Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205
04/07/2017 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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SB 103-ED GRANTS/SCHOLARSHIP; INNOVATIVE ED FUND 8:12:16 AM CHAIR HUGHES announced the consideration of SB 103. BRITTANY HUTCHISON, Staff, Senator Anna MacKinnon, reviewed SB 103 on behalf of the sponsor. She addressed comments made by public testimony. According to the Alaska Performance Scholarship (APS) Outcomes Report from 2011-2016, 8,606 students have received $48,840,606 in scholarships. It is time to re- prioritize spending on K-12 education to better prepare 130,000 students for life after high school. The money is best served where it is constitutionally mandated. She said, according to the University of Alaska FY18 budget overview, out of 100 average 9th graders, 29 won't graduate from high school, 40 won't attend college, 16 will attend college out of state, 10 will attend UA but are not graduated within 6 years, and 5 will graduate within 6 years. She opined that these are not positive outcomes. According to the UA information system, since the inception of the APS, remediation rates were at 53 percent, decreased to 48 percent in 2014, and now are at 52 percent. Also, the number of high school seniors entering the university as freshmen has decreased every year. The APS has not increased the number of freshmen attending the university. She pointed out that 25 percent of APS recipients are also UA Scholars. There is some overlap and getting rid of the APS is not as detrimental as has been portrayed. Students have access to other scholarships, loans, and grants. 8:15:26 AM SENATOR STEVENS spoke in support of the bill, but has concerns about doing away with the APS. He said the APS is a good idea and there has not been enough time to see if it works. He wondered if it is possible to leave the program in place but cut the funding to it so that, when possible, it could be reinstated. 8:17:06 AM MS. HUTCHISON said it is possible and it is a policy call. SENATOR STEVENS said he is not suggesting that they change the wording in the bill, but to consider it later in the process. 8:17:54 AM CHAIR HUGHES shared the same concern. 8:18:06 AM SENATOR GIESSEL had concerns that the APS was dipping too low - to C students. She appreciated the data from the university. She thought the University Honors Scholar (UHS) Program for the top 10 percent was a great program. She requested the amount of the scholar program. MS. HUTCHISON offered to provide the amount of tuition paid for by the UHS. SENATOR GIESSEL said she does support the bill, but the state is in financial times. 8:20:07 AM MS. HUTCHISON clarified that the 25 percent overlap of the two scholarships is just for the 2015-2016 school year. 8:20:44 AM SENATOR BEGICH voiced concern about the lack of time to work on the bill. He said they need time to debate whether the APS is working and whether to revisit it if it is not working. He agreed with Senator Steven's idea of leaving the APS in place and not funding it. All the public testimony, except for one letter, opposed eliminating the APS. He opined that the Innovation Grants provide a laudable goal, however, you also must look at them in terms of the fiscal climate. It is a voluntary program, but no district can afford not to do it. Also, the bill directs districts to do specific kinds of programming and it should allow local communities to develop their own programs, not have to accept the four areas as listed on pages 1 and 2 of the bill. He said he may oppose SB 103 because of that, because it will force communities to compete for the grants, and because it is premature. He voiced concerned that SB 103 does not have a fiscal note for DEED to establish innovative programs, nor does it show how much of the $349 million will be spent. SB 102's fiscal note does. He commended the sponsor and the committee for their work on the bill, but suggested they work on it during the interim. 8:25:07 AM MS. HUTCHISON explained that the fiscal note for SB 102 shows a repeating amount of $16 million, an amount that should slowly decrease. The goal is that the fund would grow because it is invested at 7 percent annually. She said SB 103 is a guideline and the legislature will not have a say in what kinds of grants are approved; the commissioner will deem what is necessary and appropriate. The expense will have to come from the commissioner's budget and be approved by the governor and the legislature. 8:26:48 AM HEIDI TESHNER, Director Administrative Service, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), addressed the fiscal note for SB 103. She said there are three fiscal notes for SB 103. The first one is for the student and school achievement allocation and requests two permanent full-time positions, an education specialist and an education associate, for $209,400 in the personal services line. Within the services line, $23,300 is requested for department chargebacks and legal service costs. 8:28:17 AM STEPHANIE BUTLER, Interim Executive Director, Postsecondary Education, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), addressed two fiscal notes related to SB 103. The first note applies to the repeal of the APS and shows a reduction from the original FY18 appropriation. It is an estimate. The second note is relative to the repeal of the Alaska Education Grant. It also shows a reduction from the original FY18 appropriation and is based on a statutory formula. 8:30:29 AM SENATOR COGHILL thanked the sponsor of the bill. He commented that these are tough choices in the time of fiscal shortages. He said the bill has a goal to use the money more broadly to lift more people up. He shared concerns. He would prefer that the top tier of students stay in the APS. He understood that, given the budget situation, every dollar must provide the best benefit to students. He said he will support the bill. 8:32:45 AM CHAIR HUGHES agreed it is a tough decision. She supports scholarships that allow students to go beyond high school, however, state finances are in different times. The constitution says the state must establish and maintain K-12 public schools. When it comes to the university, the constitution establishes it, but has no requirement to maintain it. The state's obligation is to children. She said her goal is to have K-12 students that graduate more ready and eligible for grants and scholarships. The APS has been a great program and has helped a lot of students and families. She said she will support the bill, but she is not opposed to keeping the APS statute on the books. 8:34:46 AM SENATOR COGHILL moved to report SB 103, version O, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. SENATOR BEGICH objected. He agreed that the key is to prepare children for college and with the idea of having more rigor in curriculum. 8:35:54 AM SENATOR STEVENS expressed appreciation for Senator Coghill's comment on lifting people up. He spoke in support of the average student and the fact that they are also valuable. It is often the average student that accomplishes much in life. 8:36:52 AM SENATOR BEGICH agreed. CHAIR HUGHES said she appreciates the comments about rigor. She added that she heard from districts that rigorous courses motivate students. She encouraged districts to continue those offerings. 8:37:36 AM SENATOR GIESSEL pointed out that there is also a remediation issue. She spoke in support of the bill because it takes scant resources and drives them down to the K-12 level. She said her focus is on the K-3 grade level and reading. She agreed the APS is great, but stressed the importance of funding basic skills. A roll call vote was taken. Senators Giessel, Hughes, Coghill, and Stevens voted in favor of moving SB 103 from committee and Senator Begich voted against it. Therefore, SB 103 passed out of the Senate Education Standing Committee by a 4:1 vote.