if the  only  reason  for                                                               
denial is  the financial viability  of the district based  on the                                                               
potential number of  students to attend the charter  school how a                                                               
second authorizer  would affect the  decision.  She  suggested if                                                               
districts base  their decision on  financial viability,  a second                                                               
authorizing entity may not be  concerned with financial viability                                                               
of the school district.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:28:39 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SUSAN   MCCAULEY,  Director,   Teaching  and   Learning  Support,                                                               
Department  of Education  and Early  Development (EED),  said the                                                               
current law  allows a  local district to  deny a  charter school.                                                               
Current statute requires the EED  be informed when a school board                                                               
decides  not  to approve  a  charter  school.    There is  not  a                                                               
requirement to  share the reasons  for denial, such  as financial                                                               
impact  on  the district,  nor  does  it  provide for  an  appeal                                                               
process.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:29:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked for  clarification whether  under HB
278  -  the  governor's  bill  -  financial  impact  would  be  a                                                               
legitimate  reason for  denying  the authorization  of a  charter                                                               
school.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY answered yes.   It would be inappropriate for                                                               
a commissioner,  on appeal,  to force districts  to create  a new                                                               
charter school.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:30:59 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX related under HB  93 a charter school could                                                               
be authorized by an independent  authorizer that could impact the                                                               
financial viability of the aforementioned district.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  answered  that  an  independent  authorizer                                                               
would be responsible for authorizing a viable charter school.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  clarified that the  independent authorizer                                                               
would only  have responsibility  for the specific  charter school                                                               
and not in relation to a neighborhood public school.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  agreed that an independent  authorizer would                                                               
have sole responsible for the specific charter school.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:33:33 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CHRIS TUCK,  Alaska  State Legislature,  speaking                                                               
from  his school  board experience,  reviewed a  number of  facts                                                               
regarding the  current charter school  situation.  The  state has                                                               
received 54  charter school applications with  27 charter schools                                                               
operating since  1995, but the Juneau  Borealis Montessori School                                                               
has been  the only  application denied.   Twelve  charter schools                                                               
never  opened,  some  due to  organizational  difficulties.    He                                                               
reported that of those four  closed due to financial issues, four                                                               
closed due  to low enrollment, three  converted to correspondence                                                               
schools,  one closed  and  reopened as  a  district program,  one                                                               
application   was  withdrawn   and  one   is  awaiting   adequate                                                               
facilities.    Thus,  the  charter  school  approvals  have  been                                                               
successful  in  the  state.   He  emphasized  the  importance  of                                                               
benchmarks to  assure charter schools  have an opportunity  to be                                                               
successful.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  recalled serving  on the  school board,  noting the                                                               
school board didn't  deny applications but some never  made it to                                                               
that level.   She pointed  out a  process in the  governor's bill                                                               
that allows for an additional appeal, which has some merit.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
9:35:56 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK addressed  the waiting  list issue  and said                                                               
bridging the funding gap may be  helpful.  He referred to a chart                                                               
in   members'  packets,   entitled   "Anchorage  Charter   School                                                               
Facilities  Analysis"  and  said   the  percentage  of  rent  per                                                               
facility ranges from 6-28 percent,  but some charter schools were                                                               
converted  to  home school  programs  and  the Aquarian  facility                                                               
rents an older facility.   Thus, removing those schools increases                                                               
the rent  from 24-28 percent.   He  suggested an increase  to the                                                               
Base Student  Allocation (BSA) of  10 percent to  charter schools                                                               
to offset facilities' costs.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:38:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  related  a  charter  school  startup  grant                                                               
program in  statute is due  to expire  in 2015, but  removing the                                                               
sunset   provision   could   assist  in   start-up   costs   with                                                               
approximately a  $500 per  student grant.   Another  provision in                                                               
statute  allows for  federal funding  and eliminating  the sunset                                                               
could provide additional funds if the federal program is funded.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:39:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  asked   for  further  clarification  on                                                               
federal funds for charter schools.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK  answered that the state  hasn't received any                                                               
funding.    In  2003,  the legislature  established  the  law  to                                                               
receive  the funds,  but federal  funds have  not been  available                                                               
since  that time.    The  sunset could  be  removed  in order  to                                                               
receive these funds if they become available.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:40:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK suggested the  committee may wish to consider                                                               
converting neighborhood  schools to  charter schools,  which will                                                               
provide choice and all or part  of the school could be converted.                                                               
This could be  made part of the application process  and it could                                                               
free  up  the  wait  list  as well  as  the  opportunity  to  use                                                               
established school  transportation.   A grandfather  clause would                                                               
allow students to remain in the school.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS commented that in Nome,  a charter school is next to                                                               
the public school and shares facility assets.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:42:00 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   REINBOLD  related   that  repurposing   existing                                                               
facilities is important and a  number of schools in Anchorage and                                                               
Eagle River  are at 80  percent capacity.  She  couldn't remember                                                               
the statute that  directs the commissioner to do  so, but offered                                                               
to  work with  Representative Tuck  on the  issue of  repurposing                                                               
schools since charter schools could have first right of refusal                                                                 
on buildings.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE TUCK suggested a state grant program that was                                                                    
repealed in 2003 offered $500 per student for start-up costs                                                                    
could be reinstated.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:44:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RUBY ALLEN, Student, Fireweed Academy, read from prepared                                                                       
testimony, as follows:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     For  the  record  I  am  a 6th  grade  student  in  the                                                                    
     Fireweed  Academy in  Homer, Alaska.    At our  charter                                                                    
     school the teachers are flexible  to our personal goals                                                                    
     and if I know how  to make masterpiece sentences then I                                                                    
     am  [allowed]  to  work  on   my  own  projects  in  my                                                                    
     [interests]  as  long  as  they  fit  the  New  English                                                                    
     Standards for [Language] Arts.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     We  need teachers  in charter  schools who  believe and                                                                    
     know how to teach according to our school.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     My  classmates in  the room  [appreciate] learning  how                                                                    
     bills are  passed [especially] if  they are  making our                                                                    
     school better and improving the  way we learn.  We love                                                                    
     our school and we want to support it.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
9:45:08 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CLAIRE BRYANT, Student, Fireweed Academy, read from prepared                                                                    
testimony, as follows:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     For the record  my name is Claire Bryant and  I'm a 6th                                                                    
     grade student at Fireweed Academy.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     My  classmates  and I  wanted  a  different format  for                                                                    
     completing  our  literature  studies.    Yesterday  our                                                                    
     teacher gave  us the new  Alaska English  Language Arts                                                                    
     Standards  and  allowed  us to  create  the  literature                                                                    
     studies for next  quarter.  We couldn't  have done this                                                                    
     if we  had a traditionally trained  teacher that wasn't                                                                    
     interested in our charter school.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Thank you for working to  approve charter school law in                                                                    
     Alaska.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
9:45:48 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KIKI  ABRAHAMSON, Principal;  Teacher,  Fireweed Academy,  stated                                                               
that she  has been  with Fireweed  Academy since  1997.   She has                                                               
found the  most effective way to  teach is to bring  the children                                                               
to  the  Legislative  Information  Office (LIO)  to  watch  these                                                               
hearings and follow  the bills that affect us.   She was happy to                                                               
have  this opportunity  to testify.   She  directed attention  to                                                               
Section 8  of HB 93 and  AS 14.03.270(b).  She  was uncertain how                                                               
this language would solve one  of the main problems with staffing                                                               
situations.   She suggested the  committee consider  an amendment                                                               
to existing language in AS 14.03.270(a), which read:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
        (a) A teacher or employee may not be assigned to                                                                        
        a charter school unless the teacher or employee                                                                         
     consents to the assignment.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. ABRAHAMSON  indicated the district  can still force  a school                                                               
to  take an  unassigned tenured  teacher due  to the  language in                                                               
subsection  (b)   since  it  requires  adherence   to  negotiated                                                               
agreements or collective bargaining.   She suggested an amendment                                                               
be considered that would add  "unless the principal and [academic                                                               
policy committee] APC  consent to the assignment."   She referred                                                               
to the  authority in  existing AS  14.03.255 (b),  in particular,                                                               
paragraph  (8),  which  read,  "the   name  of  the  teacher,  or                                                               
teachers, who,  by agreement between  the charter school  and the                                                               
teacher, will  teach in the  charter school;" and  emphasized the                                                               
importance of  hiring teachers  who are  aligned with  a school's                                                               
philosophy, mission, founding principles, and methods.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS agreed with the need for the amendment.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON offered to  distribute the written comments                                                               
previously submitted by Ms. Abrahamson.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:50:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOEY  ESKI, Chair,  Academic Policy  Committee, Aquarian  Charter                                                               
School said  an informal vote  was taken by five  charter schools                                                               
and one  home school regarding  multiple authorizers  resulted in                                                               
particular  concerns, which  included:   accountability, lowering                                                               
standards,  and possible  outside interests  capitalizing on  the                                                               
local  charter  school  system.    The  vote  was  unanimous  for                                                               
facility based  schools not having  outside authorizers  except a                                                               
few people from  the home school based charter  schools that felt                                                               
additional authorizers might give them a potential advantage.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
9:52:23 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON recalled the  concern in the Anchorage area                                                               
for  pupil transportation.   He  referred  to a  memo from  legal                                                               
services  dated  3/4/14  that indicated  transportation  must  be                                                               
provided on  existing routes, which  would solve a number  of the                                                               
issues.    He  asked  whether   some  charter  school  issues  in                                                               
Anchorage  would   be  solved  if  the   district  was  providing                                                               
transportation   for   charter   school  students   on   existing                                                               
neighborhood school transportation routes.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS  clarified  that  a  bus  enroute  to  neighborhood                                                               
schools could  transport charter  school students since  they are                                                               
all public school students.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. ESKI  offered her  belief that  it would  be helpful  for the                                                               
Aquarian Charter School  to be integrated into  the school system                                                               
and  any pupil  transportation  support could  help.   A  primary                                                               
criticism  of   charter  schools  has  been   that  disadvantaged                                                               
families cannot partake due to transportation issues.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
9:55:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS said she has worked  with Mr. Eddy Jeans to craft an                                                               
amendment for pupil transportation to  be included in the bill to                                                               
allow this  type of activity.   She  characterized it as  a "win-                                                               
win" situation.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:57:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
NATASHA VON IMHOF, Vice President,  Anchorage School Board (ASB),                                                               
paraphrased  from  a  prepared statement,  as  follows  [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     After reading  the bill, our  impression is  the bill's                                                                    
     intent is to "empower  entities outside the traditional                                                                    
     public  K-12  milieu to  grant  charters,  in hopes  to                                                                    
     provide diversity  in perspective about  school choice-                                                                    
     and bring a wider range  of knowledge and experience to                                                                    
     bear on charter growth."                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     We  are  assuming  then- that  authorizers  would  have                                                                    
     sufficient information  and expertise -at the  point of                                                                    
     charter  application-   to  judge  the   likely  future                                                                    
     performance of schools.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     On one  hand, giving an  entity like the  University of                                                                    
     Alaska or Alaska Pacific  University the opportunity to                                                                    
     be  an authorizer  could make  sense. In  fact, we  are                                                                    
     engaging  in discussions  right now  about creating  an                                                                    
     ASD/ UAA partnership around an elementary school.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     However, the  ability for  another authorizer  -such as                                                                    
     one  with  less   educational  expertise--  could  pose                                                                    
     problems  down  the road.    In  2009, the  Center  for                                                                    
     Research  on   Education  Outcomes  (CREDO)   based  at                                                                    
     Stanford  University   partnered  with  15   states  to                                                                    
     consolidate   longitudinal  student-level   achievement                                                                    
     data  for the  purpose  of creating  a national  pooled                                                                    
     analysis of  the impact of  charter schools  on student                                                                    
     learning  gains. The  study  found  that, "where  state                                                                    
     legislation provides for multiple  charters, there is a                                                                    
     significant   negative  impact   on  student   academic                                                                    
     growth."                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The success  of the  charter school is  often dependent                                                                    
     on  the   ability  of  the  authorizer   to  execute  a                                                                    
     meaningful and  sustainable academic program,  which is                                                                    
     not easy to do. Success  also depends on the vision and                                                                    
     leadership  qualities of  the  principal, whether  they                                                                    
     are able to attract  and retain excellent teachers, and                                                                    
     whether students there best  suited for that particular                                                                    
     learning style or environment.  There is wide disparity                                                                    
     in  performance between  charters,  with some  charters                                                                    
     actually  reporting less  performance gains  than their                                                                    
     local public school counterparts.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
9:59:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. VON  IMHOF added  that she heard  earlier today  about a                                                                    
charter school wanting to operate  as its own district.  She                                                                    
expressed  significant  concern  since charter  schools  are                                                                    
"pseudo-private schools" and  Alaska's Constitution does not                                                                    
allow  that.   Secondly, the  districts provide  significant                                                                    
support  in  the  form of  maintenance,  special  education,                                                                    
career  and technology,  English language  learners, gifted,                                                                    
as  well as  information technology  (IT), human  resources,                                                                    
purchasing,   and  more.     She   said  the   largest  cost                                                                    
prohibitory  for  a charter  school  is  the facility.    In                                                                    
response   to   Representative    Reinbold's   comments   on                                                                    
repurposing,  the ASB  has been  considering ways  to assist                                                                    
charter schools.   She asked to state the  ASD's interest in                                                                    
this regard.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
10:01:38 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. VON IMHOF continued reading [original punctuation                                                                           
provided]:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     One of  the concerns from  our board is that  if public                                                                    
     money  is going  to be  used to  fund Charter  schools,                                                                    
     then  the publically  elected  board  should have  some                                                                    
     oversight on the authorization of  those charters.  The                                                                    
     question  remains, who  will be  ultimately responsible                                                                    
     if the  charter school  does not  perform well  for any                                                                    
     reason (financial problems, academic performance).                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
10:02:20 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  REINBOLD  offered  her belief  that  funding  and                                                               
control may  be the  focus rather than  in outcomes  and parental                                                               
involvement.  She felt that  more parental involvement comes from                                                               
having more choice and "one  size certainly doesn't fit all." She                                                               
pointed  out that  some public  schools  aren't serving  students                                                               
well.   She  cited the  NAEP proficiency  statistics and  said in                                                               
order to be  successful the mold has to be  broken and the system                                                               
must reward success and reduce dropouts.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:04:03 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL REHBERG,  Member, Academic Policy  Committee, Winterberry                                                               
Charter   School,   stated   that  Winterberry   Charter   School                                                               
(Winterberry) is  one of the  newest charter schools,  founded in                                                               
2005.  In  2012, Winterberry moved into a new  facility.  He said                                                               
that Winterberry  has used  BSA allotments  to fund  the facility                                                               
and  he reported  that the  school can  afford one  classroom per                                                               
grade, an office,  and a workroom for faculty.   He said that Ms.                                                               
Eski's  previous  testimony  covered Winterberry's  concerns  and                                                               
needs.    He  suggested  that   funding  a  larger  increase  and                                                               
predictable annual change  to the BSA is what  could help charter                                                               
schools be  successful today.   He  emphasized the  importance of                                                               
the BSA.   The school works  to keep its number  up and currently                                                               
has 28  students per classroom.   He referred to HB  278 and said                                                               
the mechanism in the bill  allows for grants for construction and                                                               
facility  maintenance.   He further  suggested that  it would  be                                                               
helpful to  expand this  provision and allow  funding to  be used                                                               
for purchasing existing facilities.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
10:07:12 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  for an  explanation of  the appeals                                                               
process and the criteria used  to forward or deny [charter school                                                               
applications].  He suggested a  process, such that a commissioner                                                               
could  request  additional information  from  a  school board  or                                                               
charter school for further consideration.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS   acknowledged  it  does  appear   that  a  hostile                                                               
environment could be created if  the commissioner did not see any                                                               
reason to deny an application but  the district was opposed.  She                                                               
offered  her belief  that the  intent is  for charter  schools to                                                               
have a place in the public  school system.  She supported charter                                                               
schools being honored in the same way.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY answered that  the current appeals process is                                                               
to ensure clarity at the local  level based on facts and findings                                                               
of  law.   An appeal  could be  brought to  the commissioner  and                                                               
under  HB 278  it  could be  remanded back  to  the local  school                                                               
board;  the commissioner  could  agree with  the  denial; or  the                                                               
commissioner could  suggest approval.   He reported  that denials                                                               
and  approvals   subsequently  go  before  the   State  Board  of                                                               
Education (BOE) for final decision.   He anticipated that if both                                                               
entities have  denied the application,  it stands to  reason that                                                               
the BOE would  uphold that decision.  He reiterated  that when he                                                               
reviews appeals, he  would be reviewing the decision  made at the                                                               
local  level  based on  facts  and  findings  of law,  but  other                                                               
criteria is not spelled out in the bill.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
10:10:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked whether  having the  commissioner in                                                               
the process  to request additional information  from the district                                                               
and charter school  applicant may be helpful  without creating an                                                               
adversarial situation.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY answered  yes; that would be the  intent.  He                                                               
said it would  take a lot for a commissioner  to overturn a local                                                               
decision.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS  theorized  her understanding  and  said  the  bill                                                               
appears  to  allow  the  school   district  to  perform  its  due                                                               
diligence.  She could see that the proposed process has merit.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
10:13:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  expressed concern for  the lack of  a time                                                               
limit  for local  school boards  to approve  or deny  the charter                                                               
school.  She asked what would  be reasonable length of time would                                                               
be reasonable as a cut off.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY deferred to  local districts to recommend the                                                               
length of time for the process.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
10:15:21 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS  asked  whether this  is  standardized  across  all                                                               
districts.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY answered  no;  there is  not a  standardized                                                               
form.  The  expectation for the charter school  structure is done                                                               
at the local level.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  asked if it would  be helpful to have  this process                                                               
standardized  since charter  schools  are often  put together  by                                                               
parents.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY responded  that it would create  a clean, but                                                               
not  necessarily   a  more  effective  process   to  develop  the                                                               
criteria;  however,  local,  elected  board  members  create  the                                                               
vision for  their school district.   He acknowledged it may  be a                                                               
sloppier approach.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
10:17:14 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  asked for further  clarification on the  process of                                                               
the paperwork.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCCAULEY  explained that while  districts aren't  required to                                                               
use  a  standardized template  for  the  application for  charter                                                               
schools,  one  exists  and  most  districts  utilize  it.    Some                                                               
districts  have  additional  requirements or  request  additional                                                               
information.   Statute  and regulation  do not  require that  any                                                               
template be used nor criteria that  a school district must use to                                                               
evaluate a  charter school application.   Most use or  modify the                                                               
template but they don't have to do so.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS  related  her understanding  there  is  a  starting                                                               
point.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
10:19:02 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  returned to  the topic of  charter schools                                                               
having  to  accept  a  tenured  teacher.   She  asked  whether  a                                                               
neighborhood  school  principal  would have  the  opportunity  to                                                               
accept or not hire a particular teacher.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCCAULEY answered that the  neighborhood schools are directed                                                               
to   hire   through   the  district   teacher   bargaining   unit                                                               
negotiations, without much principal input, save for new hires.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked for  further clarification on whether                                                               
a  tenured teacher  only speaking  English  could end  up in  the                                                               
Spanish immersion school through union requirements.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MCCAULEY  answered she  wouldn't  take  it  that far.    She                                                               
recalled earlier  testimony with respect  to a lack  of exemption                                                               
from transfer  requirement, pointing  to the language  in charter                                                               
school  statutes  that  clearly   states  that  local  negotiated                                                               
agreement provisions apply; however,  charter schools can request                                                               
an exemption, which  are not automatic, but must be  agreed to by                                                               
the  charter school,  the local  association, and  district.   In                                                               
response to  a question,  Ms. McCauley  indicated that  the local                                                               
association is the teacher's union.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked whether  a situation could  arise in                                                               
which  a   language  immersion  school  may   receive  a  teacher                                                               
transferred in that doesn't speak the language.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCCAULEY answered that it could happen.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
10:24:04 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  remarked that  it is not  the intent  of the                                                               
district, the board,  or the local association  to place teachers                                                               
in these types of situations.   A protection is in place to honor                                                               
teachers and  give them first choice  during decreased enrollment                                                               
instead of  selecting new hires,  he said,  noting hypothetically                                                               
it could occur although it is no one's intention to do so.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTIS recalled  that this  has occurred,  which may  have                                                               
been unintended consequences.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
10:24:58 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether  the highly qualified teacher                                                               
requirement  applies or  if teachers  are  moved into  situations                                                               
that are not so.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MCCAULEY   explained  that   highly  qualified   status  has                                                               
certification  status  which  would be  considered  in  reviewing                                                               
requirements and  rights.  She  related a scenario  to illustrate                                                               
that a  teacher certified in  physical education could  be placed                                                               
in a  language immersion school if  the certification requirement                                                               
is for  physical education  but the  language consideration  is a                                                               
secondary  consideration.   Thus, the  teacher with  the required                                                               
certification  and  transfer  rights  will  have  met  the  legal                                                               
requirements and local negotiated  agreements for transferring in                                                               
to  the  physical  education position  in  a  language  immersion                                                               
school.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
[HB 93 and HB 278 were held over.]                                                                                              

Document Name Date/Time Subjects