Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time Change from 1:30 to 2:00 pm --
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 156(RLS) am Out of Committee
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
     CSHB 16(RLS)-SCHOOL FUNDS RELATED TO BOARDING SCHOOLS                                                                  
CHAIR  FRED   DYSON  announced   CSHB  16(RLS)   to  be   up  for                                                               
RYNNIEVA MOSS,  legislative aide to Representative  John Coghill,                                                               
sponsor,  explained that  HB  16 puts  into  statute the  current                                                               
practice that  is used by  the Department of Education  and Early                                                               
Development  (DEED),  but  existing  statute  has  a  stipulation                                                               
saying in order for the state to  pay a stipend for a grades 9-12                                                               
student in a  boarding school environment, that  student must not                                                               
have  a school  available to  attend  in his  area. CSHB  16(RLS)                                                               
would offer students more choice  in their education by providing                                                               
a  per-student stipend  that would  help pay  for room  and board                                                               
costs and one  round trip ticket between  the student's community                                                               
and the  boarding school  through the year.  It wouldn't  pay 100                                                               
percent of the boarding costs, but about a third to 50 percent.                                                                 
Nenana parents  are required  to pay $1,000  each year  for their                                                               
child's schooling, but  that fee could be waived if  it proved to                                                               
be onerous. A  hold-harmless provision also says if  a student in                                                               
a school  with an attendance  of 10 decides  to go to  a boarding                                                               
school, that school would not  lose its funding at the 10-student                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN  COGHILL, sponsor of  HB 16, added  that with                                                               
the stipend,  there would  still be  district and  parental input                                                               
depending  on the  district's policy  and boarding  schools allow                                                               
students to  excel in  academics and  vocational tech  areas. The                                                               
larger  policy question  is  if the  state  should continue  with                                                               
boarding schools  and the  House decided to  address that  with a                                                               
five-year report.                                                                                                               
He  didn't want  to create  a stipend  that created  a whole  new                                                               
market. He  supported educational alternatives in  the state such                                                               
as schools within schools and  charter schools. He explained that                                                               
most students in boarding schools  are from rural areas and while                                                               
he is not  interested in free rides, he  wanted opportunities for                                                               
them to excel and they have proven that they are doing that.                                                                    
2:11:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked if the  state is currently paying stipends that                                                               
are comparable to the ones provided in this bill.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied yes.                                                                                             
CHAIR DYSON said that as he  reads the bill, students from Galena                                                               
are currently receiving about $500 per month.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied that is correct.                                                                                 
CHAIR DYSON  asked if the state  has any limits on  the number of                                                               
students for which it provides stipends.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  replied that  there are no  limits except                                                               
that the  students must  come from  areas without  their required                                                               
daily attendance and HB 16 is knocking that barrier down some.                                                                  
2:15:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON  asked how much  more the  state would spend  on this                                                               
bill  beyond what  it currently  spends on  stipends and  does it                                                               
have a different funding source.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL answered  that  the fiscal  note shows  a                                                               
cost of about $1.2 million dollars.                                                                                             
SENATOR ELTON  asked if the  selection process for  the dormitory                                                               
program in Nenana is different from the one in Galena.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied that  students have an application                                                               
process and  agree to a  certain level  of study and  conduct and                                                               
both Galena and Nenana have a waiting list.                                                                                     
2:17:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON  asked  if  this bill  has  a  work-study  program                                                               
related  to this  so that  students  could defray  some of  their                                                               
education costs.                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  replied  that the  Rasmussen  Foundation                                                               
contributes some funds  to the program and suggested  to him that                                                               
the  school in  Nenana  develop a  business  plan for  additional                                                               
funding,  which  they  have  been  working  on.  He  thought  the                                                               
developing a business plan would benefit all boarding schools.                                                                  
2:19:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILKEN said  he is  concerned that  while the  sponsor's                                                               
intentions  are good,  the state  would  be cart-blanche  funding                                                               
three schools without a statewide policy. He warned:                                                                            
     If  we don't  keep pressure  on the  administration and                                                                    
     the state  school board  to develop  a plan,  develop a                                                                    
     system  of  boarding  schools, then  we're  doomed  for                                                                    
     failure. I personally think, Mr.  Chairman, that we are                                                                    
     going to  be driven to  boarding schools and  the first                                                                    
     things we  ought to  do is  quit calling  them boarding                                                                    
     schools, because  it conjures up the  old Chemawa model                                                                    
     and  the thought  that kids  leave home  and go  off to                                                                    
     some place  and never come  back - at least  don't come                                                                    
     back until  springtime -  and that's  not the  case. We                                                                    
     have  the opportunity  with existing  facilities around                                                                    
     the  state  -  Kotzebue,   Fairbanks,  King  Center  in                                                                    
     Anchorage, Av Tech,  King Salmon, Galena -  we have the                                                                    
     opportunity with existing facilities  - Nenana - to put                                                                    
     in something that may be best called a prep school.                                                                        
2:23:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILKEN asked  what  it  means that  the  67 students  at                                                               
Nenana don't have  access to grades 9-12 in  their local schools.                                                               
It  seems that  only six  of them  don't have  access to  a local                                                               
school. He asked how this list  was compiled and why the students                                                               
on the list are said to not have had such an opportunity.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  explained that  the confusion  is perhaps                                                               
due  to a  poorly  drafted sponsor  statement.  Many students  in                                                               
Nenana do  have access  to a  local education,  but many  of them                                                               
want  to  attend boarding  schools  out  of social  and  academic                                                               
concerns. It  has a very  positive impact  on their lives  and he                                                               
would like  the state  to assist  those students.   He  said this                                                               
bill would help the state establish a boarding school policy.                                                                   
2:29:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILKEN commented  that the  fiscal  note is  based on  a                                                               
capacity of  100 students in  Galena and  96 in Nenana,  but they                                                               
are not at  that capacity today.  He asked  what the current head                                                               
counts are  and if  it's possible  that they  will expand  in the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL answered  that  there  really isn't  much                                                               
room for expansion for the Nenana students.                                                                                     
SENATOR WILKEN said that the fiscal  note might be off by as much                                                               
as 40 percent and it should be adjusted.                                                                                        
2:32:30 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   WILKEN   asked   how  districts   would   measure   the                                                               
effectiveness of the district  secondary school boarding programs                                                               
discussed on page 2, lines 21 - 23.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  answered that benchmark testing  and high                                                               
school exit  exams will  be a major  means of  assessing progress                                                               
and he  would continue  to help districts  work towards  having a                                                               
business  plan. He  said  that the  principle  measures would  be                                                               
academic achievement and economic soundness.                                                                                    
2:35:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILKEN said  he assumed  the sponsor  had talked  to the                                                               
department to see if it could follow through on those issues.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  responded  that  he  had  and  that  the                                                               
department had helped craft the language.                                                                                       
SENATOR  WILKEN  asked  if he  would  consider  using  benchmarks                                                               
rather than waiting for the five-year report on progress.                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL answered that he was open to that.                                                                       
2:38:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON asked if the state  is currently paying a stipend for                                                               
children to  go to boarding schools  when there is a  grades 9-12                                                               
school is available in their village.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied that it is not.                                                                                  
CHAIR DYSON questioned why only  six students in Nenana were from                                                               
schools that didn't have grades 9-12.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL responded  that is the case  and that this                                                               
bill would  allow children other  than those without  grades 9-12                                                               
in  their local  area to  receive  a state  stipend for  boarding                                                               
school expenses.                                                                                                                
CHAIR  DYSON commented  that the  state would  go from  providing                                                               
education where  there is no  option to subsidizing  students who                                                               
choose a residential program.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  recognized  that as  being  correct.  He                                                               
added  that he  wanted to  limit the  subsidy, because  the state                                                               
needs to establish policy.                                                                                                      
2:41:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   ELTON   asked   if   the  stipend   and   travel   cost                                                               
reimbursements are dependent upon the  student being counted in a                                                               
district's average daily membership (ADM).                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL replied:                                                                                                 
     My  immediate understanding  is no;  if they  have been                                                                    
     counted in  one school,  then, if  they move  to Nenana                                                                    
     mid-year or  after the count, then  my understanding of                                                                    
     that is -  and Eddy can maybe straighten me  out - that                                                                    
     the Nenana  boarding school just  picks up the  cost of                                                                    
     that and that  would probably be no  different than any                                                                    
     other school....                                                                                                           
2:43:08 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON commented  that he  is a  product of  the boarding                                                               
school system  and that the state  really has only four  years to                                                               
influence people.  If it now  waits four  years to make  a policy                                                               
call,  many good  students  would be  lost.  The boarding  school                                                               
student is  someone with  the ability and  ambition to  leave the                                                               
village and  often because their  parents placed a high  value on                                                               
education.  He said that  consequently those students are some of                                                               
the best.                                                                                                                       
JIM  SMITH,   Superintendent  Of  Schools,  Galena   City  School                                                               
District, supported  CSHB 16(RLS).   He  related that  the parent                                                               
program for  this issue  allowed children  from the  Interior the                                                               
opportunity to pursue vocational  education options, but was very                                                               
difficult for  them to  travel to larger  towns and  have success                                                               
because  their   propensity  was   to  be  grounded   in  smaller                                                               
communities. In Galena, the School  District felt that the unused                                                               
Air  Force facilities  could be  used for  students and  that now                                                               
provides opportunity and safety for  many of the best students in                                                               
rural areas.                                                                                                                    
ROB LINDQUIST,  Nenana, testified that Nenana  has struggled with                                                               
supporting  its  facility  and   expected  to  have  88  students                                                               
enrolled for  the next year. He  didn't see that number  going up                                                               
in  the foreseeable  future unless  it started  using their  four                                                               
handicapped-designed rooms.  Currently there are 61  students. He                                                               
said HB  16 would  allow the state  to get ahead  of the  ball in                                                               
developing its  boarding school policy  by discovering  what does                                                               
and what does not work ahead of time.                                                                                           
2:48:31 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  DYSON asked  if a  needs-based test  were administered  to                                                               
prevent stipends  from going to students  from relatively wealthy                                                               
homes, would many in his area be precluded from the stipends.                                                                   
MR. LINDQUIST replied  that the majority of students  in his area                                                               
would  fit  into  that  category. This  year  they  have  already                                                               
instituted  a $1,000  annual registration  fee and  the Rasmussen                                                               
Foundation was concerned, because only  about 50 percent of their                                                               
kids actually pay  that fee. The comment was made  that they have                                                               
to pay for their food at home  and they should be expected to pay                                                               
for it  at school,  but he  has found in  going through  a waiver                                                               
process with  their parents,  that a  lot of  them don't  pay for                                                               
housing or  food at home.  They either have public  assistance or                                                               
subsistence. A small percentage of  the parents in his area could                                                               
pay for such a service, but many could not.                                                                                     
2:50:58 PM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE JOHNSON,  Alaska State School Board  Association, said that                                                               
many  rural high  schools do  not have  the ability  to meet  the                                                               
needs of  their students and  this bill would assist  children in                                                               
those areas.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DYSON  asked if  the State School  Board Association  is in                                                               
favor of boarding  schools in general as well as  the stipends to                                                               
subsidize the students attending them.                                                                                          
MR.  JOHNSON replied,  "Yes, we  believe that  without that  it's                                                               
going to  be hard to sustain  the boarding programs that  are now                                                               
in  operation,  because  of  the high  cost  of  the  residential                                                               
CHAIR  DYSON asked  if  the  Board wants  the  state  to pay  the                                                               
stipend even  when there is a  9-12 program in the  village where                                                               
the student was attending school.                                                                                               
MR. JOHNSON answered  that the Board did  not distinguish between                                                               
those  students who  did not  have  a high  school available  and                                                               
those  who  just wanted  to  go  there.  The  first part  of  its                                                               
resolution  in  favor  of  this   issue  supports  expanding  the                                                               
boarding  home program  to provide  adequate funding  for locally                                                               
controlled   and   operated   regional  boarding   high   schools                                                               
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
2:53:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  OLSON said  this program  had  been going  on for  seven                                                               
years and  asked how many  students had gone  on to some  kind of                                                               
formal higher education.                                                                                                        
MR. JOHNSON replied that he didn't know.                                                                                        
SENATOR WILKEN asked:                                                                                                           
     Can I infer from your testimony  that if we could get a                                                                    
     head  of steam  together  to come  up  with a  boarding                                                                    
     school policy, the Alaska  Association of School Boards                                                                    
     would be there to help in that effort?                                                                                     
MR. JOHNSON replied:                                                                                                            
     Absolutely. We think that would  be good public policy.                                                                    
     It's probably long  overdue. It's much-talked-about, so                                                                    
     any assistance  that we  could lend,  we would  be more                                                                    
     than willing.                                                                                                              
2:54:25 PM                                                                                                                    
EDDY  JEANS, Director,  School Finance,  Department of  Education                                                               
and Early Development  (DEED), said that the  State Board adopted                                                               
a resolution in support of  the five-year pilot program currently                                                               
operating for  boarding schools in Nenana,  Kuskokwim and Galena.                                                               
He has also struggled with developing a statewide policy.                                                                       
     It's  the old  'which comes  first  - the  cart or  the                                                                    
     horse?'  Do we  develop the  policy and  see if  we get                                                                    
     funding  or do  we ask  for some  funding to  support a                                                                    
     pilot program  and develop policy based  on information                                                                    
     we gathered from that?                                                                                                     
With respect  to an  earlier question  about funding  through the                                                               
Foundation program, which  is separate from the  funding they are                                                               
talking about here. He explained:                                                                                               
     This  bill  deals  with the  residential  component  to                                                                    
     house   students  in   a   residential  facility.   The                                                                    
     Foundation program  - the funding goes  to the district                                                                    
     where  the kid  is being  served during  the Foundation                                                                    
     count period.  So, if  the child  is in  Nenana, Nenana                                                                    
     generates the dollars. If the  child is in Fairbanks or                                                                    
     Eagle  River,  they  generate the  dollars.  After  the                                                                    
     Foundation  count is  over, if  a  child moves  between                                                                    
     communities, the money does not follow the child.                                                                          
     The  one  thing  I  wanted   to  make  clear  with  the                                                                    
     residential  component, under  the current  program for                                                                    
     those kids that  do not have daily  access, the stipend                                                                    
     is paid on a monthly basis.  So, if for some reason the                                                                    
     child was in a correspondence  program at home and then                                                                    
     started  attending the  residential  program after  the                                                                    
     count period,  we'd pick up  the monthly  stipends from                                                                    
     that point forward.  Or vice versa, if they  are in the                                                                    
     program  and  they  discontinue,  the  monthly  stipend                                                                    
     stops  from the  point they  leave  to the  end of  the                                                                    
     school year.                                                                                                               
2:56:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON said it's easy to  see how that would work with the                                                               
home schooled  child, but the  rest of  the question is  the West                                                               
Valley  student  who is  counted  as  a  student there  and  then                                                               
MR.  JEANS explained  that right  now the  West Valley  child who                                                               
moves to  Galena after  the Foundation  count isn't  eligible for                                                               
the stipend  because he has  daily access to a  secondary program                                                               
in his  community. "It's those  other students that  have elected                                                               
to  go to  that  program  by choice  that  the department  cannot                                                               
provide  any   financial  support  for  the   operations  of  the                                                               
residential component...."                                                                                                      
CHAIR DYSON said, "But you would if this bill passed."                                                                          
SENATOR ELTON said  it seems like they are paying  a school for a                                                               
student that isn't there and also  paying a stipend for that same                                                               
student when he arrives at the new school.                                                                                      
MR.  JEANS responded  that the  Foundation count  period is  done                                                               
statewide in  the month  of October. Students  come and  go after                                                               
that  count period  and  the districts  are  not compensated  for                                                               
CHAIR  DYSON remarked  that lots  of districts  suffer inequities                                                               
because of in migration of students after the count period.                                                                     
MR.  JEANS  admitted,   "That  very  well  could   be  true,  Mr.                                                               
2:59:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WILKEN  asked him  to  explain  how  the amount  of  the                                                               
stipend is justified.                                                                                                           
MR.  JEANS  replied that  the  department  developed the  monthly                                                               
stipends  in 1990  based on  a number  of studies  on food  costs                                                               
established by  a University of Alaska  Extension Service survey,                                                               
housing  cost updates  from  the  Alaska Geographic  Differential                                                               
Study in  1985 and other  factors. The amount has  been increased                                                               
on an annual basis according to the Anchorage CPI.                                                                              
SENATOR WILKEN asked him who makes that decision.                                                                               
MR. JEANS indicated the commissioner of the DEED.                                                                               
SENATOR WILKEN asked  if the commissioner has  some discretion in                                                               
making that determination.                                                                                                      
MR. JEANS replied that he does have such discretion.                                                                            
3:03:54 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON  asked why the stipend  amount is not being  put in                                                               
statute and  if the  legislature is able  to prorate  the funding                                                               
for it  - instead  of appropriating  the full  amount as  it does                                                               
with other programs.                                                                                                            
MR. JEANS  answered that  the current  boarding home  program has                                                               
been around  for a long  time and  this bill attempts  to provide                                                               
some state  support for  the boarding  component of  the program,                                                               
but not fully reimburse that cost.  He reasoned:                                                                                
     Without trying  to recreate the  wheel, I said  we have                                                                    
     this  program on  the books  right  now and  it's on  a                                                                    
     regional  basis -  we  have five  regions.  I said  you                                                                    
     could really kind  of piggyback on that  and that's why                                                                    
     we're here today with this  concept. I think that if at                                                                    
     the end of  the five-year pilot, the  report that comes                                                                    
     back  from the  department will  probably include  some                                                                    
     statutory  language. We  would  want it  in statute  at                                                                    
     that point what the policy is for these programs.                                                                          
SENATOR ELTON asked  since there have been  several references to                                                               
the  fiscal note,  if  a future  legislature,  given the  current                                                               
language of  the bill,  would be able  to under-fund  the stipend                                                               
program or prorate it.                                                                                                          
MR. JEANS answered said that the legislature has that ability.                                                                  
SENATOR WILKEN asked Mr. Smith  [Galena School District] what his                                                               
plans are  because his capacity  is 100  students and he  now has                                                               
only 62.                                                                                                                        
MR. SMITH replied that he plans  to enroll 100 students if he has                                                               
the support provided in this bill.                                                                                              
SENATOR WILKEN asked if he had a waiting list that long.                                                                        
MR. SMITH replied yes.                                                                                                          
CHAIR  DYSON asked  if  he wouldn't  be  able to  get  up to  100                                                               
students enrolled without this bill.                                                                                            
MR. SMITH replied  that he would probably enroll  85 because that                                                               
fits the school-side of the facility better.                                                                                    
SENATOR ELTON said  that he had prepared an amendment  on page 2,                                                               
line 10,  to address  the phrase  "in which  domiciliary services                                                               
are provided"  which referenced a  district rather than  a school                                                               
and he asked the sponsor to consider it.                                                                                        
CHAIR  DYSON encouraged  everyone to  look at  the amendment  and                                                               
held the bill for a future meeting.                                                                                             

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