Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/06/1993 09:00 AM CRA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
The Senate Community & Regional Affairs Committee was called to order by Chairman Randy Phillips at 9:00 a.m. SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS brought CSSB 62(CRA) before the committee, which was adopted as a working document by the committee at its previous meeting. He announced the committee would be taking testimony from teleconference sites around the state and that additional testimony would be taken at a 7:30 p.m. meeting as well. Number 022 DUANE GUILEY, Director, School Finance, Department of Education, in response to a request that the department supply additional information on all revenue sources available to school districts, directed attention to a schedule of the general fund revenue sources. He added that the department is still working on the remaining schedules of federal fund revenue sources that are supplementary programs in nature. Mr. Giley also directed attention to a schedule showing the wealth available per student at the local level. Number 095 SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS opened the meeting to public testimony over the teleconference network. STEVE GIBSON, testifying from Homer, said the change in the Alaska School Price Idex is fair. However, he is concerned with the adjustment for gifted and talented students, saying he is worried that it is the beginning of the phasing out of this funding. He suggested capping the funding level for the program at 4.5 to 5 percent of the enrollment. He noted that in his school district they spend more money on gifted and talented than they are allocated from the state. SENATOR PHILLIPS clarified that the Alaska School Price Index provision and the gifted and talented provision were not included in the committee substitute. Number 162 LARRY WIGET, testifying from Anchorage, said rewriting the school foundation formula is a task that must be undertaken by the legislators if all students in the state, both urban and rural, are to be provided with equal access with the limited financial resources available. He said currently, the foundation formula is not equitable to the students in Anchorage, and the Anchorage School Board adopted as one of its priorities this legislative session the rewriting of the school foundation formula in a way that is equitable for Anchorage. Number 195 DENNIS WETHERELL, President of the Mat-Su Talented and Gifted Association, testifying from Anchorage, thanked the committee for the changes made in the gifted and talented education, saying the original bill would have been a disaster for these programs. He requested that a paragraph (c) be added to AS 14.17.045 which would require that any funds allocated for gifted also be used for gifted education. Number 220 FRANK GARRITY, Coordinator with the North Slope Borough School District, read into the record a letter from Patsy Aamodt, Superintendent of the North Slope Borough School District, to Senator Adams. The letter states that if the committee substitute passes, it would decrease the annual foundation revenue to the North Slope Borough School District by over $2 million. Since the North Slope Borough already provides over 60 percent of the funding for their current budget, and since their recent FY 94 request has been cut by $1.4 million, the committee substitute would cause a substantial reduction in their educational programs and the loss of many educational opportunities for their children. The letter urges that the current 35 percent required local support as specified in the foundation formula be retained rather than allowing it to be increased to 50 percent as proposed in the committee substitute. Number 260 DEBORAH GERMANO, testifying from Homer, said as a parent she is concerned about the cost differential of the Alaska School Price Index. She said they are up against the cap in their district, they continue to add children in their classrooms and their programs continue to deteriorate. Number 275 RICHARD SWARNER, Executive Director of Business Management for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, testifying from Soldotna, said their district spends all of the money that they garner under that portion of the program, as well as subsidizing the gifted and talented program with local money. He also stated their concern with changing the Alaska School Price Index. He noted that their school district has been at the cap under the foundation program for four years, and they are projected to be there again next year. He also pointed out that their teacher salaries are the lowest of any of the large school districts and that their pupil/teacher ratios are extremely high. Number 320 CLAUDIA WALTON, testifying from Anchorage, addressed Section 2, which relates to centralized correspondence study. She said there are nearly 800 students in Alaska who are on the centralized correspondence program in the public school program. She supports the program because it offers the parents and the students an option to the normal school program. Number 375 MARTY LASTER, Assistant Superintendent, Mat-Su School District, testified from Palmer. He said there are elements of the committee substitute that the district likes and they have concerns about other areas. Like the Kenai Peninsula School District, the Mat-Su provides greater funding for gifted and talented than they receive. They are also approaching well over 30 students in their secondary classrooms, as well as high pupil/teacher ratios in their elementary classrooms. The Mat-Su School District is very supportive of Section 3 which would provide some relief for large classrooms. Further, the school district supports the Alaska School Price Index. There being no further witnesses wishing to testify on SB 62, SENATOR RANDY PHILLIPS stated the committee would adjourn until 7:30 p.m. at which time more testimony would be taken over the teleconference network. The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 a.m.