Legislature(1995 - 1996)
04/11/1996 08:10 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 546 - G.O. BONDS: SCHOOLS & UNIV. The next order of business to come before the House State Affairs Committee was HB 546. The record reflected the return of Representative Robinson at 10:45 a.m. CHAIR JAMES announced she wanted to form a subcommittee to further address HB 546. CHAIR JAMES called on the first witness via teleconference in Dillingham, Donald Evans. Number 0586 DONALD EVANS, Superintendent, Southwest Region School District, read the following statement into the record. "I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to speak in support of HB 546. "I believe that it is imperative that the Alaska State Legislature, together with the Governor's administration, take responsible, and timely action to address the overwhelming and growing need for school facility maintenance and construction within our state. That need, while it is not limited to, is no more evident nor is the need greater, than in unorganized areas of the state served by REAA school districts. "HB 546, proposes the use of G.O. Bonds to address those needs. HB 546 represents a viable and practical method for the State and the Alaska State Legislature to meet their responsibility. "For several years, the Southwest Region School District has been in need of, and has requested the support of the state in replacement, or remodel of three facilities. The District has annually placed the Togiak School Replacement as its highest capital improvement priority. "The existing Togiak School serves 197 elementary and high school students. The original structure was constructed in 1958 by Bureau of Indian Affairs and later transferred to the State of Alaska. A permanent addition to the structure was added in the 1970's. Since that time, several portable classrooms have been added. In fact more than 60% of the student population of the Togiak School are served in portable classrooms. For years now, the children and parents of Togiak have trusted that this was only temporary, and that the capital improvement process would correct the unhoused student conditions. The Southwest Region School District had applied and continues to apply through the Department of Education's CIP process. "The School District and the Community of Togiak have worked together to prepare for the funding, when it is made available. The Togiak Natives Ltd. corporation along with the city of Togiak has donated 40 acres of land for a new school site. The Southwest Region School District has completed initial site survey and educational specification work. "For the 1995-96 school year, the Togiak School is ranked number 7 on the Department of Education CIP priority list. The Departments recognition of the need in Togiak sprank hope, but only until the Governor's Budget called for funding of the number 1 construction priority. "Also for the 1995-96 school year, the Southwest Region School District initiated a major maintenance request for the Koliganek School. As a result of continuing structural problems the District sought and received engineering reports on the building. Repeated roof & wall separations, building shifts, and ground water flooding experienced annually at the school was found to be from an improper foundation, design and construction. The engineering solution calls for repairs and corrections that will cost approximately $800,000. Just this month, in the Koliganek School snow drifted 15 inches deep in one room, due to a wall separation that has occurred just since summer. I wonder how the State could not find the $800,000 to save a $6,000,000 school before it is not able to be saved. This project is currently ranked number 20 on the major maintenance list and is not scheduled for funding this year. "I am aware that the needs of the Southwest Region School District are not unique throughout the State, but this merely makes the current situation more critical. To suffer under the belief and practice that by taking care of a few needs at the top of an (at best) arbitrary list, and carrying on with business as usual, constitutes burying the State head in the sand. Inadequately addressing the capitol needs of schools in Alaska, is ignoring the real and growing State responsibility to the children. Not acting on HB 546, and continually resting on the rhetoric that there isn't the money, and therefore there are no solutions, is a cop out. "HB 546 offers a solution and I believe that failure to pursue this solution would be irresponsible management of the States existing property, and an extreme injustice to the children of Alaska. "I ask that you support HB 546, and pass it out of committee today. "Thank you for your time and the opportunity to speak." Number 0821 CHAIR JAMES thanked Mr. Evans for his testimony. She announced the bill would pass out of the House State Affairs Committee today. She reiterated a subcommittee had been formed to draft additional language. Number 0837 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN suggested the committee look at the legal opinion of Tamara Cook, Legislative Legal and Research Services. He explained the opinion indicated the bill was possibly unconstitutional. Number 0865 CHAIR JAMES said the opinion suggested contacting the Bond Council to verify the constitutionality. She contacted the council and it indicated it was not a problem. Number 0884 REPRESENTATIVE IVAN asked Chair James what her intention was for HB 546. CHAIR JAMES explained the subcommittee would draft some changes to accept the new division by senate districts. The subcommittee members consisted of Representatives Ivan, Robinson, Green, Ogan and James.