Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205
04/04/2017 03:30 PM EDUCATION
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SB 102-INTERNET FOR SCHOOLS; FUNDING 3:47:54 PM CHAIR HUGHES announced the consideration of SB 102. 3:48:16 PM BRITTANY HUTCHINSON, Staff, Senator Anna MacKinnon, Alaska State Legislature, presented information about SB 102, SB 103, and SB 104 on behalf of the Senate Finance Committee. She related that there are high achieving students, great teachers, and great schools and districts in Alaska. However, there are also many schools that are not achieving and there is a large achievement gap for many Alaskan students. Outcomes are not where they should be for students to be prepared for life after high school. The goals of the three bills are to prioritize K-12 education as the state's constitutional responsibility and to prioritize how the state's limited funds are spent. Other goals are to improve outcomes for Alaska's students and to provide for efficiency and streamlined deliveries of education processes and procedures. Alaska's students deserve a 21st Century education. 3:49:50 PM MS. HUTCHISON provided the sectional analysis of SB 102: Section 1 AS 14.03.127(a) Increases the floor of internet download speed from 10 megabits per second (Mbps) to 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for every school in Alaska. Section 2 AS 37.14.750(a) Puts into statute that the legislature may pay for internet services through the Higher Education Fund. Section 3 AS 37.14.750 Conforming language that allows the legislature to pay for internet services through the Higher Education Fund. CHAIR HUGHES asked if there is any background information to share. 3:50:19 PM MS. HUTCHISON said the reason 25 Mgbs was chosen for the bill was because all schools could increase to that amount without any additional infrastructure. She said that amount is based on the federal E-rate Program, which covers 70 percent to 90 percent of internet services, depending on how many students are on the free or reduced lunch program. For every state dollar, schools receive about $7 federal dollars. All school districts utilize the E-rate Program. Only 29 school districts used the Broadband Assistance Grant. She estimated that the bill will bring 197 schools up to 25 Mgbs. CHAIR HUGHES asked how much funding will be available. MS. HUTCHISON said they don't have a fiscal note yet, but they estimate about $16 million will be needed to bring all schools up to 25 Mgbs, tapering off each year. 3:52:33 PM SENATOR BEGICH asked if they calculated the ability for each school to make use of that 25 Mgbs by various methods. He did not want to see any schools left behind. MS. HUTCHISON said all schools can come up to 25 Mgbs. SENATOR BEGICH pointed out that the download is often absorbed by other users in the community. He suggested making it a dedicated 25 Mgbs for schools. MS. HUTCHISON said it was an excellent idea. 3:54:14 PM SENATOR BEGICH said it should be easy to add language. He suggested an addition of "an applicant's share to a dedicated 25 Mgbs" would ensure that it would not be consumed by the community. CHAIR HUGHES noted a new satellite launch and the potential for expansion of internet in Alaska. She asked how many schools would be upgraded. MS. HUTCHISON said 197 schools, according to 2016 FCC information. 3:56:33 PM SENATOR BEGICH asked if the suggestion of 25 Mgbs came from the FCC. MS. HUTCHISON replied that is was from the Alaska Telephone Association. 3:56:59 PM CHAIR HUGHES held SB 102 in committee.