Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/11/1996 08:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 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.                                                                    

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