Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

02/03/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION

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08:01:24 AM Start
08:01:58 AM SB139|| HB278
09:31:16 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Location Change --
Joint w/House Education
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
         SB 139-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
         HB 278-EDUCATION: FUNDING/TAX CREDITS/PROGRAMS                                                                     
8:01:58 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS announced that the  only order of business would be                                                               
SB 139 [and HB  278]. He said it was his intent  to hear the bill                                                               
and hold it in committee.                                                                                                       
Chair Gattis announced the arrival  of Representatives LeDoux and                                                               
8:03:30 AM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  HANLEY, Commissioner  of the  Department  of Education  and                                                               
Early  Development (DEED),  Juneau, Alaska,  provided information                                                               
related to SB  139. He thanked the committee for  holding a joint                                                               
meeting in order  to hear Alaska's Education  Opportunity Act. He                                                               
introduced himself.                                                                                                             
DIANNE  BLUMER, Commissioner,  Department  of  Labor &  Workforce                                                               
Development   (DOTPF),  Juneau,   Alaska,  provided   information                                                               
related to SB 139. She introduced herself.                                                                                      
ANGELA  RODELL,  Commissioner,  Department  of  Revenue,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, provided  information related  to SB 139.  She introduced                                                               
COMMISSIONER   HANLEY   explained   that  the   bill   represents                                                               
collaboration between  the Departments  of Education,  Labor, and                                                               
Administration  with  a  single   goal  in  mind,  to  strengthen                                                               
education  in  Alaska  by   expanding  opportunity  and  removing                                                               
barriers that are keeping schools  and students from achieving at                                                               
the  highest level  possible. The  legislation proposes  specific                                                               
strategies  to improve  education: expand  opportunity by  adding                                                               
options for students  to test out for  credits, allowing students                                                               
to prove mastery in a course,  rather than proving seat time, and                                                               
strengthening residential and charter  school program models. The                                                               
legislation will  remove barriers  by eliminating  obsolete tests                                                               
and costs  for assessments that  a student needs for  college and                                                               
the  workforce  and for  qualifying  for  the Alaska  Performance                                                               
Scholarship. It  will incentivize  partnerships beyond  the walls                                                               
of the classroom. The legislation  will provide greater access to                                                               
opportunities  in  public   schools,  neighborhood  schools,  and                                                               
alternative schools.                                                                                                            
He  said  the  benefit  of partnerships  includes  those  between                                                               
departments; three commissioners will testify today.                                                                            
COMMISSIONER BLUMER  related that DOTPF has  long recognized that                                                               
college is  not the only  path to success, especially  in Alaska.                                                               
Of more  than 350,000 workers  in Alaska's labor force,  only one                                                               
in five holds  a job that requires a four-year  degree or higher.                                                               
Most   of  those   jobs   require   post-secondary  training,   a                                                               
requirement that  will increase along  with increases in  oil and                                                               
gas  projects.  Alaska's  commitment   to  career  and  technical                                                               
education is  critical to  the state's ability  to build  a local                                                               
workforce. Alaska is unique in  that the legislature authorizes a                                                               
dependable source of funding for career and technical education.                                                                
COMMISSIONER  BLUMER  said  in  2000  the  department  created  a                                                               
Technical  Educational  Vocational   Program  (TVEP)  to  provide                                                               
grants to  statewide job training  institutions. In SB  139 there                                                               
is a focus  on more education opportunities in order  to meet the                                                               
needs  of all  Alaskans. It  reauthorizes TVEP  through 2024  and                                                               
expands  dual  credit  options for  high  school  graduation  and                                                               
8:06:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  STEVENS  inquired  if Commissioner  Blumer  anticipates  a                                                               
change in the statistic that only  one in five workers requires a                                                               
college degree.                                                                                                                 
COMISSIONER BLUMER opined that the  number will change due to the                                                               
number of oil and gas projects on the horizon.                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER  RODELL  stressed  the  importance  of  an  educated                                                               
workforce  in Alaska.  She  explained  that SB  139  has two  tax                                                               
credits  that  expand  existing  tax  credits.  She  said  it  is                                                               
important to engage business partners in this education effort.                                                                 
8:08:29 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY referred  to a briefing paper  on sections of                                                               
SB 139 in members' packets. He  began with the subject of testing                                                               
out for  credit in Section 1.  He said the bill  provides options                                                               
to  traditional methods  of teaching  when students  have already                                                               
met the  outcomes of a  subject. It requires school  districts to                                                               
offer  high school  students the  opportunity  to test  out of  a                                                               
class  by  proving  mastery  of  the  subject.  Current  language                                                               
already provides  for this. It  states that a student  is awarded                                                               
credit for achieving  a passing grade by  meeting the performance                                                               
standards  for a  course  of  study as  proscribed  by the  local                                                               
school board. SB  139 recognizes that this  opportunity should be                                                               
provided to students.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  continued  to  explain  that  SB  139  also                                                               
recognizes the  challenges for  districts to  provide assessments                                                               
for  subjects such  as  debate or  drama. That  is  why the  bill                                                               
identifies  only  core areas  of  math,  language arts,  science,                                                               
social studies,  and world languages  for which  assessments must                                                               
be developed. Options for testing out  of other areas are left up                                                               
individual  districts. He  noted  that  world languages  includes                                                               
Alaska Native languages.                                                                                                        
8:11:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if a  student could test out  of all                                                               
high school courses and graduate early.                                                                                         
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said that was theoretically possible.                                                                       
He continued that Section 1 of  the bill has an effective date of                                                               
July 1, 2015, which allows  time to develop regulations regarding                                                               
assessments and allow districts to put the assessments in place.                                                                
8:12:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GATTIS summarized  the  intent  of the  bill  is to  allow                                                               
school  districts to  provide assessments  for core  subjects and                                                               
for any other subject they choose to allow.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said that was correct.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  noted that  current regulations  require a                                                               
passing grade.  He wondered  if SB 139  requires the  district to                                                               
assign a grade.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  clarified  that   current  law  allows  the                                                               
district to determine a passing grade  and SB 139 does not change                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  if  a grade  must  be assigned.  He                                                               
pointed out that the student's GPA would be affected.                                                                           
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said that is not  the intent of the bill that                                                               
the district  be required  to issue  a grade;  the intent  of the                                                               
bill is  to prove  mastery. It  is permissible  for a  student to                                                               
test  out and  not  be graded,  or the  district  could assign  a                                                               
8:15:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked if  last  year's  final test  in  a                                                               
subject could be used.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said yes. It is  up to the district to choose                                                               
the exam to be used. He gave math as an example.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  confirmed that  it  is  up to  the  local                                                               
school district to decide how to reflect mastery.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  voiced a  concern about a  school district                                                               
that would  give a  partial grade  for class  participation which                                                               
the student would not be able to achieve.                                                                                       
8:18:29 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the  bill addresses  that issue.  It is                                                               
designed to give  credit for mastery, not penalize  a student for                                                               
no class participation.                                                                                                         
He  discussed the  repeal of  the high  school exit  exam, HSGQE,                                                               
maintaining  that  it  is  unnecessary  now  that  more  rigorous                                                               
standards  and assessments  are in  place. The  bill provides  an                                                               
assessment  choice that  is most  relevant for  a student's  next                                                               
step beyond high school. Currently,  juniors are required to take                                                               
WorkKeys, a career  aptitude test. The bill  would allow students                                                               
to choose  between WorkKeys or  the SAT  or ACT. All  three tests                                                               
are qualifiers for the Alaska  Performance Scholarship (APS). The                                                               
state  will pick  up  the  cost of  one  administration of  these                                                               
assessments, eliminating the barrier of cost for the APS.                                                                       
8:20:52 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  asked if  only  one  in five  graduates                                                               
holds a job that require a  college degree, the SAT and ACT would                                                               
not be  taken by  most students. She  inquired if  the department                                                               
has plans to identify or develop other tests.                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY opined  that WorkKeys  provides testing  for                                                               
career training and SAT and  ACT are the recognized college-bound                                                               
assessments.  At this  time there  is no  plan to  add more  test                                                               
8:22:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER clarified  that the HSGQE was  a test that                                                               
a student  had to pass to  receive a diploma, while  the tests in                                                               
SB 139 are not.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said that was  correct. The bill  moves from                                                               
having to pass  a high stakes exam to an  informational tool that                                                               
gives positive information.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  what  value HSGQE  provided as  an                                                               
accountability tool.                                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY   explained  that  it  was   designed  as  a                                                               
gatekeeper  to ensure  that students  had  minimal skills.  Since                                                               
then, the  department has raised  the bar with new  standards and                                                               
other assessments in place.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   SADDLER   asked   since   new   standards   were                                                               
implemented under HSGQE, whether the scores have improved.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  remarked that  new  standards  were put  in                                                               
place in  June 2012 and students  have not been assessed  yet, so                                                               
the full impact of that shift has not been seen.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER pointed  out  that the  exit  exam is  no                                                               
longer necessary.                                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  agreed. He  said students  with disabilities                                                               
were not passing the test and it does not provide relevant data.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER requested  seeing the  numbers on  actual                                                               
success rates under HSGQE.                                                                                                      
8:25:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  commented that  when  the  exit exam  was                                                               
first  mandated,   not  enough  students  were   passing  so  the                                                               
standards were made easier.                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  SADDLER  corrected  that   the  standards  did  not                                                               
change;  the  assessment  changed.  He  shared  the  process  for                                                               
adjusting the  test. The deficiency  of the test  became apparent                                                               
so it was redesigned.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked for  clarification regarding that the                                                               
standards did not change.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER HANLEY reiterated his explanation.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX concluded  that  the problem  was not  the                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY agreed that it was the assessment.                                                                          
8:29:54 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY added it was a challenge at the time.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  said that WorkKeys was  instituted at 11th                                                               
grade and  the state pays for  it. The level of  qualification in                                                               
WorkKeys goes  on the  student's transcript.  He noted  a student                                                               
can retake  the test  their senior year  to improve  their skills                                                               
and  score.  He  said  he  did not  agree  with  eliminating  the                                                               
WorkKeys  test requirement  by allowing  students to  select only                                                               
one test.  He maintained  it would take  away an  assessment tool                                                               
employers can use.                                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  looked at it  in another way.  Some students                                                               
don't take  WorkKeys seriously because  they know they  are going                                                               
to  college and  they  don't  need that  test.  This bill  allows                                                               
students to choose the most relevant test.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON maintained  it was  removing an  important                                                               
tool. Most  kids do  not go to  college. High  school transcripts                                                               
will only have one test score.  It eliminates the one tool needed                                                               
for employees to assess job skills.                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY anticipated  that  a student  moving into  a                                                               
career  would  take  WorkKeys,  whereas,  college-bound  students                                                               
would not.                                                                                                                      
8:35:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  commented that she is  pleased with the                                                               
test  choices  in the  bill,  especially  for students  who  have                                                               
trouble  taking tests.  She testified  in support  of eliminating                                                               
the  exit exam,  which she  opined was  not a  true measure  of a                                                               
student's ability.  She said she  sees WorkKeys as  an assessment                                                               
tool for  success. She  suggested that  students will  choose the                                                               
most appropriate test.                                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER HANLEY agreed.                                                                                                     
CHAIR STEVENS asked when the exit exam became law.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said around 2002.                                                                                           
CHAIR STEVENS asked  how home school students would  take the ACT                                                               
and SAT.                                                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said the department is  working with testing                                                               
companies to allow home-schooled students  to take those tests at                                                               
testing centers.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  commented that she was  on the Anchorage                                                               
School Board  when the HSGQE was  put into place and  there was a                                                               
lot of resistance  from school districts. She  requested a review                                                               
of the costs for the three  tests. She inquired who is paying for                                                               
WorkKeys  currently.  She  suggested   if  all  kids  are  taking                                                               
WorkKeys   now,   that   should   continue.   She   agreed   with                                                               
Representative Seaton's  comments about continuing  with WorkKeys                                                               
for  all students  for career  readiness  purposes. She  wondered                                                               
about other suitable exams.                                                                                                     
CHAIR STEVENS suggested proceeding with the presentation.                                                                       
8:41:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX questioned the waiver.                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  explained that  currently  a  waiver is  in                                                               
place  to  accommodate  students  with  disabilities.  A  similar                                                               
waiver is under consideration for SB 139.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  questioned  why  students  would  need  a                                                               
waiver now if they do not have to pass the test.                                                                                
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said students with severe  disabilities need                                                               
a waiver.  In order to  protect their integrity, they  should not                                                               
have to sit through such assessments.                                                                                           
8:43:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if  the exit  exam will  be required                                                               
through 2017.                                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  explained that students who  cannot pass the                                                               
exit exam earn  a Certificate of Achievement. They  can return to                                                               
take the test within the next three years.                                                                                      
CHAIR STEVENS  asked if  students would take  the exit  exam this                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said yes.                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  explained how  SB  139  relates to  charter                                                               
schools. There  are 27 charter  school laws, and  charter schools                                                               
in 8 districts  and in 13 different  communities. Charter schools                                                               
are  public  schools  within school  districts,  with  additional                                                               
autonomy  and  alternative   strategies  for  teaching  students.                                                               
Currently,  an   organized  parent   group  or   academic  policy                                                               
committee  proposes to  a local  school board  to open  a charter                                                               
school. There is a clear guide  as to what that process requires,                                                               
however, if  an application is  denied at the local  level, there                                                               
is  no   recourse  for  reconsideration   of  a   charter  school                                                               
He explained that SB 139 provides  that the first response at the                                                               
local level,  whether approved  or denied, be  in writing  and be                                                               
based   on   fact  and   law.   That   brings  transparency   and                                                               
accountability to the local process.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if,  under current  law, there  is a                                                               
timeframe whereby  the school  district has to  accept or  deny a                                                               
charter school  application. She maintained that  the bill leaves                                                               
it open indefinitely.                                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY said  theoretically  that  could happen.  He                                                               
said he would look into it.                                                                                                     
8:47:34 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  continued to discuss integrity  in the local                                                               
process. The  bill allows  for an appeal  to the  commissioner of                                                               
education  if  the  charter school  application  is  denied.  The                                                               
commissioner  can  remand  the application  back  to  the  school                                                               
district  for reconsideration,  confirm  the  denial, or  suggest                                                               
approval.  The final  approval remains  with the  State Board  of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  which  law  a  charter  school  is                                                               
required to adhere to during the application process.                                                                           
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  clarified that  current law  requires school                                                               
districts  to have  an open  enrollment policy  and to  treat all                                                               
students  equally. For  example, a  charter school  cannot refuse                                                               
students with special needs. Multitudes  of laws protect children                                                               
and their education.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  if   a  charter  school  has  exam                                                               
requirements for enrollment.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  replied that charter schools  have a variety                                                               
of enrollment methods: exam requirements  or open enrollment or a                                                               
lottery process.                                                                                                                
8:50:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER  inquired  whether, under  current  practice,  a                                                               
charter school can  decline to accept a student  when they cannot                                                               
meet the student's needs.                                                                                                       
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  said no;  as  a  public school,  a  charter                                                               
school is  required to meet  the needs of students.  That example                                                               
would be a form of discrimination.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  noted that  the  Bronx  High School  of                                                               
Science requires  the passing of a  test to be enrolled.  It is a                                                               
part of New York City's public school system.                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS  pointed out the  strong value of local  control in                                                               
Alaska. He questioned  how the department could  force a district                                                               
to  have a  charter  school  if they  decided  not  to accept  an                                                               
application for one.                                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER HANLEY agreed that  the commissioner did not usually                                                               
interfere in such  matters. He said if a local  school board made                                                               
a  fair  decision  based  on  fact  and  substance  of  law,  the                                                               
commissioner would  uphold the  decision. The  bill is  trying to                                                               
avoid a situation where a  charter school has been counseled away                                                               
from applying.  A commissioner would  have to be  very thoughtful                                                               
and  work  directly with  the  district  to  make a  decision  of                                                               
approval if an application had been denied.                                                                                     
8:53:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  asked if the local  elected school board                                                               
denies a charter application, and  the appeal to the commissioner                                                               
results in  approval, whether the  school board,  the department,                                                               
or  the state  board  must provide  the  charter school's  annual                                                               
program  budget. She  referred to  page 6,  line 6,  in the  bill                                                               
where it gives the commissioner  power to approve an application;                                                               
"if a commissioner approves a charter school application."                                                                      
COMMISSIONER HANLEY stated that the  final approval lies with the                                                               
State Board of Education.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  requested  clarification. She  gave  an                                                               
example of  the Anchorage School  Board denying a  charter school                                                               
application  and the  department then  approving the  application                                                               
and  asked where  the governing  and financial  responsibility of                                                               
the charter school  would fall - on the local  school district or                                                               
on  the state.  She pointed  out that  the school  district could                                                               
have denied the  application due to lack of faith  in the charter                                                               
school's fiscal  plan. She  questioned why  the state  would make                                                               
the school district supervise and  provide a budget for a charter                                                               
school under those circumstances.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY,  speaking for  himself,  said  if a  school                                                               
district stated that they could  not afford a new charter school,                                                               
it would  be hard to  approve the  application and for  the state                                                               
board to agree to it. If it  was approved by the state board, the                                                               
local school district would have to fund the charter school.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND opined  that it did not  have anything to                                                               
do with  affordability because  every student  comes with  a BSA;                                                               
every  charter school  student is  a public  school student.  She                                                               
pointed out that  the state supervises Mt.  Edgecombe High School                                                               
and suggested the  state could continue to do  so. She emphasized                                                               
that she would  be very reluctant, as a member  of a school board                                                               
that  denied  a  charter  school application,  to  be  forced  to                                                               
supervise and  take responsibility  for that charter  school. She                                                               
suggested  that   the  conversation   continue  because   of  the                                                               
unfairness to school boards.                                                                                                    
8:58:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON wondered how  often this situation might be                                                               
a problem.  He asked  how many  charter school  applications have                                                               
been denied.                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   HANLEY   said   currently   all   charter   school                                                               
application denials and approvals must  be submitted to the state                                                               
board. He said he is not aware of any denials.                                                                                  
SENATOR  HUGGINS noted  that many  of the  committee members  are                                                               
former school board members. He  pointed out that currently there                                                               
are  artificial caps  on charter  schools in  some locations.  He                                                               
gave an example of how  teachers are assigned to charter schools.                                                               
He suggested updating charter school laws.                                                                                      
9:01:25 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER  requested  clarification  that  a  local                                                               
school  district  has  never  had  to  accept  a  charter  school                                                               
application over their objection.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY said  that is  correct; there  have been  no                                                               
denials of charter schools at the local level.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  asked if charter schools  require parental                                                               
COMMISSIONER HANLEY said yes. Charter  schools have some autonomy                                                               
and can choose their own principals and curriculum.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX asked  what happens  with students  who do                                                               
not have  parents that  can participate.  She suggested  that was                                                               
also discrimination.                                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  said   to  this  point  it   has  not  been                                                               
interpreted that way. He suggested  looking at that issue outside                                                               
of the bill.                                                                                                                    
9:03:32 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY provided  information about  the funding  of                                                               
charter schools.  He remarked that SB  139 is not a  proposal for                                                               
additional funding; it  is clarity in the funding  that should be                                                               
provided from a district. Charter  school students generate funds                                                               
in the same  manner as students in  neighborhood schools. Current                                                               
language  for funding  found on  page 7,  line 3  says: "A  local                                                               
school board  shall provide  an approved  charter school  with an                                                               
annual  program budget.  The budget  shall be  not less  than the                                                               
amount generated by  the students enrolled in  the charter school                                                               
less administrative costs retained  by the local school district,                                                               
determined by  applying the  indirect cost  rate approved  by the                                                               
Department of Education and Early  Development." He remarked that                                                               
"the   amount   generated  by   students"   has   been  open   to                                                               
interpretation. Some  school districts say  it is simply  the BSA                                                               
and local  contribution; some say  there are other  components to                                                               
the  funding formula.  SB 139  states that  the other  components                                                               
need  to  be  considered,  such   as  special  needs,  vocational                                                               
technical,  and  pupil transportation,  as  well  as funding  for                                                               
capital improvements or facilities.  The bill provides clarity of                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND referred  to lines 10 to 16 on  page 7 of                                                               
the bill.  She said she did  not understand how a  charter school                                                               
generates funding for construction of a  school if it is not done                                                               
through the  local bonding process. She  opined that construction                                                               
or maintenance of a charter  school is a great addition; however,                                                               
she questioned where  the funding comes from if  a charter school                                                               
rents  or leases  a  facility.  She pointed  out  that there  are                                                               
several charter  schools in Anchorage that  use existing district                                                               
facilities and  pay rent to  the district  for a school  that has                                                               
already been  paid for  through the  public funding  process. She                                                               
noted she  was the  lone no  vote on  the Anchorage  School Board                                                               
against doing  it that  way because kids  at Romig  Middle School                                                               
don't pay  rent from their BSA  for the building that  the public                                                               
is paying  for. She suggested  that the bill should  consider all                                                               
the different  ways students are  housed. Charter  schools should                                                               
not spend BSA on the facility,  which no other school is required                                                               
to do.                                                                                                                          
9:06:40 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GARDNER asked  if charter schools receive  the entire BSA                                                               
per student.                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said charter school students  generate funds                                                               
in the  same manner as students  in other public schools,  so the                                                               
charter school  should receive  the entire  BSA per  student. The                                                               
language in  SB 139 provides  equity between charter  schools and                                                               
other  schools  beyond  the  BSA   to  other  components  of  the                                                               
foundation funding formula.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  asked if language in the  bill allows a                                                               
charter  school  to  receive  more   funding  than  it  currently                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY replied  that  if the  funding is  equitably                                                               
now, there would be no difference.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON pointed  out that some  charter schools                                                               
pay a  lease fee or  rent, so if  the bill passes,  those charter                                                               
schools will get more money from the districts.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said theoretically. Once all  the components                                                               
have been  figured into the  funding, if any have  been withheld,                                                               
the schools will now receive them.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON concluded  that there  would not  be as                                                               
much money for  students in the regular schools.  She requested a                                                               
"yes or no" answer.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said it  depends. If  a district  is already                                                               
providing  the  funds  to  charter  schools  there  would  be  no                                                               
difference;  if the  district is  not fully  funding the  charter                                                               
schools,  they  will  be  receiving  additional  funds  from  the                                                               
district.  He  said  the  idea  behind the  bill  is  equity  and                                                               
stabilization of funding  for the charter schools.  He said there                                                               
is no language that would  make charter schools super schools. He                                                               
stressed that  the key language  is that funds will  be generated                                                               
"in the same manner" as for students in traditional schools.                                                                    
9:10:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  said  she  understood;  some  of  the                                                               
charter schools now  have to fund some things  regular schools do                                                               
not  have to  fund. She  said  she did  not have  a problem  with                                                               
charter schools  receiving more money  as a measure  of fairness.                                                               
However,  the consequence  is that  students  in regular  schools                                                               
will receive  less money for  instruction. She inquired  how many                                                               
charter schools are  being unfairly funded now and  how much that                                                               
will cost the regular schools.                                                                                                  
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  offered to  look into  that. He  agreed that                                                               
money  may  move from  the  traditional  schools to  the  charter                                                               
schools,  but  that means  that  the  charter schools  have  been                                                               
treated unequally.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON  reiterated her question as  to how many                                                               
regular schools will  be affected. She thought  an analysis could                                                               
be done.                                                                                                                        
SENATOR HUGGINS pointed out that  facilities are the biggest cost                                                               
for charter schools. He highlighted  the inequity between schools                                                               
in  the  form  of  charge-backs for  services.  He  stressed  the                                                               
importance  of  looking  for   techniques  to  modernize  charter                                                               
schools. He  added that testing  to get into schools  also exists                                                               
in Alaska.                                                                                                                      
9:15:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   SEATON  asked   for   an   explanation  of   the                                                               
transportation component, which is  a district responsibility. He                                                               
asked  if  the transportation  budget  would  be divided  by  the                                                               
number  of students  and a  percentage  would go  to the  charter                                                               
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY  agreed  that pupil  transportation  is  not                                                               
required,  but  is a  funding  formula  component and  varies  by                                                               
district. A local district could  provide funding in exchange for                                                               
that component as  part of a contract between  the charter school                                                               
and the district.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  questioned  the   idea  of  splitting  up                                                               
transportation funding  for charter schools  when it is  not done                                                               
for regular schools.                                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  said transportation  funding is  currently a                                                               
disparity because  charter students generate funds,  but a school                                                               
district  may  not  be  providing  transportation  to  a  charter                                                               
9:18:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GARDNER  questioned  giving  transportation  funding  to                                                               
charter schools where students walk and there is no bussing.                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY discussed residential  schools. He said there                                                               
are currently  seven approved residential  schools in  the state.                                                               
He explained that  currently, districts can only apply  to open a                                                               
new residential  school during open application  periods. He said                                                               
he had  an open application  period last year based  on perceived                                                               
needs and  due to  conversations with  the legislature  last year                                                               
regarding SB  47. None of  the previous commissioners  had opened                                                               
up an application period and there is no requirement to do so.                                                                  
He  explained that  the  bill  would require  that  DEED open  an                                                               
annual  application period.  It would  also require  the boarding                                                               
stipend to reflect  basic understanding of actual  costs to house                                                               
and care for a student 24/7.                                                                                                    
9:21:08 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  addressed the base student  allocation (BSA)                                                               
increase. The proposal  in the bill is for an  FY 15 BSA increase                                                               
of $85  per student which  translates to about $21  million. This                                                               
allocation is  in addition  to the  $25 million  one-time funding                                                               
included in the budget this year  for energy and fixed costs. The                                                               
$58 BSA  increase per student  in FY 16  and FY 17  translates to                                                               
about $15.4 million each year.                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND referred to  the increase in the boarding                                                               
stipend to  reflect true costs.  She suggested that the  BSA also                                                               
reflect the true cost to educate students.                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  HANLEY commented  that is  a good  conversation for                                                               
the legislature to have.                                                                                                        
9:22:56 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER   BLUMER  related   that   the  nationwide   average                                                               
graduation rate  for high school  students who are enrolled  in a                                                               
Technical  Vocational Education  Program (TVEP)  is more  than 90                                                               
percent,  compared   to  75  percent   for  students   who  don't                                                               
participate in  that program. In  addition to  reauthorizing TVEP                                                               
through 2024, which sunsets in  June 2014, the bill would require                                                               
institutions  receiving TVEP  funding  to  establish or  maintain                                                               
partnerships or  articulation agreements  with Alaska  schools to                                                               
provide the  opportunity for Alaskan  youth to earn  dual credits                                                               
at secondary and post-secondary levels.                                                                                         
SENATOR  GARDNER   asked  what  percentage  of   Alaska  students                                                               
enrolled in TVEP graduate.                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER BLUMER offered to provide that number.                                                                             
COMMISSIONER HANLEY  presented information about the  tax credits                                                               
in  the bill.  There are  two opportunities  for tax  credits for                                                               
Alaska businesses; it  allows the private sector  to partner with                                                               
local  school  districts  by  funding  scholarships  to  students                                                               
earning  dual credit  to defray  costs of  tuition, registration,                                                               
course and  textbook fees, and  for construction,  maintenance or                                                               
operation of residential housing facilities.                                                                                    
9:26:18 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  RODELL  explained  how  the  tax  credits  work.  A                                                               
business  taxpayer currently  can  take an  education tax  credit                                                               
against their  tax liability. In  2013 universities  and colleges                                                               
benefitted by  $3.8 million and vocational  schools benefitted by                                                               
over  $3.3  million  in  tax   credits  for  donations  made  for                                                               
research,  education   support  services,   vocational  technical                                                               
education and  training schools, education courses,  programs and                                                               
facilities.  This bill  continues the  cap of  $5 million  in tax                                                               
credits,   but  expands   the   qualifying   donations  to   fund                                                               
scholarships  for  dual  credit   students  and  for  residential                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS gave Commissioner  Hanley an opportunity to provide                                                               
concluding remarks.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER   HANLEY   summarized    that   Alaska's   Education                                                               
Opportunity Act  addresses specific  targets in order  to provide                                                               
greater  opportunity,  remove   barriers,  and  thereby  allowing                                                               
students to access greater opportunity in public schools.                                                                       
9:28:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  requested information  about potential                                                               
funding  changes  to  regular  schools,  such  as  transportation                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS  thanked the commissioner for  the initiative for                                                               
residential  schools. He  credited  the  Native Corporations  for                                                               
bringing the idea of the tax credits for education.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked why there  are so many components in                                                               
one bill, and not separate bills for each component.                                                                            
9:30:03 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER HANLEY stated that the  linkage of the components is                                                               
"improving  education across  the  state." He  opined that  there                                                               
needs to be a broad conversation.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   questioned  whether   the  conversation                                                               
requires one bill and would not be possible with separate bills.                                                                
COMMISSIONER   HANLEY  said   no;  it's   a  more   comprehensive                                                               
conversation when the components are combined.                                                                                  
[SB 139 and HB 278 were held for further consideration.]                                                                        

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_SB139_BillText_VersionA_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
02_SB139_SponsorStatement_VersionA_01232014.pdf SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
03 SB139_Sectional_VersionA_01242014.pdf SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
04_SB139_FiscalNote1_DEED_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
05_SB139_FiscalNote2_DEED_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
06_SB139_FiscalNote3_DEED_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
07_SB139_FiscalNote4_DEED_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
08_SB139_FiscalNote5_DOL_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
09_SB139_FiscalNote6_UnivAK_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
10_SB139_FiscalNote7_DOR_01242014.PDF SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
11a_SB139_Powerpoint_JointEdCmte_02032014.pdf SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
12_SB139_Hanley_TalkingPoints.pdf SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139
13_SB139_RepealExitExam_SBEED_01272014.pdf SEDC 2/3/2014 8:00:00 AM
SB 139