Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/07/2003 01:03 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    SB 121-COMMUNITY SCHOOLS                                                                                
                                                                                                                              
CHAIR DYSON announced SB 121 to be up for consideration.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. EDDY  JEANS, School Finance Manager,  Department of Education                                                               
and Early Development  (DEED) spoke to SB 121  and explained that                                                               
it would repeal  the current statutes dealing  with the community                                                               
schools program.  This program has  been in place since  1975 and                                                               
was adopted  to encourage  and assist  local school  districts in                                                               
the  establishment  of  community  schools.  The  intent  of  the                                                               
Legislature was to  provide a program of  community school grants                                                               
to be established  to provide assistance to  local communities in                                                               
the   initial  development,   implementation  and   operation  of                                                               
community school programs.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
He explained  in the early years  this program was funded  at its                                                               
statutory  authorization. For  the last  couple of  years it  has                                                               
been funded at  about $500,000. The department  still thinks that                                                               
community schools are  a viable activity after the  school day is                                                               
over, but they  believe the programs are  already established and                                                               
self  sufficient without  the  state's support.  He  was able  to                                                               
identify   about  $1.4   million   of   total  community   school                                                               
expenditures  of  which  the  state is  providing  about  a  half                                                               
million (less than 7 percent of  the total funding being spent on                                                               
community schools).                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
The  application  process is  set  out  in statute,  which  still                                                               
refers  to  the  initial  development   of  a  community  schools                                                               
program.  The administration  and  department  believe that  this                                                               
statute has fulfilled its intended purpose.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WILKEN asked him to go over the Fairbanks figures.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS   responded  that   Fairbanks  recorded   $180,000  in                                                               
community  school  expenditures  in  FY02. The  state  grant  was                                                               
$50,000; the state's  support was almost 28 percent  of the total                                                               
expenses. He said the fiscal note  only shows the money that they                                                               
get through the grant program.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Page 2 of the fiscal  note shows the community schools allocation                                                               
based on  FY04 projections. The  statute says that  districts are                                                               
entitled to one  half of one percent of the  foundation aid state                                                               
support that was provided or  $10,000; whichever is less. He said                                                               
the total  entitlement under  this program  would be  almost $3.3                                                               
million. The Legislature had recommended  funding at $.5 million,                                                               
which would represent  about 15 percent of  the total entitlement                                                               
under FY04 projections.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked why the Legislature recommended $500,000.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  replied that he  misspoke and  that was based  on what                                                               
was in the budget last year.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GARY  WILKEN said  if  this  legislation were  to  pass,                                                               
Fairbanks would lose $48,688.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS said that is correct.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. RICK  LANGFITT, Community Schools Coordinator  for the Kodiak                                                               
Island Borough  School District,  said while  the level  of state                                                               
funding may be minimal, that  small amount shows base support for                                                               
the  value  of  community  schools programs.  The  Kodiak  school                                                               
district is  facing a  $2 million budget  shortfall for  the next                                                               
fiscal year and  the community schools program is  one among many                                                               
valuable programs  the district  is considering  for elimination.                                                               
State support for it would  make it harder to justify eliminating                                                               
it  and the  district  would  lose grant  funds  if  it does  not                                                               
provide a program.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked him what if  the state said if the local people                                                               
don't care  enough about it to  fund it, we're getting  the wrong                                                               
signal.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. LANGFITT replied  that the level of funding  Kodiak gets from                                                               
the community schools grant is $10,700  and the rest of the money                                                               
to support  the program, which  totals $70,000, comes  from local                                                               
communities. He maintained:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     While   we're  looking   to  cut   things,  with   that                                                                    
     additional  state  cut,  it just  makes  it  that  much                                                                    
     harder  to  justify  trying to  come  up  with  another                                                                    
     $10,000 to support a program  when we already have a $2                                                                    
     million shortfall for next year.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  JOYCE  KITKA,  volunteer with  the  Alaska  Association  for                                                               
Community Education (AACE), referred  to information she provided                                                               
the  committee  that  shows what  her  organization  helped  make                                                               
happen in communities. Existing buildings  in 53 out of 53 school                                                               
districts are  being used  on nights and  weekends as  opposed to                                                               
being closed  at the end of  the school day or  year. Over 20,000                                                               
programs and  activities were offered  and over  342,000 activity                                                               
hours were logged,  over 464,000 youth were  served, over 390,000                                                               
adults were  served, over 20,000  different volunteers  logged in                                                               
almost 212,000 hours. She continued:                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     ...the National  Association for Partners  in Education                                                                    
     state  that an  average volunteer  is worth  $15.62 per                                                                    
     hour,  if  you  take  that and  multiply  that  by  the                                                                    
     212,000  hours,  we  brought  in  over  $3  million  in                                                                    
     services  from  our  volunteers.  We  think  that's  an                                                                    
     excellent track  record and we  would challenge  you to                                                                    
     find any  other program  in this  state that  serves as                                                                    
     many people on as few state dollars as we get.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. KITKA responded to the question  of why the program should be                                                               
state driven  for local  people by  saying she  thought it  was a                                                               
partnership and a good faith effort on both parts. She noted:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     On Saturday  in House  Finance, it  was referred  to as                                                                    
     being the spark  plug. The $500,000 was  the spark plug                                                                    
     that keeps  these programs going...We do  open gyms. We                                                                    
     will not  deny that. When I  open a gym and  I have 150                                                                    
     kids who are  hanging out there on a  Saturday night, I                                                                    
     know it's meeting a need.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. KITKA concluded by saying:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     The   Department  of   Education's  mission   statement                                                                    
     addresses  life-long  learning  and yet  they  and  the                                                                    
     governor are  wishing to eliminate the  funding for the                                                                    
     one vehicle that helps promote this.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
She said  the Legislature  could choose to  not fund  the program                                                               
right now as it  realizes money is tight, but it  can do that and                                                               
still keep the statute intact.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. LARRY  WIGET, Executive  Director, Public  Affairs, Anchorage                                                               
School District,  said the district does  not support eliminating                                                               
the  community schools  program from  the statute  or eliminating                                                               
the funding. He maintained:                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     According  to  AS  14.36.010(a),  the  purpose  of  the                                                                    
     community schools  is an  expression of  the philosophy                                                                    
     that the  school is a  fine educational  institution of                                                                    
     the  community. It's  most effective  when it  involves                                                                    
     the people of  that community in a  program designed to                                                                    
     fulfill their educational needs.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
He  thought   the  law  should   be  changed,  but   rather  than                                                               
eliminating  community schools  from statute,  the intent  of the                                                               
law should be  changed to include ongoing  operation of community                                                               
school programs.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DEBBIE   BOGART,  Director,  Community   Education  Program,                                                               
Anchorage  School   District,  said  if  passed,   SB  121  would                                                               
devastate  community  education.  This   program  is  a  valuable                                                               
component  that  contributes  to  the  academic  success  of  our                                                               
students.  It  provides  continuing   education  for  adults  and                                                               
preschool  education for  young  learners.  The community  school                                                               
programs keep  the community involved  in our schools.  It brings                                                               
people without children into the  schools so they know more about                                                               
them. Last year  33,000 youth and 28,000 adults  were involved in                                                               
their programs.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON asked why the  department has chosen to eliminate the                                                               
statute as well as the funding.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  replied that basically  DEED was looking  to eliminate                                                               
the funding,  but the intent of  the program was to  provide seed                                                               
money to  get the programs up  and running, "and they  are up and                                                               
running."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  asked why  they couldn't leave  in language  for the                                                               
start up  of new  programs and  eliminate the  continuous funding                                                               
language.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  replied that  all 53  school districts  participate in                                                               
this program  and the start  up has occurred. If  the Legislature                                                               
wants to  provide on-going  operational money,  at a  minimum the                                                               
statute needs to be amended to reflect that.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WILKEN   asked  if  school   districts  track   the  net                                                               
expenditure of community schools in the chart of accounts.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS replied probably not.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR DYSON  called a brief at-ease  and came back on  the record                                                               
to state  the agenda for the  next meeting. He announced  that SB                                                               
145 was being held in committee.                                                                                                

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