Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

02/08/2005 11:00 AM EDUCATION


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11:07:00 AM Start
11:08:56 AM HB65
11:14:35 AM HB1 || HB18 || HB73 || HB30 || HB65
12:24:00 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 1 INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 18 INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 73 INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 30 APPROP: K-12 EDU OPERATING/DEBT EXPENSES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 65 APPROP: K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
                                                                                                                                
HB 1 - INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                                
HB 18 - INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                               
HB 73 - INCREASE AMT OF BASE STUDENT ALLOCATION                                                                               
HB 30 - APPROP: K-12 EDU OPERATING/DEBT EXPENSES                                                                              
HB  65-APPROP: K-12 PUBLIC EDUCATION                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR NEUMAN announced that the  committee would be hearing HOUSE                                                               
BILL NO. 1, HOUSE  BILL NO. 18, and HOUSE BILL  NO. 73, which all                                                               
address  the base  student  allocation used  in  the formula  for                                                               
state funding of  public education; as well as HOUSE  BILL NO. 30                                                               
and HOUSE BILL NO. 65,  which are both acts making appropriations                                                               
for K-12 education operating and school debt expenses.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  NEUMAN stated  that there  would be  general testimony  at                                                               
this meeting.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:14:35 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MELODY DOUGLAS, Chief financial  Officer, Kenai Peninsula Borough                                                               
School  District,  expressed   appreciation  for  the  governor's                                                               
proposal  and for  its shift  in philosophy  for K-12  education.                                                               
She explained  that it  sets the  funding for  two years,  and it                                                               
would stabilize  the process now experienced  in school districts                                                               
of non-retaining and  rehiring of staff based  on availability of                                                               
funding.  She  said the [Kenai Peninsula  Borough School District                                                               
(KPBSD)] is a proponent for  funding inside the cap for PERS/TRS.                                                               
She  described  the KPBSD  changes  in  staffing formulas  in  an                                                               
attempt to  recover from  cuts made  in recent  years.   She said                                                               
that    this   district    does,   however,    utilize   regional                                                               
administrators,  regional  librarians, regional  counselors,  and                                                               
regional "quest delivery" due to  ongoing reductions.  She opined                                                               
that  this  is a  major  departure  for  school districts.    She                                                               
reminded  the committee  that the  KPBSD just  reduced its  staff                                                               
members  and certified  teaching staff  in the  classrooms by  10                                                               
percent.  She explained that  health care costs are increasing as                                                               
are insurances:  property, liability, and workers compensation.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. DOUGLAS stated that the  Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board                                                               
revised the  number needed  to deal  with staffing  challenges to                                                               
$5,086  with a  request  for additional  funding, targeting  cost                                                               
differential   challenges  for   the  KPBSD.     She   asked  for                                                               
consideration of $5,086  for a base student  allocation on behalf                                                               
of the students  in Alaska.  She also asked  for consideration of                                                               
the governor's  proposal for  forward funding.   She  opined that                                                               
these  changes  would  be  momentous  in  this  state  and  would                                                               
stabilize education.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
11:17:52 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO inquired as  to staff reductions and whether                                                               
they are a function of  declining student enrollment or declining                                                               
revenues.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. DOUGLAS stated  that it is a composite of  both elements plus                                                               
increases in PERS/TRS costs.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked how  many teachers  could be  added if                                                               
the  $5,086 figure  was used  and where  the governor's  proposal                                                               
would leave the school districts in terms of staffing.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DOUGLAS stated  that the  $5,086 figure  would allow  for an                                                               
addition  of approximately  65 staff  to the  school district  to                                                               
address  classroom needs.   The  governor's proposal  would allow                                                               
for  the  addition of  approximately  10  certified staff.    The                                                               
governor's proposal would leave the  KPBSD short $1.7 million; in                                                               
order to break  even on the preliminary budget,  the base student                                                               
allocation would have to be $4,980.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked if the  governor's proposal would allow                                                               
for  the addition  of 10  staff or  if it  would leave  the KPBSD                                                               
short.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. DOUGLAS stated  that the governor's proposal  is $1.7 million                                                               
short of the preliminary budget,  and that includes 10 additional                                                               
certified staff  members targeted  for K-3.   The  district would                                                               
need  to either  cut  costs in  other areas  or  allocate a  $1.7                                                               
million fund balance allocation.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  if the  governor's proposal,  left as                                                               
is, would allow for an addition or a reduction of staff.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. DOUGLAS stated  that if the governor's  proposal were funded,                                                               
as it  is, the KPBSD would  be required to either  allocate "fund                                                               
balance" or cut costs.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked whether,  if the  governor's proposal                                                               
passes, the next  action taken would be to cut  ten positions, or                                                               
keep the 10 positions and do something different                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DOUGLAS,  in  response to  Representative  Gatto's  inquiry,                                                               
replied  that the  Kenai Peninsula  Borough School  Board directs                                                               
the budget  and it  would be  to their  discretion to  make those                                                               
decisions.    She  opined  that they  would  leave  the  staffing                                                               
formulas  as presented,  and  make  cuts in  other  areas of  the                                                               
budget.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:22:36 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SAMMY CRAWFORD, President, Kenai  Peninsula Borough School Board,                                                               
stated that the two year funding  is appreciated as it helps with                                                               
planning.   She said  that "this" proposal  does not  improve the                                                               
short term  situation.  She  explained that the KPBSD  would like                                                               
to  cut  the  pupil-teacher  ratio  and  rectify  the  area  cost                                                               
differential as  there are  many schools off  of the  road system                                                               
and their costs are so much  higher.  She said that an additional                                                               
$114 dollars on the base student allocation has been requested.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR inquired as to Kenai's allowable expenditures.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. CRAWFORD stated, "they are at the max."                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked what the  class size estimates would be                                                               
with  the  governor's  proposal  compared  to  the  school  board                                                               
proposal.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. CRAWFORD stated that  a ratio of 18:1 for K-3  and 24:1 in 4-                                                               
12 would  be desirable.   She pointed out  that as of  now, there                                                               
are higher student ratios in all grades.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:25:46 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
DAVE JONES,  Director, Finance Department, Kodiak  Island Borough                                                               
School District,  stated that he  would address all of  the bills                                                               
together.    He  said  that  the  Kodiak  Island  Borough  School                                                               
District,  (KIBSD), is  requesting a  base student  allocation of                                                               
$4,995  setting the  total cost  estimated for  the state  at $85                                                               
million,  as  compared  to  the   governor's  $62  million.    He                                                               
explained  that that  figure includes  the  money for  retirement                                                               
within the  foundation formula,  and that  by keeping  that money                                                               
within the  formula, it increases  the anility for  local burough                                                               
support by approximately $200,000.   He emphasized that the KIBSD                                                               
is  appreciative of  the governor's  proposal but  it leaves  the                                                               
school district short by about  $90,000; the increase in the base                                                               
student allocation value increases the  ability of the borough to                                                               
give approximately $492,000.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. JONES  explained that  the borough, for  the past  two years,                                                               
has funded  the school district  at the cap,  and so even  if the                                                               
borough can  fund at the  cap, there  will be cuts  with programs                                                               
and staff due to inflation costs.   He explained that rising fuel                                                               
costs have increased $180,000 from  last year and described it as                                                               
a 76 percent  increase.  He stated that  with additional funding,                                                               
teachers could be hired at all  levels to help with math, science                                                               
and reading as  well as deal with issues regarding  No Child Left                                                               
Behind (NCLB) standards.   He said the high  school population is                                                               
increasing  and  the principal  has  asked  for three  additional                                                               
teachers next year to address  math, reading, and science problem                                                               
areas.  He expressed his appreciation  for the work that is being                                                               
done to address these issues.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
11:31:40 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked Mr. Jones if  he was in favor of early                                                               
funding or forward funding.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JONES stated  that he  is  in favor  of early  funding.   In                                                               
response to  Representative Gatto's follow up  question regarding                                                               
the effects of increasing fuel costs,  he clarified that he is in                                                               
favor of an  early resolution of funding, where he  would hear by                                                               
early  March what  the funding  or,  at least,  the base  student                                                               
allocation for the next fiscal year  was.  He explained that this                                                               
allows  for the  hiring of  teachers and  eliminates the  loss of                                                               
teachers  looking for  jobs in  other districts.   Currently,  he                                                               
said, contracts  are issued in April  or May with an  estimate of                                                               
what the student count will be  in October.  He explained that if                                                               
there is a  large, unexpected decrease in  student population, it                                                               
is  paid  back out  of  the  "fund  balance", or  by  eliminating                                                               
teachers in the middle of the school year.  He said:                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     What I call  forward funding is, ... we  would have the                                                                    
     funding that  you pass  in March  based on  this year's                                                                    
     180 day student  count.  And if  people have increases,                                                                    
     they could get ... an  increase on the student count in                                                                    
     the fall.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA restated  that  using  Mr. Jones's  proposal                                                               
would enable  the addition of  three teachers and asked  if class                                                               
sizes have increased over the past two years.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. JONES stated  that it depends how those  [added] teachers are                                                               
targeted.    At  the  elementary  level,  he  explained,  reading                                                               
specialists  are needed,  not  an extra  classroom  teacher.   He                                                               
explained  that  at the  high  school  level  there would  be  an                                                               
effect,  and  if  three  teachers were  added,  it  would  reduce                                                               
student numbers from 30 to 27.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO said that Mr.  Jones's mentioned a number of                                                               
$4,995 and  that Ms. Douglas  gave a  number of $4,980,  plus the                                                               
KPBSD's revised  number of  $5,086.  He  stated that  when people                                                               
from  the  same  district  come up  with  different  numbers  and                                                               
different  needs, it  becomes complicated  for  the committee  to                                                               
know exactly what those needs are.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. JONES described  the number he presented to  the committee as                                                               
the number  the KIBSD Board  of Education decided on  last night.                                                               
He  explained  that  the  PERS/TRS  situation  doesn't  hit  each                                                               
district the same and is a  variable that depends on staff and on                                                               
debt  that has  built up;  the  differences in  PERS/TRS make  it                                                               
challenging for  each district to  agree on  what is needed.   He                                                               
described  health insurance  as  the other  variable within  each                                                               
district, and  noted that some  districts are dependent  upon the                                                               
previous year's claims,  for example, "if you have a  bad year in                                                               
claims then you have a spike in health insurance increases."                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
11:37:47 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JOE  BANGHARDT, Superintendent,  Iditarod  Area School  District,                                                               
submitted  written testimony  to the  House Special  Committee on                                                               
Education, which read [original punctuation provided]:                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     For  the   record,  my  name  is   Joe  Banghardt,  I'm                                                                    
     superintendent  of the  Iditarod Area  School District.                                                                    
     I  come to  you  today  as a  superintendent  and as  a                                                                    
     concerned Alaskan.  My job, as  you know, is to run the                                                                    
     school  district, which  involves tending  to important                                                                    
     details  like trying  to balance  the books,  but also,                                                                    
     and more  importantly, helping to ensure  that Alaska's                                                                    
     children  are well  educated and  prepared to  graduate                                                                    
     and meet  the challenges  that meet  them in  the world                                                                    
     outside  of our  small school  district.   Allow me  to                                                                    
     familiarize  you   with  some  of  the   challenges  of                                                                    
     operating  this  school  district:  The  Iditarod  Area                                                                    
     School District is  not located on the  road system and                                                                    
     does  not  receive  any  local  financial  support  for                                                                    
     operation of  schools.  We are  currently projecting at                                                                    
     least  a $500,000  deficit for  the  Fiscal Year  2006.                                                                    
     This  deficit takes  in to  consideration current  fund                                                                    
     balance,  increases in  TRS and  PERS,  cost of  living                                                                    
     adjustments for Certified and  Classified Staff and the                                                                    
     loss  of   several  grants  that  impact   the  overall                                                                    
     district  budget.   This does  not include  a projected                                                                    
     25%  increase in  fuel cost  nor the  impact this  will                                                                    
     have on cost  of travel, freight, and  electric cost at                                                                    
     all schools.  Recently  at two villages the water/sewer                                                                    
     companies where  taken over by other  organizations and                                                                    
     they  raised our  rates from  $600.00 a  month at  both                                                                    
     sites  to 1,200.00  a month.    This is  a 200  percent                                                                    
     increase in  cost bore  directly by  the district.   We                                                                    
     are  currently  talking   with  another  village  local                                                                    
     utility organization  that has  proposed a  118 percent                                                                    
     increase in electric cost.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Taking all  of this into consideration  then looking at                                                                    
     HB 1,  73, and  18 we  are concerned.   If  the highest                                                                    
     proposed  offer  (HB 18)  was  approved  and after  our                                                                    
     district  receives the  adjustment  for  the floor  the                                                                    
     total  net gain  to the  Iditarod Area  School District                                                                    
     would only be $62,000.   The floor is determined by the                                                                    
     states  formula   that  compares  the   old  foundation                                                                    
     formula  to  the new  and  makes  adjustments for  many                                                                    
     districts in what is called  the floor.  This figure is                                                                    
     decreased  yearly  and  with  the  current  figure  our                                                                    
     district will not receive the  majority of funds.  When                                                                    
     we  look  at  what  we   actually  need  just  to  keep                                                                    
     operating  for  next  year it  is  a  conservative  10%                                                                    
     increase.   If HB 18  was approved  and that is  all we                                                                    
     receive  this  amounts  to   a  1.3  percent  increase.                                                                    
     What's  more, we  need to  do more  than just  keep our                                                                    
     head above  water if we're  going to get  Alaska's kids                                                                    
     educated.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     In  order  for a  school  or  district to  meet  Annual                                                                    
     Yearly  Progress each  year,  a series  of 31  possible                                                                    
     individual test  must be satisfied.   The Annual Yearly                                                                    
     Progress Report  for all eight schools  in the district                                                                    
     gives  a clear  picture  of immediate  need for  severe                                                                    
     intervention.  Of these eight  schools two are at level                                                                    
     III, two  at Level II, and  two at Level I.   The other                                                                    
     two are  so small we  cannot obtain an  accurate figure                                                                    
     to  determine  AYP.   When  we  examine  state  testing                                                                    
     results for  all students in  grades 3-12 one  site has                                                                    
     92%  students  who  are   not  proficient  in  reading,                                                                    
     another 90%, another 86%, with  a district wide average                                                                    
     of students  not proficient in  reading being 65%.   We                                                                    
     are  required  to  designate more  money  to  meet  the                                                                    
     standards  set  by  NCLB  yet   we  are  not  receiving                                                                    
     adequate money from the state or federal government.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
11:40:39 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  Mr. Banghardt  if he  had a  proposed                                                               
base student allocation that would  keep the district from making                                                               
any substancial cuts this year.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
ISABELLE  HARRINGTON,  Manager,   Business  Department,  Iditarod                                                               
School  District,  stated that  they  have  not  come up  with  a                                                               
proposed  base student  allocation  that would  help  them.   She                                                               
explained  that in  this situation,  when the  base goes  up, the                                                               
funding floor goes down.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
11:41:42 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CAROL  DOYLE,  Superintendent,  Alaska Gateway  School  District,                                                               
submitted written  testimony to the committee  and read [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Thank you for  the opportunity to speak  with you about                                                                    
     our district's needs today.   Here at Alaska Gateway we                                                                    
     appreciate all you have done  in the past for education                                                                    
     and that  you have focused  on education as  a priority                                                                    
     in our state.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     First of  all, I would  like to  tell you a  little bit                                                                    
     about  our district.   It  is a  district of  about 450                                                                    
     students.   These students are  enrolled in 7  sites in                                                                    
     our  district.    These sites  include  Tanacross,  Dot                                                                    
     Lake,  Mentasta, Tetlin,  Northway, Eagle,  Tok, and  a                                                                    
     district  only  Correspondence   School.    Except  for                                                                    
     Tanacross  which is  12  miles from  Tok,  most of  the                                                                    
     other sites  are a good  hour's drive from  the central                                                                    
     office  with Eagle  being 173  miles  from the  central                                                                    
     location.  Eagle is only  accessible by charter plane 7                                                                    
     months  out of  the year  and a  4 hour  drive on  dirt                                                                    
     roads  the other  months when  the road  is maintained.                                                                    
     Our school  enrollments range anywhere  from 10  to 220                                                                    
     students,  with  half  the  students  in  the  district                                                                    
     residing in Tok School.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     All  of our  funding  comes  from the  state.   At  the                                                                    
     present  time, even  if the  Governor's  plan makes  it                                                                    
     through the legislature, we will  be $559,000 short for                                                                    
     FY 06 to maintain the  budget and expenses we currently                                                                    
     have this year.  Increased  costs in TRS, PERS, medical                                                                    
     insurance for  employees, fuel, maintenance on  6 older                                                                    
     buildings, along with some  declining enrollment in Tok                                                                    
     and Correspondence  School attribute to this  loss.  If                                                                    
     the  district  has to  cut  $559,000  dollars from  its                                                                    
     budget, there will be many  program cuts and staff cuts                                                                    
     throughout  the district.    The  district has  already                                                                    
     been cutting  over the  last three to  five years.   We                                                                    
     have lost all the fine  arts and vocational programs at                                                                    
     the smaller sites.   The district has  cut 11 certified                                                                    
     staff over  the last  several years along  with several                                                                    
     classified staff.  Custodian time  has been cut in half                                                                    
     and  all  small  schools  less than  40  students  have                                                                    
     minimal secretary time,  about an hour a  day, if that.                                                                    
     This  year we  had  to  use half  our  reserve to  fund                                                                    
     education in this district after  our count proved that                                                                    
     we were 48  students short of our prediction.   We have                                                                    
     also  had  to cut  the  hazard  busing route  for  cold                                                                    
     weather  days even  with temperatures  in excess  of 60                                                                    
     degrees below zero last year and  this.  As a matter of                                                                    
     information  for you,  the  money  given the  districts                                                                    
     this  year  for  increases  in TRS  and  PERS  was  not                                                                    
     enough.    Our  costs  for TRS  and  PERS  amounted  to                                                                    
     $131,507.   We received  from the  state $77,802  so we                                                                    
     had to make up the difference of $53,705 with cuts.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     At some  points in  time during the  year, here  at the                                                                    
     central office,  we have talked  about closing  some of                                                                    
     our small schools and busing  them to Tok School.  This                                                                    
     is really  not a viable  solution to our  problem since                                                                    
     our students' bus  ride would be in excess  of one hour                                                                    
     each way,  in extreme  temperatures in the  winter, and                                                                    
     on icy and snowpacked roads.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     What is  keeping our district  alive right now  is $2.4                                                                    
     millions  dollars  worth  of grants  and  $3.6  million                                                                    
     dollars  worth  of  capital   projects  for  our  aging                                                                    
     buildings,  but with  only 2  maintenance  men for  the                                                                    
     whole district,  improvements are slow.   Winter months                                                                    
     have these  two men  attending to freeze-ups  and other                                                                    
     problems  related  to   extreme  temperatures.    Title                                                                    
     grants and competitive grants pay  for many benefits to                                                                    
     our  students,  but they  cannot  pay  for teachers  to                                                                    
     teach  the basic  skills in  the classroom  required by                                                                    
     NCLB.   We  will not  be able  to come  up with  highly                                                                    
     qualified  teachers  in  each  of our  schools  by  the                                                                    
     deadline.   The small  school teachers teach  K-12, all                                                                    
     subjects.   Even  Tok School  7-12  teachers have  many                                                                    
     different preps  in order to  give our students  all of                                                                    
     what  they   need  to  meet  the   state  and  district                                                                    
     requirements. All  our schools this year  made adequate                                                                    
     yearly  progress  except  one,  but  that  will  change                                                                    
     without  the  needed  funds.   We  need  $5,362  for  a                                                                    
     student base allocation just to  keep the status quo of                                                                    
     where  we are  right now.   $559,000  worth of  cuts in                                                                    
     this district  will significantly impact  every student                                                                    
     and  they  will  not  receive   anything  close  to  an                                                                    
     adequate education.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     I have  only hit  the highlights here.   Administrative                                                                    
     staff are  few.  My job  description is Superintendent,                                                                    
     but  I  am  also  the Special  Education  Director  and                                                                    
     District  Testing  Coordinator  and  evaluate  all  the                                                                    
     small  schools' teachers,  as well  as principals,  and                                                                    
     district support  staff.  This  is a result of  cuts in                                                                    
     the  central office.  Tok  School  and Northway  School                                                                    
     principals  are the  only other  administrators in  the                                                                    
     district.   The special  programs and grant  writer for                                                                    
     the district also  teaches one class at  Tok School and                                                                    
     does not have an administrative certificate.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     We need  your help to  keep a viable education  for our                                                                    
     students in  the future.  I'm sorry, but  HB 1,  HB 73,                                                                    
     and HB  18 will not  be enough.   The most net  gain we                                                                    
     will  receive from  HB 18  is $163,389.     We will  be                                                                    
     $395,000 short  of what  we need  to give  our students                                                                    
     what they need.  Thank you  for your time and help. The                                                                    
     district  hopes  we  will   have  your  cooperation  in                                                                    
     increasing  our funding  so our  students  can have  an                                                                    
     adequate education.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON asked how many staff positions have been                                                                  
cut in the last three to five years.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. DOYLE  replied that  11 certified  staff and  8-10 classified                                                               
staff.  She explained that much  of the classified staff are paid                                                               
by title  grants and  that special  education intensive  aids are                                                               
paid out of the general funds.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO how  many  certified teachers  are in  this                                                               
district.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DOYLE  stated  that there  are  approximately  48  certified                                                               
teachers.   She further  explained that the  ratio of  student to                                                               
teacher is dependent on the school and the area.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
11:50:56 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  DOYLE, Superintendent,  Matanuska-Susitna Borough  School                                                               
District, stated  that the proposed  budget for this  district is                                                               
balanced dependent  on the governor's proposal  of $4,880 without                                                               
any cuts.  He said that  the board passed a resolution to support                                                               
$4,995 allowing for  enrichment  and enhancement of opportunities                                                               
for staff.  He explained  that last year, with additional funding                                                               
from the  legislature and approval  by the governor,  class sizes                                                               
were lowered and  additional courses were added  at high schools,                                                               
but that as of now, classroom space has run out.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOYLE  said that as a  growing school district, the  only way                                                               
to  utilize additional  money would  be  to extend  instructional                                                               
time,  restore  teaching   supplies,  improve  staff  development                                                               
efforts,  continue  with  curriculum  alignment,  add  vocational                                                               
programs  and design  interventions  to  address challenges  from                                                               
growth  and  overcrowding.   He  emphasized  that the  issues  of                                                               
additional  funding  and  PERS/TRS  are  serious,  and  that  the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna   Borough  School   District,  (MSBSD),   would                                                               
support legislative  efforts to revise  PERS/TRS.  He  added that                                                               
the MSBSD is opposed to  the area cost differential studies which                                                               
would take money from some  school districts and distribute it to                                                               
others.   He opined that  it was a flawed  study in the  past and                                                               
continues to  be.  He noted  the difficulty in addressing  a high                                                               
enough  base  student  allocation   to  offset  all  losses  from                                                               
enrollment  decreases  and,  said  that this  will  be  the  real                                                               
struggle for the  legislature this year.  He said  that the MSBSD                                                               
would support $4,995 if there was any way to address that.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked Mr. Doyle  how many certified teachers                                                               
are within the MSBSD.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOYLE said that there  are 1,000 certified teachers, but that                                                               
includes  special education  staff and  they serve  the needs  of                                                               
approximately 15,500 students.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
11:53:49 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
NICK  STAYROOK,  Chief  Information Services  Officer,  Fairbanks                                                               
Northstar  Borough  School  District,  pointed out  that  in  the                                                               
governor's  State   of  the  State   address,  two   things  were                                                               
recognized regarding education funding:   the need to help school                                                               
districts with  the TRS/PERS retirement  costs and  the increased                                                               
cost of energy, especially fuel cost.   He said there are several                                                               
bills  that allocate  additional funds  to assist  districts with                                                               
these  increased  costs.    He   opined  that  the  governor  has                                                               
addressed  the  minimum, bare  level  of  funding for  education.                                                               
Since the  passage of the  NCLB Act,  he said, schools  have been                                                               
under pressure  to increase student achievement  across all grade                                                               
levels  but can  no longer  maintain adequate  levels of  student                                                               
achievement.  He explained that  consequences for schools who are                                                               
not  making adequate  yearly progress  requirements  can be  very                                                               
severe.    He  requested  education   funding  that  goes  beyond                                                               
maintainance  level  funding,  addressing things  like  PERS/TRS,                                                               
energy costs, and  health care.  He opined  that energy resources                                                               
are needed  for educational programs  that will  assist increased                                                               
student acievement.  Mr. Stayrook  said that improved, additional                                                               
programs  are needed  to help  reach  that goal  of all  students                                                               
being proficient in  reading, writing, and math.   In summary, he                                                               
stated  that the  Fairbanks  Northstar  Borough School  District,                                                               
(FNBSD), supports early funding,  two-year funding, and increased                                                               
funding beyond what the governor has proposed.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked what  the number of certified teachers                                                               
and student estimates were for the FNBSD.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  STAYROOK  said  they have  about  1,000  certified  teachers                                                               
across the district, and approximately 15,000 students.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
11:57:17 AM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SANDY WASSILIE,  Vice President,  Kenai Peninsula  Borough School                                                               
Board, stated that she traveled  95 miles from Soldotna to attend                                                               
the  school board  meeting last  night, and  that there  are many                                                               
staff traveling  similar distances, daily.   She stated  that the                                                               
KPBSD  has  gone  through  a number  of  reductions  in  services                                                               
provided, and  now has regional administrators  in certain sites.                                                               
She  said, "On  my  side of  the peninsula,  we  have a  regional                                                               
principal serving  three schools, we  have a gifted  and talented                                                               
teacher serving  five schools."   She added  that this  is partly                                                               
due to  declining enrollments but it's  also due to an  area cost                                                               
differential created  in '97 or  '98 by  Senate Bill 36  and that                                                               
means there  isn't the same  level of support in  classrooms that                                                               
other  districts have.   In  response to  this, she  related, the                                                               
KPBSD has  increased pupil-teacher  ratio (PTR) and  balanced the                                                               
budget.   She explained  that the KPBSD  is expecting  to receive                                                               
the  governor's  increase,  and  will reduce  the  K-3  level  of                                                               
staffing.  She explained:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     That doesn't  address the secondary  level, and  we are                                                                    
     looking in  Seward at  a middle  school of  99 students                                                                    
     with  one principle  and four  teachers.   This  barely                                                                    
     covers  our  basic  subjects;   it  doesn't  cover  any                                                                    
     exploratories.   We  are  down to  bare  bones in  this                                                                    
     district and part  of it is our  area cost differential                                                                    
     problem.   We  passed on  our school  board last  night                                                                    
     what we would need to  reinstate the PTR of three years                                                                    
     ago  when  we  made  the   cuts:  ...  a  base  student                                                                    
     allocation of  $5,086, and an additional  grant of $114                                                                    
     dollars   per  student   to  address   the  area   cost                                                                    
     differential decreases.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
12:00:47 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asks  how   many  students  and  certified                                                               
teachers there are in the KPBSD.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
12:01:26 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON mentioned that  the numbers of students and                                                               
certified teachers doesn't  tell the whole story  because it does                                                               
not address how many schools there are.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:02:43 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CONNIE  NEWMAN, Superintendent,  Chatham School  District, stated                                                               
that Chatham  is a  Rural Education  Attendance Area  (REAA) that                                                               
covers  32,000  square miles  and  includes  four sites:  Angoon,                                                               
Gustavus,  Klukwan, Tenakee  Springs; Pelican  has recently  been                                                               
included.  She  expressed her thanks to the committee  and to the                                                               
governor for submitting a proposal to look at forward funding.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  NEWMAN explained  that the  Chatham School  District, (CSD),                                                               
has  experienced  a  9  percent   decline  in  enrollment  and  a                                                               
continued  decline   next  year  will  decrease   the  budget  by                                                               
$450,000.   She requested a  "hold harmless" [provision]  to make                                                               
budget adjustments over a three-year  period.  She also requested                                                               
funding  the  "Alaska Administrative  Code  (ACC)"  so that  when                                                               
districts   look   at   restructuring,  there   would   be   some                                                               
compensation  to  help  offset   the  cost  of  sharing  district                                                               
services.   She  said  that  she was  aware  of  a potential  for                                                               
funding that  could be available  if ACC funding  was considered.                                                               
Finally,  she asked  if a  message could  be sent  to the  Senate                                                               
regarding  the reconciliation  of  issues  with "E-Rate"  [common                                                               
name  for  Universal  Service Fund  for  Schools  and  Libraries]                                                               
because it impacts  the programs offered in these  areas that are                                                               
beneficial for  students.  In  Klukwan, she related,   because of                                                               
the  language  in "E-Rate",[funding]  has  been  denied, and  the                                                               
state  is  attempting to  correct  the  situation but  until  the                                                               
appeal is  done, things  like phone  services being  disabled are                                                               
occurring.   Assistance in providing  information on  what Alaska                                                               
does  to   help  fund  the   public  schools  would   be  greatly                                                               
appreciated, she related.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON asked  for an  explanantion regarding  "E-                                                               
Rate".                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. NEWMAN explained,  "this past year, what has  happened is ...                                                               
holding the funding of "E-Rate" at  the federal level to the same                                                               
standard as other  federal monies."  As a  consequence, she said,                                                               
the funding letters  did not go out to all  the applicants and it                                                               
was not determined  if they were approved or not.   She said that                                                               
Chatham and  other school districts  in the state of  Alaska were                                                               
audited  and   explained  that   that  process   required  budget                                                               
information  showing that  the CSD  could  support technology  in                                                               
addition to  whatever the federal government  contributed for "E-                                                               
Rate."  She added that state  funding gives an allocation and the                                                               
foundation amount  is what the CSD  uses to build the  budget for                                                               
student  services.   She pointed  out  that as  an REAA,  Chatham                                                               
relies  solely on  state  appropriations.   The  budget that  was                                                               
submitted  in the  audit review  to the  federal government,  she                                                               
explained,  contained  the  word  "foundation"  in  it,  and  the                                                               
application has  been denied  because there  is a  question about                                                               
the foundation concept.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
12:07:37 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
TIM STEELE,  President, Anchorage  School Board, stated  that the                                                               
[Anchorage School Board]  has been working on  the budget process                                                               
since  October and  is pleased  to have  the governor  present an                                                               
increase  in funding.   He  explained  that the  school board  is                                                               
still $10  million short  for a  maintainance-level budget.   The                                                               
balanced  budget was  passed a  week  ago, he  related, and  that                                                               
budget included  the loss of  teachers and  assistant principals,                                                               
increased  class  sizes, and  the  elimination  of at  least  one                                                               
administrative-director-level  position.    He  stated  that  the                                                               
supply budget  was cut, and  that $6.5  million was taken  out of                                                               
the "undesignated" fund.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. STEELE  explained that it  became clear at the  board meeting                                                               
that all  districts have different needs,  including continuation                                                               
of  debt  reimbursements and  increased  funding  formulas.   The                                                               
board submitted a number of  $5,027 per student which would allow                                                               
cuts that were  made in preparing the  Anchorage School District,                                                               
(ASD), budget to be reinstated.   He emphasized the difficulty in                                                               
addressing  this  funding  question,  since  federal  funding  is                                                               
likely to decrease this year.   He said that after much debate at                                                               
the school board meeting:                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     we did pass a resolution,  ... ASDR 2004-2005-10 and in                                                                    
     that  we ...  present a  case  for a  funding level  of                                                                    
     $5,120.   This funding level represents  an increase in                                                                    
     funding  which  would  allow  us  to  do  more  than  a                                                                    
     maintainance  level operation.   We  have some  serious                                                                    
     needs; ...  we would like  to decrease class  size, but                                                                    
     we also  need to make  some serious investments  in our                                                                    
     ... student  information systems  so that we  can track                                                                    
     student performance and make  fast, timely decisions on                                                                    
     how to improve student achievement.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:12:30 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CAROL COMEAU,  Superintendent, Anchorage School  District, stated                                                               
that the ASD  budget passed one week ago,  projects an enrollment                                                               
of 49,289 students, which is a  decline of 165 students from this                                                               
year.  She  said that the district has 3,211  certified staff who                                                               
are in the  "teacher's bargaining unit".  She  explained that the                                                               
board and  community have prioritized  class size for  years, but                                                               
budget cuts  have resulted in a  .25 increase in K-12  class size                                                               
which equates to about 20 teaching positions.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. COMEAU stated  if there is additional funding  built into the                                                               
governor's budget, then the ASD's  first priority will be to look                                                               
at the  class size issue.   The  10 percent supply  and equipment                                                               
cut,  she  related, has  a  direct  impact on  the  instructional                                                               
program and  will preclude purchase of  new textbooks, curriculum                                                               
changes,  and use  of  intervention materials.    She said,  "The                                                               
resolution that was approved last  night, by the board, is higher                                                               
than had been  previously discussed, but the  contention with the                                                               
board was that we  need to do more than just get  back to the $10                                                               
million that we  just cut.  We  need to do more  with class size,                                                               
we need to intervene for our  students, and we definitely need to                                                               
do  something  about  increasing  physical  activity  and  health                                                               
education  for our  young people,  among  many other  areas.   We                                                               
really thank you for your atttention."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked  what would happen to  class size under                                                               
the governor's proposal.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. COMEAU  stated that the ASD's  budget that was passed  by the                                                               
school board  a week ago uses  the governor's budget as  the base                                                               
and results in the aforementioned increase of .25 percent.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  NEUMAN  requested  that Ms.  Comeau  provide  the  figures                                                               
mentioned in writing to his office.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
12:16:28 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
JOY BEAVER, student, Juneau Douglas  High School, stated that she                                                               
spoke  to Mary  Hakala with  Alaska Kids  Count and  is concerned                                                               
about what  is happening at  the high  school.  She  related that                                                               
she  understands  the challenges  that  the  legislators face  in                                                               
terms of  allocating money, and  that the money given  to schools                                                               
is distributed  by other  parties; that she  and her  friends are                                                               
planning  on   meeting  with  the   school  board   and  offering                                                               
suggestions on  where money should  be spent within  the schools;                                                               
that she spoke with Senator Kim  Elton yesterday, while on a tour                                                               
of the  Capital Building; and  that in researching the  NCLB Act,                                                               
she  found  it  difficult  to  extract  information  specific  to                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN congratulated the  students for coming to the                                                               
committee  meeting, and  asked what  is  the best  thing that  is                                                               
happening at Juneau Douglas High School.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:18:17 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. BEAVER  said that  after talking  with all  of the  staff and                                                               
administrators,  she realized  that almost  all of  them want  to                                                               
help students, but  that it is frustrating because  there are few                                                               
teachers and  many students.   She said  she thought it  was nice                                                               
that  the teachers  genuinely  want to  help  students at  Juneau                                                               
Douglas High School.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
12:19:16 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
AUDREY  ACKERMAN, student,  Juneau  Douglas  High School,  opined                                                               
that  the biggest  problem in  the  high school  is the  drop-out                                                               
rate.    She  said  that  a  major  contributing  factor  is  the                                                               
student:teacher ratio; for example, most  of her classes are have                                                               
25-30 students and one teacher.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
12:20:14 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CYNTHIA KATZEEK, student, Juneau-Douglas  High School, stated her                                                               
concerns about  the drop-out rate  and that there are  not enough                                                               
desks in the classrooms.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked about average class size.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  KATZEEK  responded that  there  are  30-35 students  in  her                                                               
classes.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:22:35 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  inquired as to  what could change  at Juneau                                                               
Douglas High School to improve it.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS. BEAVER  stated that she would  like to change the  class size                                                               
so that teachers can help more students.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
12:23:22 PM                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR NEUMAN inquired as to how  many hours per week are allotted                                                               
for physical education and if this amount of time is adequate.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. BEAVER  stated that  physical education  occurs five  times a                                                               
week, and opined that this is adequate.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
[HB 1, HB 18, HB 30, HB 65, HB 73 were held over.]                                                                              
                                                                                                                                

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