Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106


Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved Out of Committee
Moved CSSSHB 20(EDU) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HB  16-SCHOOL FUNDS RELATED TO BOARDING SCHOOLS                                                                               
4:29:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced  that the next order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  16  "An  Act relating  to  funding  for  school                                                               
districts  operating secondary  school boarding  programs and  to                                                               
funding for  school districts from which  boarding students come;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
4:29:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN  COGHILL, Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
explained that  the main  purpose of  HB 16  is to  help boarding                                                               
schools in  Alaska.   House Bill 16  provides that  under certain                                                               
circumstances [the  state] will give  a stipend to  some students                                                               
to  attend  boarding   schools.    He  related  that   he  has  a                                                               
"sensitivity  to  how that  might  affect  other schools  so  ...                                                               
[there  are] some  sideboards ...,"  which are  as follows:   the                                                               
boarding school  has to be  operating on a 180-day  school system                                                               
calendar; if  a student's absence from  his/her [district school]                                                               
places the  school "under  the number  floor," and  ends funding,                                                               
then  that  student  shall  be  held  harmless.    The  five-year                                                               
timeframe  in  the legislation  would  allow  the legislature  to                                                               
evaluate  the impacted  boarding schools  in Galena,  Bethel, and                                                               
Nenana.   He added that  the aforementioned school  districts use                                                               
the  "student dollar  count" towards  schooling,  similar to  the                                                               
state run  boarding school of  Mt. Edgecumbe,  however, different                                                               
cost factors are involved with Mt. Edgecumbe.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL relayed  his personal experience regarding                                                               
the  positive  influence  of  boarding schools  in  Nenana.    He                                                               
related that the  House passed similar legislation  last year, by                                                               
a  vote of  38:0, but  questions in  the Senate  arose about  the                                                               
operations of one of the schools.   Although he said he felt that                                                               
the questions  in the Senate  were addressed, the question  as to                                                               
whether  these  boarding schools  will  take  the "best  and  the                                                               
brightest" from  the smaller  districts remains.   Representative                                                               
Coghill  opined that  would  not  be the  case.    He added  that                                                               
boarding  schools  have saved  the  state  money, although  "it's                                                               
debatable  how much."   For  example, a  smaller district  with a                                                               
lower ratio  of students  means the dollar  per student  is high,                                                               
but  [if a  student] came  to  the larger  district, the  student                                                               
dollar  reimbursement is  lower based  on the  [school district's                                                               
cost  factors].   He opined  that  he is  not "doing  it for  the                                                               
savings" but rather he is  interested in boarding schools because                                                               
they are  "one avenue where  education really does excel"  due to                                                               
the   combined  interests   from  the   parents,  children,   and                                                               
community.   He noted that many  of the students are  coming from                                                               
"tough   circumstances,"  and   they   are   being  offered   the                                                               
opportunity to change their lifestyle and excel.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL reiterated that  the sideboards will allow                                                               
[the legislature]  to evaluate if  this system will work,  and if                                                               
so, why it  works so well.  The earlier  mentioned districts have                                                               
applied  their own  "sweat equity  capital"  into these  schools.                                                               
For example,  Galena has made  creative usage out of  its airbase                                                               
and uses  it for "absolutely fascinating"  vocational technology,                                                               
while Nenana  focuses on a  more college preparatory  approach to                                                               
learning.   He  highlighted that  seven out  of fifteen  students                                                               
from Nenana's 2004 graduating class went to universities.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  said  the Department  of  Education  and                                                               
Early Development (EED) would determine  the monthly stipend plus                                                               
the cost of travel to and  from the boarding school one time, for                                                               
each student.                                                                                                                   
4:40:12 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said  she loves HB 16  because it supports                                                               
school choice and offers rural  children more opportunities.  She                                                               
explained that  the superintendent of Galena,  Jim Smith, pointed                                                               
out that  its vocational technology  program meets a need  in the                                                               
state, which  should be expanded  upon.  Furthermore,  the school                                                               
also  provides a  socially comfortable  environment for  children                                                               
that  come from  less than  ideal  situations.   She related  her                                                               
belief that  perhaps, if not  the "best and the  brightest," [the                                                               
schools retain] the most motivated  children.  However, she asked                                                               
whether  the  [boarding  schools' obtaining]  motivated  children                                                               
could adversely  impact their home  schools.  Even if  that's the                                                               
case,  Representative  Gardner said  that  she  wouldn't want  to                                                               
stand in  the way  of those students  and would  rather encourage                                                               
it, even if there's a certain cost to their home schools.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied yes,  adding that a student should                                                               
be allowed  to excel to  the best  of his/her ability.   However,                                                               
the  home districts  and parents  are also  looking for  the best                                                               
education for  students, and the  purpose of this  legislation is                                                               
not to hurt local home districts.                                                                                               
4:43:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL, in  response  to Representative  Seaton,                                                               
clarified  that the  school district  [within which  the boarding                                                               
school is  located] would  receive a  reimbursement or  a stipend                                                               
for the boarding of a student.                                                                                                  
4:44:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  said she  supports the  concept of  HB 16,                                                               
but  noted  her frustration  that  other  programs in  the  state                                                               
desperately need the state's investment and support.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL highlighted  that the  sideboards on  the                                                               
legislation evaluate how it's working.   He acknowledged that the                                                               
legislation  will  benefit fewer  students  than  he would  like.                                                               
However,   there  is   also  debate   regarding  how   the  rural                                                               
communities    are   going    to   answer    educational   needs.                                                               
Representative Coghill  concluded by noting that  the legislature                                                               
"needs to work on all fronts."                                                                                                  
4:46:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON inquired as to the amount of the stipend.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL replied  that the  attached fiscal  notes                                                               
highlight  an  annual  round-trip  airfare cost  and  the  yearly                                                               
costs, which amounts  to a monthly stipend that  ranges from $472                                                               
to $577.   He  pointed out  that boarding  school costs  are much                                                               
more than $500 a month [per student].                                                                                           
CHAIR  WILSON  related  her  belief  that  the  children  at  Mt.                                                               
Edgecumbe benefit greatly  from the school.   She highlighted the                                                               
preparedness and  knowledge she  encountered when  teaching those                                                               
students a state government class.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE MCGUIRE  moved to  report HB  16 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.  There  being no objection, HB 16 was  reported out of the                                                               
House Health, Education and Social Services Standing Committee.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects