Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/13/2003 11:05 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION                                                                            
                         March 13, 2003                                                                                         
                           11:05 a.m.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                              
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto, Chair                                                                                                
Representative Paul Seaton, Vice Chair                                                                                          
Representative John Coghill                                                                                                     
Representative Peggy Wilson                                                                                                     
Representative Kelly Wolf                                                                                                       
Representative Les Gara                                                                                                         
Representative Mary Kapsner                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 154                                                                                                              
"An  Act  relating to  admission  to  and advancement  in  public                                                               
schools  of  children under  school  age;  and providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSHB 154(EDU) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 165                                                                                                              
"An  Act relating  to  community schools;  and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 165 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 171                                                                                                              
"An  Act   repealing  the  charter  school   grant  program;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED HB 171 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HOUSE BILL NO. 174                                                                                                              
"An Act  relating to the  state centralized  correspondence study                                                               
program,  to   funding  for   educational  programs   that  occur                                                               
primarily outside school facilities, and  to the duties of school                                                               
boards  of  borough  and  city   school  districts  and  regional                                                               
educational  attendance areas;  and  providing  for an  effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS ACTION                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 154                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:UNDER SCHOOL AGE STUDENTS                                                                                           
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/05/03     0421       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
                                   REFERRALS                                                                                    
03/05/03     0421       (H)        EDU, HES, FIN                                                                                
03/05/03     0422       (H)        FN1: (EED)                                                                                   
03/05/03     0422       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
03/11/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
03/11/03                (H)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
                                   MINUTE(EDU)                                                                                  
03/13/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 165                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:COMMUNITY SCHOOLS                                                                                                   
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/05/03     0437       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
                                   REFERRALS                                                                                    
03/05/03     0437       (H)        EDU, HES, FIN                                                                                
03/05/03     0437       (H)        FN1: (EED)                                                                                   
03/05/03     0437       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
03/11/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
03/11/03                (H)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
                                   MINUTE(EDU)                                                                                  
03/13/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 171                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE:REPEAL CHARTER SCHOOL GRANTS                                                                                        
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/05/03     0445       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
                                   REFERRALS                                                                                    
03/05/03     0445       (H)        EDU, HES, FIN                                                                                
03/05/03     0445       (H)        FN1: (EED)                                                                                   
03/05/03     0445       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
03/11/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
03/11/03                (H)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
                                   MINUTE(EDU)                                                                                  
03/13/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
BILL: HB 174                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: CORRESPONDENCE STUDY                                                                                               
SPONSOR(S): RLS BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Jrn-Date   Jrn-Page                     Action                                                                                  
03/05/03     0449       (H)        READ THE FIRST TIME -                                                                        
                                   REFERRALS                                                                                    
03/05/03     0449       (H)        EDU, HES, FIN                                                                                
03/05/03     0449       (H)        FN1: (EED)                                                                                   
03/05/03     0449       (H)        GOVERNOR'S TRANSMITTAL LETTER                                                                
03/10/03     0496       (H)        FN2: (EED)                                                                                   
03/11/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
03/11/03                (H)        Heard & Held                                                                                 
                                   MINUTE(EDU)                                                                                  
03/13/03                (H)        EDU AT 11:00 AM CAPITOL 124                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
DEE HUBBARD                                                                                                                     
Sterling, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified via teleconference on HB 154 and                                                                 
HB 165, and asked questions from the committee.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
EDDY JEANS, Manager                                                                                                             
School Finance and Facilities Section                                                                                           
Education Support Services                                                                                                      
Department of Education and Early Development                                                                                   
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of HB 154, HB 165, HB                                                                 
171, and HB 174, and responded to questions from the committee.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
KATHLEEN FLEMIN, Community Schools Monitor                                                                                      
Matanuska-Susitna School District                                                                                               
Talkeetna, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified via teleconference in opposition                                                                 
to HB 165.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JACK CADIGAN                                                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174, offered                                                                 
suggestions, and answered questions from the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
LAURELL CLOUGH                                                                                                                  
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174 and                                                                      
answered questions from the committee.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
RICK CURRIER, School Counselor;                                                                                                 
English and Elective Teacher                                                                                                    
Alyeska Central School                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JEANNE FOY                                                                                                                      
Alyeska Central School Education Association                                                                                    
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL I. JEFFERY, Presiding Judge                                                                                             
Alaska Superior Court                                                                                                           
Barrow, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified via teleconference as a parent in                                                                
opposition to HB 174.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
RICH KRONBERG, President                                                                                                        
NEA-Alaska                                                                                                                      
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174 and                                                                      
offered suggestions to the committee.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ALEXANDER DOLITSKY, Ph.D., Social Studies Teacher                                                                               
Alyeska Central School                                                                                                          
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JON PADEN, Ph.D., Counselor                                                                                                     
Alyeska Central School;                                                                                                         
Representative, Alyeska Central School Association                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to HB 174.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
VICTORIA MARTIN                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified via teleconference in opposition                                                                 
to HB 174.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JOYCE JONES                                                                                                                     
Karluk, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified via teleconference in opposition                                                                 
to HB 174.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SHEILA SYMONS                                                                                                                   
Central, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION  STATEMENT: Testified  via teleconference  in opposition                                                               
to HB 174.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JESSIE GIYER                                                                                                                    
Palmer, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified via teleconference  in opposition                                                               
to HB 174.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
NANCY RICHAR                                                                                                                    
Trapper Creek, Alaska                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified via teleconference  in opposition                                                               
to HB 174.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-11, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR CARL GATTO called the  House Special Committee on Education                                                             
meeting to  order at 11:05  a.m.  Representatives  Gatto, Seaton,                                                               
Wilson,  Wolf, Gara,  and Kapsner  were  present at  the call  to                                                               
order.    Representative  Coghill  joined the  committee  as  the                                                               
meeting was in progress.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
HB 154-UNDER SCHOOL AGE STUDENTS                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the first order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  154,  "An  Act relating  to  admission  to  and                                                               
advancement in public  schools of children under  school age; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0280                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DEE  HUBBARD  testified  via  teleconference.     She  asked  the                                                               
committee  about  the   meaning  of  the  language   in  HB  154,                                                               
specifically, starting on page 1,  line 9, and going through line                                                               
10,  saying "a  district's educational  program must  prescribe".                                                               
She asked  if this  mean that  even if  a child  is not  ready to                                                               
advance  to the  next grade,  he/she must  advance; or  does this                                                               
mean  that the  program itself  has to  prescribe that  stepping-                                                               
stone capability.  Ms. Hubbard  commented that this appears to be                                                               
another  unfunded mandate  for school  districts.   She told  the                                                               
committee she really appreciates the  fact that districts can get                                                               
children into school early.  She  has been seeing no money coming                                                               
with  all of  these bills  that  have made  dramatic requests  of                                                               
school districts over the past  few years.  School district money                                                               
is drying  up.  She  told the  committee she thinks  there should                                                               
have been  a fiscal note to  tell the school districts  what they                                                               
will have to pay if a bill like this passes.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0435                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO read [lines 9  through 11], which said, "A district's                                                           
educational   program  must   prescribe  that   under  school-age                                                           
students advance  through the  curriculum or  grade level  by the                                                           
following school year."                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUBBARD  asked if that  means the student must  advance, even                                                               
if he/she is  not ready, or whether this is  about the district's                                                               
prescribing stepping stones for advancement.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  stated that this  language refers to  children under                                                               
school age.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON said  the  intent in  the  language is  to                                                               
address schools that  have two-year kindergarten programs.   If a                                                               
child comes  to kindergarten and  is capable  and ready to  go to                                                               
first grade,  the school  district must put  that child  in first                                                               
grade  rather  than  through  a   second  year  of  kindergarten.                                                               
Representative  Wilson  told  Ms.   Hubbard  that  districts  get                                                               
funding through  the foundation formula  for every child  that is                                                               
in the school system.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUBBARD  responded that while  the district does  get funding                                                               
for children in the school  system, there are still many unfunded                                                               
mandates.  She repeated her question  by asking if the bill means                                                               
that  a child  may remain  in  kindergarten or  advance to  first                                                               
grade when he/she  is ready.  She asked if  her interpretation is                                                               
correct.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0648                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  Mr.  Jeans if  the  department  is                                                               
saying  the funding  for a  second year  would not  be in  place.                                                               
What would  be the penalty for  an individual student?   He asked                                                               
if what the plan is for the entire program.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0670                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDDY  JEANS,  Manager,  School Finance  and  Facilities  Section,                                                               
Education  Support Services,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development, responded  to the committee's  questions on  HB 154.                                                               
He told the committee the intent  of this piece of legislation is                                                               
to address the  current policy of some school  districts that are                                                               
claiming all four-year-olds for kindergarten funding in a two-                                                                  
year  kindergarten  program.     This  bill  will  eliminate  the                                                               
districts' ability  to do that.   It does not block  a district's                                                               
ability to enroll a four-year-old  that is ready for kindergarten                                                               
and expects to move on to first grade in the following year.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HUBBARD  responded  that  she does  understand  what  he  is                                                               
saying.   She said she still  has questions, but will  take those                                                               
questions to the next committee of referral.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  commented that  what he understands  this to  say is                                                               
that if an  under school-aged child is  admitted to kindergarten,                                                               
it is  expected that that  child will go on  to first grade.   If                                                               
that expectation is  not there, the child should  never have been                                                               
admitted  into kindergarten  in  the first  place.   Chair  Gatto                                                               
pointed out  that putting  this language  in statute  [that these                                                               
students are  expected to move  on to the next  grade] eliminates                                                               
the possibility of districts' trying to work around the system.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. HUBBARD  responded that is  exactly what her problem  is with                                                               
this bill.   If statute  states that a  child can only  remain in                                                               
that grade  for one year,  it is pushing a  child on to  the next                                                               
grade even  if he/she  is not  ready.  She  asked what  good that                                                               
would do.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO replied  that the  whole point  of putting  an under                                                               
school-age child  in kindergarten at  four years old is  that the                                                               
child  is  ready.    This  legislation  is  intended  to  prevent                                                               
underage  children who  are not  ready from  being admitted  into                                                               
kindergarten.    This  bill  would   also  eliminate  a  two-year                                                               
kindergarten  program   that  some  districts   have  implemented                                                               
through a loophole in the statutes.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0908                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked Mr. Jeans  how many four-year-olds will                                                               
lose funding statewide.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  responded that he  does not  know because he  does not                                                               
know  how  liberally school  districts  have  been applying  this                                                               
provision.   He stated that this  bill and fiscal note  are based                                                               
on the  number of all  four-year-olds the department  funded this                                                               
year.   He said he  believes that  the number of  true four-year-                                                               
olds  that are  the exceptional  children who  will be  ready for                                                               
kindergarten will be a minimal number.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  said he  needs to  know how  many four-year-                                                               
olds the department is talking  about before the committee passes                                                               
this bill.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS said  he can  provide  the committee  with the  actual                                                               
number  of students  that were  claimed this  year and  which the                                                               
department used to  generate the fiscal note.   Mr. Jeans pointed                                                               
out that  those four-year-olds that  were claimed this  year will                                                               
not be losing  anything, since they will be  in kindergarten next                                                               
year.   The  department will  be  providing funding  for them  as                                                               
five-year-olds in kindergarten.   What this bill  does is prevent                                                               
those districts  that are enrolling  all four-year-olds  in their                                                               
communities from doing it next year.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1057                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  told the  committee there are  two amendments  to HB                                                               
154.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1100                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA moved to adopt Amendment 1, labeled 23-                                                                     
GH1123\a.1, Ford, 3/10/03, which read:.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, line 1:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
          Delete "admission to and"                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 1, lines 11 -13:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
          Delete "A child under school age may be admitted                                                                  
     to  first  grade  or  higher if  the  child  meets  the                                                                
     minimum standards  prescribed by  the board  under this                                                                
     subsection."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1150                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL objected to Amendment 1.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO commented that he  agrees completely with Amendment 1                                                               
because it is  simply redundant language that  appears earlier in                                                               
the bill.  This amendment simply  cleans up an error that someone                                                               
missed when drafting the bill.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked  if there is another  reason for the                                                               
language, and  said he would  like to hear what  the department's                                                               
position is on Amendment 1.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1207                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  responded that the  Department of Education  and Early                                                               
Development supports this amendment.   He noted that the original                                                               
draft  of HB  154 starting  on line  2 says  "may be  admitted to                                                               
first  grade or  higher that  meets the  minimum standards".   If                                                               
that language  were to remain  in the bill, the  department could                                                               
not allow  a child that is  four years old to  enter kindergarten                                                               
so  the rest  of that  referring to  the standards  prescribed is                                                               
covered in line 6 through 9.   It was not the department's intent                                                               
to block the district's ability  to enroll a bright four-year-old                                                               
in kindergarten.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL  responded  that he  remembers  testimony                                                               
that the  original intent was  to allow those that  could advance                                                               
to advance, but not create a two-year kindergarten system.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1295                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL removed his objection.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  asked if there  were any other objections.   Hearing                                                               
none, he announced that Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1302                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA   began  discussion  of  Amendment   2,  23-                                                               
GH1123\A.2, Findley/Ford, 3/13/03, which read:                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Page 1, following line 3:                                                                                                       
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
   "* Section  1.  The uncodified  law of the State  of Alaska is                                                           
amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                                        
     LEGISLATIVE INTENT.  It is the intent of the legislature                                                                   
that  public  school  funding  that  will be  saved  due  to  the                                                               
amendment made by sec. 2 of  this Act shall be redirected to head                                                               
start  preschool  programs  in  areas  of  the  state  where  the                                                               
programs are needed.  The current  program of state aid to public                                                               
schools is used  to provide early education for  children who are                                                               
four  years  old  in  a  manner  that  is  unequal  among  school                                                               
districts.   This  inequality, and  the  possibility that  school                                                               
districts might qualify for an  additional $50,000,000 or more in                                                               
public  school  funding  by  taking   advantage  of  the  current                                                               
statutory language, necessitates the amendment  made by sec. 2 of                                                               
this  Act.    However,  the  legislature  supports  the  goal  of                                                               
providing   learning  opportunities   for   preschool  and   pre-                                                               
kindergarten  children.   This goal  can  better be  accomplished                                                               
through  increased funding  to the  state's head  start programs.                                                               
Thus, any  money saved by  the amendment made  by sec. 2  of this                                                               
Act shall be redirected to state head start programs."                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Page 1, line 4:                                                                                                                 
     Delete "Section 1"                                                                                                       
     Insert "Sec. 2"                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA said  the testimony  from the  Department of                                                               
Education  and Early  Development  was not  necessarily that  the                                                               
department  wanted to  save the  $3.9 million  that is  currently                                                               
being spent on educating four-year-olds,  but that the intent was                                                               
to prevent a  future problem.  The future problem  that is feared                                                               
is that  if all  school districts  start utilizing  this two-year                                                               
kindergarten  program within  the  foundation  formula, it  might                                                               
turn out to  be a $60 million  fiscal note in a  matter of years.                                                               
Representative   Gara    said   he   is   sympathetic    to   the                                                               
administration's concerns  of the program's mushrooming  to a $60                                                               
million fiscal note, but not  sympathetic to the idea of removing                                                               
the  existing program  without providing  something  to take  its                                                               
place.  He  compared the bill to restructuring a  house by taking                                                               
out  all  the  beams,  and letting  the  house  collapse  because                                                               
nothing is  being constructed to take  its place.  He  said right                                                               
now  the state  is educating  four-year-olds; that  is not  a bad                                                               
thing.  It is being done  in a discriminatory manner, and that is                                                               
a bad  thing.  The  state is  only allowing four-year-olds  to be                                                               
educated in those  school districts that are  taking advantage of                                                               
a loophole  in the law,  and it is not  benefiting four-year-olds                                                               
in school districts that are not.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  told the committee the  earlier education of                                                               
children, the  better children  do in  school.   If the  state is                                                               
going to  withdraw this program,  that benefits an  untold number                                                               
of four-year-olds; he  said he has a problem voting  on this bill                                                               
without knowing  how many  children this will  affect.   He asked                                                               
what will be  put in its place.  Representative  Gara pointed out                                                               
that this may not be a  good program, but the department has only                                                               
answered  half the  question.   The  question is  what the  state                                                               
should be doing.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1429                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said  Amendment 2  addresses  the  question                                                               
about what should be done for  early childhood learning.  He said                                                               
early  childhood  learning  works,  and the  state's  Head  Start                                                               
Program is underfunded.  The  Head Start Program is available for                                                               
preschool  children   from  families  who  cannot   afford  other                                                               
preschool programs.   It is underfunded  to the tune of  about 77                                                               
percent.   He said the  last estimate he  saw was that  the state                                                               
funds   Head   Start  at   about   23   percent  of   the   need.                                                               
Representative  Gara  said he  does  not  have any  problem  with                                                               
taking  the $3.9  million  or whatever  savings  are achieved  by                                                               
enacting this bill and redirecting  those funds to the Head Start                                                               
Program.   He said he  heard from  the school districts  that the                                                               
actual savings will  be about $3.5 million.   Representative Gara                                                               
said he has no problem  withdrawing these educational services if                                                               
the  state puts  something better  in  their place  for the  same                                                               
amount of money.   Amendment 2 would state that  it is the intent                                                               
of  the   legislature  to  redirect   the  savings   achieved  by                                                               
eradicating this program  for four-year-olds so that  it shall be                                                               
used more efficiently by funding the Head Start Program.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO  commented that  what  the  amendment says  is  that                                                               
whatever funds  are saved in  this bill  would be shifted  to the                                                               
Head Start Program around the state.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA explained  that  if the  governor could  not                                                               
efficiently use the $3.5 million  this year, then the funds would                                                               
not  have to  be spent.    The amendment  would leave  it to  the                                                               
discretion of the  governor to efficiently use these  funds up to                                                               
the $3.5 million.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1542                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Representative  Gara moved  to adopt  Amendment 2  [text provided                                                               
previously].                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1559                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL objected  to Amendment 2.   He pointed out                                                               
that the program  districts have been utilizing  was not intended                                                               
as the policy  states in statute.  If  the legislature eradicates                                                               
a program, that  issue is up for debate.   Representative Coghill                                                               
said  he  believes  the  letter of  intent  [this  amendment]  is                                                               
circumventing  that whole  policy discussion,  which he  believes                                                               
the committee  should not  do.   He said  he believes  the policy                                                               
discussion  before the  committee is  cleaning up  that point  in                                                               
statute that says what the  state will supply for educating those                                                               
younger children who are capable of  going on.  That is a totally                                                               
appropriate  policy  call.     Representative  Coghill  told  the                                                               
committee the intent  of the bill is to clean  up the language so                                                               
it will reflect the intent of the statute.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   commented  that   he  agrees   with  the                                                               
principle  of getting  more money  into the  Head Start  Program.                                                               
However, he  believes there should  be a  bill on the  Head Start                                                               
Program  to do  that.   He said  he is  uncomfortable doing  that                                                               
through  a method  of taking  funds that  were used  in the  K-12                                                               
system and  routing it this way.   The federal government  is not                                                               
fully funding Head Start now, so  he does not believe state funds                                                               
would have  federal matching funds.   Representative  Seaton said                                                               
he still does not have a full determination on that issue.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  told the  committee  one  other issue  to                                                               
consider in this amendment is that  this reduction is part of the                                                               
governor's package  of reductions.   The budget presented  by the                                                               
governor includes this money being  eliminated from this program;                                                               
to have this money being redirected  to Head Start would mean the                                                               
legislature would have to find  that $3.5 million or $3.9 million                                                               
in the  budget to  fund this section.   Although  conceptually he                                                               
supports  early childhood  education, he  said he  would have  to                                                               
oppose the amendment.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1746                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER told the  committee that she is supportive                                                               
of  the  amendment and  agrees  that  it  is a  policy  decision;                                                               
however, in the absence of  that discussion, she believes this is                                                               
a good amendment  to the bill.  She said  she supports Head Start                                                               
not  just  because there  are  parents  who cannot  afford  other                                                               
preschool programs, but because there  is the issue of poverty of                                                               
access.   There are  so many  communities in  Alaska that  do not                                                               
have any alternative.  She said  in the absence of a preschool or                                                               
Head Start  Program, there is  nothing that  can be done  for the                                                               
children who  come to school  lacking oral  skills or who  do not                                                               
have a print-rich environment.  She  told the committee she is in                                                               
favor of the amendment.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1787                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  said  he  would  work  with  Representative                                                               
Seaton to  find a way  to fund the Head  Start Program in  a more                                                               
appropriate  manner.   He  still  maintains  his support  of  the                                                               
amendment because the bill the committee  is looking at is a non-                                                               
comprehensive  approach to  how  the state  is  going to  educate                                                               
young children.  It takes  away schooling from four-year-olds and                                                               
does not  give anything back.   If the governor would  propose an                                                               
efficiency measure  that would better educate  four-year-olds, he                                                               
said he would  be happy to support it.   Representative Gara told                                                               
the  committee that  he does  not  feel that  it is  his role  to                                                               
support the  exact budget number  the governor has proposed.   He                                                               
said  he supports  budget reductions  but not  to the  point that                                                               
they withdraw educational opportunities from children.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
A roll  call vote  was taken.   Representatives Gara  and Kapsner                                                               
voted in favor of Amendment 2  to HB 154.  Representatives Gatto,                                                               
Seaton, Coghill, Wilson,  and Wolf voted against  it.  Therefore,                                                               
Amendment 2 failed to be adopted by a vote of 2-5.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  moved to report  HB 154, as  amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal notes.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1897                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER  objected,  saying  that  a  lot  of  the                                                               
discussion is based on the fiscal  implications of the bill.  She                                                               
said that  many Representatives  have said they  wish to  let the                                                               
House Finance Committee  deal with the fiscal  implications.  She                                                               
told the committee  that she believes the members are  all on the                                                               
House Special  Committee on Education  because they share  a firm                                                               
commitment to further education to  Alaska's children to the best                                                               
of  their abilities.    She said  she does  not  think this  bill                                                               
furthers education to the best of the members' abilities.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  agreed with  Representative Kapsner  that it                                                               
is the  members' job to find  a way to educate  Alaska's children                                                               
better, not  to find  a way to  educate Alaska's  children worse.                                                               
This  bill,  by not  taking  a  comprehensive approach,  educates                                                               
Alaska's children worse.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Gatto,  Seaton,                                                               
Coghill, Wilson, and Wolf voted in  favor of reporting HB 154, as                                                               
amended, from committee.  Representatives  Gara and Kapsner voted                                                               
against  it.   Therefore, HB  154(HES)  was reported  out of  the                                                               
House Special Committee on Education by a vote of 5-2.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 165-COMMUNITY SCHOOLS                                                                                                      
Number 2050                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  next order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 165, "An  Act relating to community  schools; and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2113                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KATHLEEN  FLEMIN,   Community  Schools  Monitor   for  Talkeetna,                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna School  District, testified  via teleconference                                                               
in opposition to  HB 165.  She told the  committee that Talkeetna                                                               
has  about 350  residents, with  an  additional 500  on the  road                                                               
system.     The   town  has   very  dedicated   community  school                                                               
participants.     She  told  the   committee  she   keeps  yearly                                                               
statistics for both the fall  and spring semesters.  These number                                                               
may reflect  people who  participate more than  once.   Last year                                                               
community  schools had  44 volunteers  who  gave a  total of  890                                                               
hours to  the program, and  43 activities were offered,  with 432                                                               
people, both kids  and adults, enrolled.  She  told the committee                                                               
that  all that  was  accomplished  and she  is  just a  half-time                                                               
employee.  She  told the members they were getting  a lot of bang                                                               
for the buck for Talkeetna  community schools.  Talkeetna is only                                                               
one of two  schools in the Matanuska-Susitna area  with a monitor                                                               
and an active community schools  program.  Matanuska-Susitna used                                                               
to  have eight  community schools  programs, and  the program  is                                                               
already at  a bare-bones level.   A lot of people  feel that they                                                               
are paying for the schools  with property taxes, although many do                                                               
not have  children in the schools,  but by being able  to use the                                                               
facilities they develop a much  more positive sense of their role                                                               
in education.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. FLEMIN said the school in  a small town becomes the center of                                                               
the  community.   It has  the  town's only  gym, classrooms,  and                                                               
meeting space.   It  is a  safe, wholesome  place to  learn, have                                                               
fun, network with  other families, and make new friends.   If the                                                               
committee  needs  proof  of   Talkeetna's  support  of  community                                                               
schools, she could get 50  letters of support to members' offices                                                               
within a week, she said.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2239                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. FLEMIN  gave a brief summary  of the programs offered.   They                                                               
are  after-school programs  for  kids, including  roller-skating,                                                               
art, and  singing, which are  provided by  all-volunteer leaders.                                                               
Other programs  include many  health and  safety classes  such as                                                               
babysitting,    first    aid,   cardiopulmonary    resuscitation,                                                               
nutrition, and cooking.  Some  classes are taught by local health                                                               
professionals.  Ms. Flemin said  with the long winters the crafts                                                               
and gym activities  help people to have fun  with their neighbors                                                               
and  expand  their  circle  of  friends,  and  even  develop  new                                                               
moneymaking  skills.    Community  schools  offer  do-it-yourself                                                               
classes such as  woodworking and auto maintenance.   Tapping some                                                               
of  the very  well-educated local  folks, she  said she  has been                                                               
able  to work  with  the  University of  Alaska  system to  offer                                                               
classes with  optional college credit,  since the  nearest campus                                                               
is 75  miles away.  The  computer classes have been  very popular                                                               
with the  school's wonderful computer  lab, and the  school staff                                                               
agrees this resource should be made available to the public.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. FLEMIN  said local individuals  and businesses  have directly                                                               
benefited  by  these  low-cost  local  classes.    The  theme  of                                                               
lifelong  learning is  alive and  well, thanks  to the  community                                                               
schools  program.     With  a   small,  extra   expenditure,  the                                                               
legislature makes  it possible  for kids and  adults to  have the                                                               
opportunities to utilize the buildings  after the K-12 program is                                                               
over.  She said it provides  a very good message to students that                                                               
adults are coming into their  school to take classes voluntarily.                                                               
This is a win-win situation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2304                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  asked if Talkeetna  community school is part  of the                                                               
Matanuska-Susitna School District.   He told Ms.  Flemin that the                                                               
funding for Matanuska-Susitna community  schools would be reduced                                                               
25 percent,  and while it  does not eliminate  community schools,                                                               
it does  reduce the  funding.  Representative  Gatto told  her he                                                               
believes that  Matanuska-Susitna will  be able to  keep community                                                               
schools but  must find  funds to  make up  the difference  in the                                                               
reduction.   He commented  that in  some areas  of the  state the                                                               
funds were  reduced 100 percent,  because the state  was handling                                                               
100 percent of the community schools' costs.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. FLEMIN  asked if Chair  Gatto believed that  school districts                                                               
would  increase their  budgets to  cover community  schools, when                                                               
everyone seems to be cutting budgets.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO  responded  that  is  why  there  are  school  board                                                               
meetings.  It is certainly something that she could ask for.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. FLEMIN said that she fears the program will be lost.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2363                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DEE   HUBBARD,   a   resident    of   Sterling,   testified   via                                                               
teleconference on  HB 165.   She asked  the committee not  to cut                                                               
funding  to community  schools programming.   She  said when  she                                                               
lived in  Anchorage her entire  family participated  in community                                                               
schools,  and   she  even  taught   classes.     Previous  years'                                                               
discussions  have highlighted  that  this small  amount of  money                                                               
affects so  many people.  A  lot of people cannot  afford to take                                                               
classes if  the fees go  up.  She said  she sees this  as another                                                               
cut in educational programming.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO commented that the  state and school districts supply                                                               
the building,  heat, lights,  and snow removal.   He  pointed out                                                               
that there  is a fairly  large investment from the  districts and                                                               
the  state  already.   He  said  the  state is  asking  community                                                               
schools  to pick  up a  little more  in the  cost of  running the                                                               
program.   He  suggested going  to school  board meetings  to see                                                               
what else  could be done  to help keep community  school programs                                                               
operating.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2466                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  moved to  report HB  165 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER objected.   She said that  she has already                                                               
commented on her objection at previous meetings.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  said he  believes it  is poor  public policy                                                               
and   sloppy  educational   policy  to   take  away   educational                                                               
opportunities on  the grounds that  it is an  efficiency measure,                                                               
and then put  nothing in its place.  The  efficiencies need to be                                                               
thoughtful.  Representative  Gara said there is  no analysis from                                                               
the administration  on what  impact this  will have  on community                                                               
schools.  The committee does  not know how many community schools                                                               
will close  as a result  of this bill.   He noted that  the chart                                                               
the Department  of Education and  Early Development  provided the                                                               
committee shows  that 15 to  20 schools rely completely  on grant                                                               
funding received from  the state.  Eradicating  this program will                                                               
have a big  impact.  He pointed out that  in some communities the                                                               
only  programs  for at  risk-kids  and  GED [general  equivalency                                                               
diploma] programs are run by community schools.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2582                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDDY  JEANS,  Manager,  School  Finance  and  Facilities  Section                                                               
Education  Support Services,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development, testified on  HB 165.  Mr. Jeans  told the committee                                                               
that the schedule  provided to the committee  shows the community                                                               
schools  grant allocations  and  what has  been  reported in  the                                                               
school  districts'   financial  statement.    He   said  that  as                                                               
Representative Gara pointed  out, the committee may  note that in                                                               
some  districts  there  is  100  percent in  a  number  of  these                                                               
districts, but  what that represents  is that the  districts have                                                               
to account for that in a  special revenue fund outside the school                                                               
operating fund.  In many  of these cases, districts are providing                                                               
funding for  community schools  after hours  that exceed  what is                                                               
reflected.   The district  just is  not showing  that expenditure                                                               
over in the community schools grant  side.  It is just showing up                                                               
in  its operating  budget to  keep the  school open,  heated, and                                                               
lit.                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA pointed  out  that this  does  not show  the                                                               
expenses of  the school that  is there, and therefore  the amount                                                               
of money allocated and provided  for community schools.  He said,                                                               
for example, if 100 percent  of Alaska Gateway Schools comes from                                                               
the state grant program, then that  means that 100 percent of the                                                               
staffing comes  from the state grant  program.  He asked  if that                                                               
is correct.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  responded that what he  is saying is that  a number of                                                               
the  communities  have  head  teachers  who  live  right  in  the                                                               
community and go  over and open up  the gym to have  the gym open                                                               
for   after-hours   basketball   under   the   community   school                                                               
allocation.   It is simply a  function of that person's  job that                                                               
is showing up in the school's operating budget.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO said  the issue is pretty clear as  to whether or not                                                               
the  committee  wants to  vote  to  eliminate the  $500,000  from                                                               
community schools.   He  said this debate  can be  very extended,                                                               
with  the same  issues being  revisited.   Chair Gatto  commented                                                               
that he knows  Representative Gara wants to spend  the money some                                                               
other way  and the governor wants  to save the money.   The issue                                                               
is  not that  complicated.   Chair  Gatto told  the committee  he                                                               
would entertain new questions.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2733                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  how  many community  schools will  be                                                               
closed  because the  state is  withdrawing the  grant money.   He                                                               
told the  committee that the grant  money is used to  go out into                                                               
the community and  find more grant money.  He  asked Mr. Jeans if                                                               
he knows  how great a ripple  effect this will have  on community                                                               
schools.   How  much will  community schools  lose in  leveraging                                                               
these funds to obtain more funds?                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO responded that he does  not believe Mr. Jeans will be                                                               
able to  answer how many  community schools will close  until the                                                               
event occurs and  does not believe it is a  fair question.  Chair                                                               
Gatto said the  question about a ripple  effect through community                                                               
schools  on leveraging  funds is  questionable,  since the  state                                                               
does not even know if there is a  ripple effect or a savings.  He                                                               
told Representative Gara that no  one there is equipped to answer                                                               
these questions because they are theoretical questions.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2854                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  told the  committee that  if the  members do                                                               
not know  the answers  to these questions,  this bill  should not                                                               
pass out  of the committee because  he believes it is  bad public                                                               
policy.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Gatto,  Seaton,                                                               
Coghill,  Wilson, and  Wolf voted  in favor  of reporting  HB 165                                                               
from committee.   Representatives Gara and  Kapsner voted against                                                               
it.   Therefore, HB  165 was  reported out  of the  House Special                                                               
Committee on Education by a vote of 5-2.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 171-REPEAL CHARTER SCHOOL GRANTS                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2865                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  next order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 171, "An  Act repealing the charter  school grant                                                               
program; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked what the  definition is of a charter                                                               
school.   How does it  differ from a  public school or  a private                                                               
school?                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2954                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDDY  JEANS,  Manager,  School  Finance  and  Facilities  Section                                                               
Education  Support Services,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development, testified in  support of HB 171.   He explained that                                                               
a charter  school is actually  a public  school where there  is a                                                               
contract between the  parent advisory group, the  people that set                                                               
up the charter school, and the local district.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  asked if  charter schools have  a certain                                                               
mission that  they are  trying to  obtain.   How is  it different                                                               
than just a regular public school?                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  replied that  charter schools  are allowed  to develop                                                               
innovative educational programs that  the school district may not                                                               
be  employing  at  the  time.   Typically,  charter  schools  are                                                               
developed through a  grassroots movement by parents  that want to                                                               
be very involved in their children's education.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-11, SIDE B                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2998                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO agreed  with Mr.  Jeans  that the  parents are  very                                                               
involved in  their children's education.   They do  painting, fix                                                               
the heater, and volunteer in  the classrooms.  At Academy Charter                                                               
School  they might  have  100 students  enrolled,  and they  have                                                               
another  100 who  are trying  to enroll.   Midnight  Sun and  now                                                               
Horizon are also trying to do  a different take on how to educate                                                               
children by  getting parental input to  a large degree.   He said                                                               
he believes this is something  all the members wish would happen.                                                               
He  said often  the  schools are  in  substandard buildings,  but                                                               
fewer students are  in the classroom.  He told  of one friend who                                                               
is a pilot for FedEx and  was busy painting six buildings.  These                                                               
schools do have good community  involvement.  Chair Gatto said he                                                               
believes that  charter schools may  actually get more  money than                                                               
traditional schools because of startup funds that are available.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2933                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  asked what  the administration's  premise is                                                               
behind  the bill.    He  asked Mr.  Jeans  if  the reason  behind                                                               
removing startup funding for charter  schools is based on federal                                                               
funding to take its place.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS replied that is correct.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  asked  if   the  federal  funding  will  be                                                               
adequate for startup of charter schools.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  responded that adequate funding  is in the eye  of the                                                               
beholder.   The  amount of  money that  is being  proposed to  be                                                               
allocated  through  federal  startup  grants is  more  than  what                                                               
charter schools are currently receiving  under the combined total                                                               
of the  federal and  state grant funding.   Charter  schools will                                                               
get more money.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA asked  if the federal grant  has been enacted                                                               
yet or is still under discussion in Congress.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS said  that there  is actually  an application  process                                                               
that  the  state must  go  through.    The state  charter  school                                                               
administrator has  already been in  contact with the  director of                                                               
charter  schools at  the U.S.  Department of  Education.   He has                                                               
indicated that he is supportive of this proposal.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  asked  whether   there  is  a  100  percent                                                               
certainty that the state will receive this money.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS replied that  it is not 100 percent sure,  but he has a                                                               
letter  supporting this  proposal  from the  director of  charter                                                               
schools, who  knows [the state's]  application is coming  and who                                                               
has given  every indication  that he  will approve  [the state's]                                                               
request.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA said he is  concerned with enacting this bill                                                               
in the  event that there might  be problems with the  approval by                                                               
the U.S.  Department of Education.   The  state needs to  be sure                                                               
not to make  the mistake of eliminating the funding  only to find                                                               
out the federal funding is not coming through.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS  responded that  the  bill  has  a one-year  delay  in                                                               
effective date  as it is.   If the grant  does not come  from the                                                               
federal government, the legislature could readdress this.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2805                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  moved to  report HB  171 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  objected  to  the  motion.    He  told  the                                                               
committee he would support the bill  when the state knows it will                                                               
receive federal  funding.   He said he  cannot support  this bill                                                               
based on the administration's representation  that it believes it                                                               
will receive this funding.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Gatto,  Seaton,                                                               
Coghill,  Wilson, and  Wolf voted  in favor  of reporting  HB 171                                                               
from committee.   Representatives Gara and  Kapsner voted against                                                               
it.   Therefore, HB  171 was  reported out  of the  House Special                                                               
Committee on Education by a vote of 5-2.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the committee would take  a brief at-                                                               
ease at 11:58 a.m.  The committee reconvened at 12:06 p.m.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
HB 174- CORRESPONDENCE STUDY                                                                                                  
Number 2751                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO announced  that the final order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 174,  "An Act relating  to the  state centralized                                                               
correspondence   study  program,   to  funding   for  educational                                                               
programs that  occur primarily outside school  facilities, and to                                                               
the duties of school boards  of borough and city school districts                                                               
and regional  educational attendance areas; and  providing for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2700                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JACK CADIGAN told the committee he  is a retired U.S. Coast Guard                                                               
captain,   retired  teacher,   and  physics   professor  at   the                                                               
University  of  Alaska,  and  taught  physics,  mathematics,  and                                                               
physical  science  at  the  Alyeska   Central  School  (ACS)  for                                                               
thirteen years.   He told the committee he sees  four issues with                                                               
the bill.   First  is the  savings to the  state in  closing ACS,                                                               
which is  shown in the  fiscal notes.   Fiscal note 1  includes a                                                               
projection  for savings  in fiscal  year 2004  (FY 04)  of [$5.5]                                                               
million from the  foundation fund to operate the  K-12 portion of                                                               
Alyeska  Central  School.   In  addition,  it cites  $500,000  in                                                               
receipt services from 33 other Alaska school districts.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.CADIGAN said in fiscal note  2, the department notes a savings                                                               
of  [$1.17]  million from  the  secession  of the  summer  school                                                               
program as an option for Alaska's  students.  He pointed out that                                                               
Mr. Jeans acknowledged  the fact that the only  actual savings to                                                               
the  state would  be the  closing of  the summer  school program.                                                               
This is  because the remainder  would simply be  redistributed to                                                               
the  various districts  absorbing ACS's  students.   To summarize                                                               
what  Mr. Jeans  said,  Mr. Cadigan  noted  that closing  Alyeska                                                               
Central  School Summer  School Program  saves  the state  [$1.17]                                                               
million, and  closing the Alyeska  Central School  entirely still                                                               
only  saves the  state [$1.17]  million.   Mr.  Cadigan told  the                                                               
committee  this  fact  was  alluded   to  by  Mr.  Jeans  in  his                                                               
testimony, so  fiscal note  1 would seem  irrelevant if  there is                                                               
neither  savings   to  be   realized  nor   superior  educational                                                               
environments to be  provided.  Thus the question  pertains to the                                                               
quality  of   education  provided   by  Alyeska   Central  School                                                               
District.   Please note that  the school is fully  accredited, he                                                               
told  members.   Numbered among  its graduates  are students  who                                                               
have   distinguished    themselves   at    numerous   prestigious                                                               
universities.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2625                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CADIGAN said  there seem to be 11  other districts authorized                                                               
to  operate   distance  education  for  the   next  fiscal  year.                                                               
Research  on the  Department of  Education and  Early Development                                                               
and school district web sites  reveals that three of these define                                                               
themselves  as   charter  schools,  four  define   themselves  as                                                               
providing  homeschool support  through  provisions of  computers,                                                               
and  an allotment  varies from  $1,400  to $1,500  to $1,800  per                                                               
student.   Another provides an  undefined level of  home support,                                                               
and three provide no web site  information at all.  Five of these                                                               
districts  currently  purchase  some  services  from  ACS  simply                                                               
because they  do not  themselves provide  similar service.   Thus                                                               
the students  being evicted  from Alyeska  Central School  do not                                                               
have an available similar alternative,  as only ACS offers an in-                                                               
state,    fully-accredited-instruction   correspondence    school                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2570                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CADIGAN  told the committee  that savings in  closing Alyeska                                                               
Central School Summer  School Program should be the  only item in                                                               
this bill,  as it is  the only  portion that can  actually reduce                                                               
the  foundation  fund expenditures.    He  said he  supports  the                                                               
objectives and  successes of  the summer  school program  for the                                                               
past 15 years,  but he recognizes the committee  must balance the                                                               
value of  that unique program  against the cost involved,  and as                                                               
such must be a subject of judgment by the committee.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. CADIGAN  spoke about the  economic impact this  closure would                                                               
cause.   Placing 44 persons  on the unemployment rolls  in Juneau                                                               
might  be  considered  a  wash  if  the  foundation  money  being                                                               
redirected would  create jobs in  other districts  within Alaska.                                                               
However, as  noted before, this is  not the case.   All districts                                                               
listed on  the web providing  distance education do so  by either                                                               
purchasing  service  by  ACS or  by  purchasing  from  homeschool                                                               
support companies or from correspondence  schools in the Lower 48                                                               
states.   As  a practical  matter, closing  Alyeska would  simply                                                               
move more state money out of state.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. CADIGAN provided a solution  to the dilemma by suggesting the                                                               
department combine  Alyeska Central  School with  Mount Edgecumbe                                                               
High School.  The advantage would  be that the state would have a                                                               
single  superintendent   who  oversees   both  districts.     The                                                               
department would actually save one-half  person in staff salaries                                                               
and benefits.   At the  same time, it  would save the  $5 million                                                               
that the  governor is trying to  do.  He told  the committee that                                                               
is his favorite option.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  asked if his  second favorite  option is as  good as                                                               
his first.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. CADIGAN replied that it is almost  as good as the first.  The                                                               
second favorite  option would be  to keep Alyeska  Central School                                                               
as  a separate  school  district and  remove it  organizationally                                                               
from the  [Department of Education and  Early Development](DEED).                                                               
It would do  the same thing - remove those  funds out of [DEED's]                                                               
budget -  and it  is better situation  for the  superintendent of                                                               
Mount Edgecumbe High School.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 2388                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LAURELL  CLOUGH  told  the  committee  that  she  is  a  lifelong                                                               
Alaskan,  is a  retired public  school teacher  of 24  years, and                                                               
currently has two sons taking  classes at Alyeska Central School.                                                               
She said  her family tried  the school  district's correspondence                                                               
school  first,  and  based  on   their  recommendation  and  poor                                                               
materials that she received, she  went to Alyeska Central School.                                                               
She told  the committee  that she  called all  11 schools  on the                                                               
list provided  that currently offer correspondence  education and                                                               
those  that plan  to  next year.    She found  that  none of  the                                                               
schools  will  take her  sons  because  she  wants to  keep  them                                                               
enrolled part-time  in their own  schools here in  Juneau because                                                               
she thinks [the combination] is the best education they can get.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. CLOUGH said the part-time issue  is important for both of her                                                               
boys,  who will  be in  high school  next year.   One  will be  a                                                               
junior and other one will be a  freshman.  The problem is that to                                                               
receive  part-time funding,  a  student can  only  enroll in  two                                                               
classes   at  a   regular  high   school  and   two  classes   in                                                               
correspondence.  At  that rate, it would take her  sons six years                                                               
to complete high  school, which she considers  unacceptable.  She                                                               
said she  is doing part-time  enrollment in public school  not by                                                               
choice, but  by necessity.   No parent chooses to  homeschool his                                                               
or her kids because it is easier.   It is much easier to put them                                                               
on  the  bus  and be  done  with  it.    She said  she  chose  to                                                               
homeschool  her kids  because they  were failing  in the  regular                                                               
system.   After 24 years as  a public school teacher,  she really                                                               
supports  public  schools.    She   told  the  committee  she  is                                                               
currently on  the site council  at Dzantik'i Heeni  Middle School                                                               
in  Juneau.   She  explained that  when her  son  was making  Ds,                                                               
hating  school, and  threatening suicide,  she realized  that she                                                               
had to look  at alternatives.  Alyeska Central  School was there.                                                               
Within a  month, he was  getting "A"s, he  was happy, and  he was                                                               
removed  part-time   from  what  was  a   very  stressful  social                                                               
situation.  He continues to be an  A student with ACS and is very                                                               
happy.  He would like to  continue this kind of education through                                                               
high school.   A  lot of kids  like to do  this because  they are                                                               
pursuing things that the schools cannot offer.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CLOUGH said  she had  her daughter  out of  school part-time                                                               
because  there were  no violin  lessons  during the  after-school                                                               
period that  she could  do.   There are  many reasons  why people                                                               
have  done  this, and  providing  nothing  that offers  part-time                                                               
education,  is a  disservice to  the  approximately 440  students                                                               
statewide.  She said other kids may  find it easier to go back to                                                               
their  own school.    Her oldest  son has  autism,  and has  been                                                               
homeschooled.   He came out of  school in January as  a desperate                                                               
measure.  He was  there one day and out the  next, because it was                                                               
such  a failure  for  him.   She told  the  committee they  tried                                                               
correspondence and  part-time.   He is  in high  school part-time                                                               
now, and is  making it in his  high school work and  ACS work for                                                               
about three  periods a day, which  is about all he  can handle at                                                               
Juneau-Douglas  High  School,  with  about 1,700  students  in  a                                                               
building that was  designed for about 1,300.  She  said she feels                                                               
she  is in  a place  where there  is no  place left  to send  her                                                               
children.  She  said she talked to wonderful people  who told her                                                               
that they could  not hope to do what ACS  does.  Accreditation is                                                               
an  issue also.   Five  of  these schools  are currently  seeking                                                               
accreditation; however,  it is  a process  that they  go through.                                                               
She pointed out that ACS is  currently accredited.  It is sort of                                                               
scary  to put  a  high school  kid's education  in  the hands  of                                                               
someone who  is seeking accreditation  that might be  denied when                                                               
that student is a senior, she told members.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2194                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CLOUGH  pointed out that  none of these schools  are mandated                                                               
by law to exist.   She said she could put her  kids with a school                                                               
and [the school]  may decide to fold its hand  and leave the next                                                               
year.   Then she would  be hunting again to  find a place  to put                                                               
her sons.  She said the  other schools are all clearinghouses for                                                               
a wide  variety of services.   Some of these are  great services,                                                               
but having  a teacher on  the other end  of the phone  and having                                                               
that  teacher know  and understand  what it  is like  to live  in                                                               
Alaska is  important.  She  said ACS's curriculum is  written for                                                               
Alaskans.   It uses images  that make  sense to the  students who                                                               
live  in  rural areas.    For  example,  there  is none  of  this                                                               
"football field lengths" for a kid  who has never seen a football                                                               
field.   Alyeska Central  School has years  in the  business, and                                                               
while these  other schools may be  good, she does not  think they                                                               
come close to ACS, and these schools will not take her children.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2145                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA asked  Ms. Clough  about the  summer program                                                               
and asked if any of her children utilize that program.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CLOUGH  responded  that  she has  used  the  summer  program                                                               
because it  took over one calendar  year to do an  algebra class.                                                               
Her son  just started  a geometry  class in  January, and  if her                                                               
family loses this program, she will  have to start a new textbook                                                               
and new system next year.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2105                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RICK  CURRIER, School  Counselor; English  and Elective  Teacher,                                                               
Alyeska Central School,  spoke on the proposed  changes to Alaska                                                               
Statute  14.07.   He  said  to the  committee  that ACS  delivers                                                               
courses, enrolls students all  year, graduates students, promotes                                                               
students, and is not broken.   As mentioned before, a majority of                                                               
its  funding comes  from  its enrolled  full-time  students.   If                                                               
those students  go into  Anchorage classrooms,  it will  cost the                                                               
state 20  percent more  in FTE  [full-time equivalent].   Alyeska                                                               
Central School  currently has students  in Barrow,  Lake Iliamna,                                                               
and  other  rural  areas.    If  these  students  go  into  rural                                                               
classrooms, how much  more is it going to cost  the state to fund                                                               
their education?   He told the  committee they get a  lot of bang                                                               
for the  buck at Alyeska  Central School.   The other  issue that                                                               
has been described  is that ACS is a duplicate  service.  He said                                                               
he hopes  every school  in the state  does duplicate  services by                                                               
presenting content that meets  educational standards and accesses                                                               
students  to  make  sure  they meet  those  standards.    Alyeska                                                               
Central School does that.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2046                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CURRIER  used an analogy  to retail stores, saying  that Wal-                                                               
Mart, Home  Depot and  Nordstrom all  have display  space, staff,                                                               
and  products  to  purchase;  everyone   knows  they  all  target                                                               
different clientele,  have different products, and  sell products                                                               
differently.   He told  the committee  Alyeska Central  School is                                                               
unique.  To his knowledge,  no other distance-learning program in                                                               
Alaska  has   the  faculty,  the  Alaska-directed,   and  Alaska-                                                               
generated curriculum that the staff  has written, and 60 years of                                                               
established infrastructure.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. CURRIER  told the  members that the  school is  expanding and                                                               
updating  the curriculum  constantly.   Right now,  19 of  the 29                                                               
courses that  the Alaska on-line consortiums  of school districts                                                               
has were written by ACS  teachers in partnership with the on-line                                                               
consortium.   He said the  school does  not have the  capacity to                                                               
provide elective  courses for  students.   He said  ACS purchases                                                               
courses from  places like North  Dakota, Division  of Independent                                                               
Study; the  University of  Nebraska; and  the American  School in                                                               
Chicago.   However, there is a  difference.  A majority  of those                                                               
classes  ACS  teaches  itself.     [The  program]  purchases  the                                                               
materials, but the teaching is done  here in Alaska.  Mr. Currier                                                               
said he asked a student the  other day how much response has been                                                               
received  from  teachers  in  Nebraska and  North  Dakota.    The                                                               
response  was  that the  student  never  got answers  from  those                                                               
teachers.   Time-difference  problems for  students is  an issue,                                                               
especially  for  students who  are  taking  classes from  schools                                                               
further east.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1910                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  CURRIER   summarized  his  comments   by  saying   that  the                                                               
curriculum and faculty  are the points that  make Alyeska Central                                                               
School unique.   He commented that  the summer school is  done at                                                               
the direction  of the legislature.   If the legislature  wants to                                                               
save  [$1.17] million,  he suggested  cutting summer  school, but                                                               
knowing that it is a  lifeline for over 3,400 students statewide.                                                               
He said  the summer school  is not run just  in the summer.   For                                                               
instance, graduating seniors  may start a class  in March because                                                               
they are  a half credit  short.  He  told the committee  he often                                                               
gets calls from  parents and counselors asking if  it is possible                                                               
to get  a student into  a course  right away because  the student                                                               
wants to graduate in June.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1853                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JEANNE  FOY,   Alyeska  Central  School   Education  Association,                                                               
testified  in opposition  to HB  174.   She said  that she  is an                                                               
English  teacher   at  Alyeska  Central  School   (ACS)  and  was                                                               
surprised at the governor's proposal  to close the school because                                                               
she  thought parental  choice was  one of  the key  components of                                                               
educational  reform.   She  told  members ACS  has  a long  track                                                               
record of  being committed to providing  high-quality courses and                                                               
instruction  to  students  in  a  variety  of  situations.    The                                                               
[federal] No  Child Left Behind  Act requires that  students have                                                               
highly qualified  teachers.   She said  ACS already  has teachers                                                               
certified in  the specific  subject areas  and grade  levels they                                                               
teach.  Families want teachers in  Alaska who can be reached by a                                                               
toll-free  phone number  or e-mail.   Students  who take  courses                                                               
from out-of-state  correspondence programs often  have difficulty                                                               
reaching those teachers.   Parents also want to  talk to teachers                                                               
who  know  the  courses  their  children  are  taking.    Parents                                                               
appreciate the  analysis ACS teachers provide  of their students'                                                               
work.    They want  an  accredited  program  to ensure  that  the                                                               
classes students take  with ACS are on par  with classes students                                                               
take at  a regular  or brick-and-mortar  school.   Parents choose                                                               
ACS because they recognize the value of what is offered.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1755                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  FOY  said  that  on  Tuesday, Eddy  Jeans  said  that  other                                                               
statewide programs  have called the department  stating that they                                                               
could develop and offer a similar  program to ACS's.  The ability                                                               
and  expertise to  develop  and  teach distance-delivery  courses                                                               
cannot   be  developed   quickly.     It  requires   a  long-term                                                               
commitment.   Right now, state  law mandates that  the Department                                                               
of  Education  and  Early   Childhood  Development  operate  this                                                               
school.  That means that  this alternative method of delivering a                                                               
public  school education  will always  be available  to students,                                                               
available, that is, as long as the  law is not changed.  The list                                                               
of  districts offering  statewide  programs for  the next  school                                                               
year is not  the same as this year's list.   Districts can choose                                                               
to discontinue to offer statewide programs at any time.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. FOY  told the  committee one good  thing about  this proposed                                                               
closure is that  ACS has been inundated with  calls, letters, and                                                               
e-mails  from past  students  and families,  as  well as  current                                                               
families expressing  how much  they value the  school.   That has                                                               
been  encouraging.   These  families also  ask  why the  governor                                                               
wants to  remove this educational  choice from  Alaskan families.                                                               
To that question, she said she does  not have an answer.  Ms. Foy                                                               
provided  the  committee  with  samples  of  assessments  of  the                                                               
students' work.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1657                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  I.  JEFFERY,  Presiding Judge,  Alaska  Superior  Court,                                                               
Testified  via teleconference  as a  parent in  opposition to  HB                                                               
174.   He told  the committee  he was testifying  as a  parent of                                                               
children  enrolled in  Alyeska Central  School.   He said  he has                                                               
been listening to testimony on ACS  and could not agree more with                                                               
what has  been said.   About  five years  ago his  family started                                                               
using ACS for  his daughter, who is now graduating  from ACS this                                                               
year.  While  his family has opted  for a course or  two in local                                                               
schools, the  heavy academics have been  done through ACS.   In a                                                               
rural location,  the teachers  are doing the  best job  they can,                                                               
but the fact is that ACS  has a terrific track record with scores                                                               
on  tests and  admissions to  colleges,  and his  family has  the                                                               
assurance that their children are  getting the level of education                                                               
that anyone is getting in any city anywhere in the country.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JUDGE  JEFFERY noted  that  ACS  kids are  going  on to  Stanford                                                               
[University] and  other top universities.   He said he  has three                                                               
students in  ACS right now,  and his oldest daughter  is applying                                                               
to colleges.   One thing  that he has  been very grateful  for is                                                               
that ACS has this great track  record.  He commented that ACS has                                                               
been  there since  1939.   College admissions  offices know  this                                                               
program, and  know that  teachers are there  that the  student is                                                               
relating  to.    This  is  not just  a  "cafeteria"  of  Internet                                                               
courses.   Judge Jeffery  said considering  the fine  record that                                                               
his daughter has built up, ACS  has a quality program.  Sometimes                                                               
classes will be  listed in ACS's catalog and  will refer students                                                               
to other  schools.   In these  cases, [his  family] has  not been                                                               
happy  with the  courses from  these  more distant  places.   The                                                               
classes just do not seem to be set  up as well.  [His family] has                                                               
a  lot  of   interchange  with  the  teachers.     Judge  Jeffery                                                               
summarized his  comments by saying  it is a quality  program that                                                               
he hopes will continue for a very long time.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1436                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RICH KRONBERG,  President, NEA-Alaska,  told the committee  it is                                                               
much  easier  to  maintain  than  to  replace  a  program.    The                                                               
committee has heard  that ACS has a proven track  record, but the                                                               
same  cannot be  said  of any  of the  other  schools that  offer                                                               
correspondence or homeschool  support in this state.   He pointed                                                               
out that the monetary savings are  doubtful at best.  With the No                                                               
Child  Left  Behind  Act,  parents  and  students  need  to  have                                                               
choices.  He said ACS is  certainly a preferable choice.  He told                                                               
the  committee there  will soon  be many  tests available  to the                                                               
state for which  the students' test results are going  to be very                                                               
public.    The  difference  is  that the  data  is  going  to  be                                                               
disaggregated.  Until  the state knows what the data  is going to                                                               
look like,  the state  cannot say with  any certainty  that these                                                               
other schools with  supposedly equivalent correspondence programs                                                               
are the equal of Alyeska Central School.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. KRONBERG offered a suggestion  to the committee that a better                                                               
way  to deal  with this  issue  is to  phase  in or  allow for  a                                                               
transition period.   If it turns out that this  is a program that                                                               
is superior  to others, there  are minimal cost savings,  if any,                                                               
and parental choice does mean  something; the state will not have                                                               
to start  all over again.   Mr.  Kronberg said the  startup costs                                                               
will be big  and it will be a waste  of precious state resources.                                                               
It is much  better to keep the  program in place, and  build in a                                                               
transition  period so  that  if, in  fact, it  is  not doing  the                                                               
things the  legislature needs it to  do, it can be  eliminated or                                                               
cut back, but  right now the legislature does not  know that.  In                                                               
fact,  there is  overwhelming  testimony that  ACS  is doing  the                                                               
right thing  and it  is doing  it better than  other places.   He                                                               
reiterated  his   suggestion  that  the  committee   build  in  a                                                               
transition period  and not  lose this  quality program  until the                                                               
members are sure there is something that can replace it.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1246                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ALEXANDER  DOLITSKY,  Ph.D.,   Social  Studies  Teacher,  Alyeska                                                               
Central  School, offered  a brief  statement about  HB 174.   The                                                               
format of Alyeska Central School  is exactly what the legislature                                                               
and the state  wants to see in statewide education.   He said ACS                                                               
does  not   have  a  physical  district   like  other  districts.                                                               
Students come to ACS for a  certain purpose or for the quality of                                                               
education.  The  teachers and administrators of ACS  are on their                                                               
toes every  day or the  school loses  students.  If  students and                                                               
parents are  not satisfied  with ACS's program,  it would  not be                                                               
necessary to have HB 174; it  would end by itself because of lack                                                               
of  enrollment.    He  said  ACS  does  not  give  students  free                                                               
computers or  $1,000 for their  supplies.  He told  the committee                                                               
that parents  have heard  about the quality  of the  ACS program.                                                               
He told  the committee when  he hears the term  "duplication," he                                                               
knows  it is  not a  relevant term  because as  educators all  52                                                               
school  districts in  Alaska duplicate  each other.   They  teach                                                               
students  to read,  write, and  do math.   The  hospitals in  the                                                               
world duplicate  each other by  treating patients.   He suggested                                                               
that this  is not a  relevant term.  It  is not properly  used in                                                               
ACS's case.   In fact, ACS  is open year-round, which  is a great                                                               
difference from  other schools, not only  correspondence schools.                                                               
Furthermore, ACS enrolls  students in the middle  of the academic                                                               
year.  It  provides academic, and student  services, and programs                                                               
like Close Up, the Academic Decathlon, and other programs.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1079                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. DOLITSKY said  the summer school is a separate  entity from a                                                               
traditional school.   The legislature  asked ACS to  perform this                                                               
service.  He  told the committee he has been  with the school for                                                               
15 years;  he started as  a summer  school teacher.   He recalled                                                               
that under  the Hickel Administration  the summer  school program                                                               
was closed to  save money.  Then it was  reinstated the next year                                                               
and  grew to  the level  that  it currently  holds.   To cut  the                                                               
summer school  does not  require this  bill; the  legislature can                                                               
just cut the  funds to operate the summer school.   Please do not                                                               
confuse  the  traditional  program  with the  summer  school,  he                                                               
asked.    The traditional  program  costs  20 percent  less  than                                                               
conventional  education  and  will  cost as  much  as  any  other                                                               
correspondence  school,  but there  is  no  guarantee that  1,100                                                               
students  enrolled in  ACS will  go to  a correspondence  school.                                                               
The committee  has heard that  ACS is  what the parents  want; if                                                               
these families cannot  have ACS, the students may go  back to the                                                               
traditional schools where  they live, and it can  cost $28,000 to                                                               
educate a child  in Barrow or other rural schools,  or $15,000 to                                                               
educate a child  at Mount Edgecumbe.  He noted  that ACS has over                                                               
50 students that live in are rural areas.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
DR. DOLITSKY summarized  his comments by saying  that, first, ACS                                                               
is not  a duplicative institution  and, second, there will  be no                                                               
budgetary savings in eliminating ACS.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0912                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JON  PADEN, Counselor,  Alyeska  Central School;  Representative,                                                               
Alyeska Central  School Association,  testified in  opposition to                                                               
HB 174.   He told the  committee, first, ACS funding  follows the                                                               
kids wherever the students go.   Second, the [$1.17] million from                                                               
summer  school is  really for  kids in  the districts  around the                                                               
state,  not really  the  kids in  ACS, and  only  as a  secondary                                                               
benefit to them.   Third, what makes ACS unique  has been said by                                                               
other people,  but to summarize  the thought, it is  a year-round                                                               
school.  A  student's semester begins when  that student receives                                                               
textbooks and materials,  and the semester ends  for that student                                                               
when four  to six  months have  passed.   He emphasized  that ACS                                                               
offers Alaskan-teacher-mediated and  developed instruction, and a                                                               
parent advisory council  that takes in parents from  all over the                                                               
state.    He  said  the   department  testified  the  day  before                                                               
yesterday that  district are willing to  develop similar programs                                                               
and  said his  take  on that  is  that there  are  folks who  are                                                               
willing to  duplicate in the future  what at present they  do not                                                               
have.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0710                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VICTORIA MARTIN told the committee  she is a homeschoolteacher to                                                               
two students.   There are six  courses that ACS has  developed in                                                               
Alaska  history and  Alaska science.   She  said she  has success                                                               
stories with  her students that  were falling through  the cracks                                                               
at  Anchorage public  schools.   Yesterday her  granddaughter was                                                               
asked by the  committee what options were available to  her.  Ms.                                                               
Martin  told the  committee she  called and  found that  Iditarod                                                               
School  District has  correspondence courses  available; however,                                                               
there is  only one English  teacher, one elementary  teacher, one                                                               
special  education teacher,  one office  person, and  four people                                                               
who work  there.   CyberLynk has  not returned  her call.   Raven                                                               
Correspondence  is  district-only.   PACE  [Personal  Alternative                                                               
Choices in Education], which is  part of Craig City Schools, does                                                               
not offer  dual enrollment, and  students get "school in  a box."                                                               
The parent  does all  the work without  support, whereas  ACS has                                                               
teachers  available  to help  parents  and  students.   The  IDEA                                                               
[Interior  Distance  Education  of Alaska]  program  has  parents                                                               
grading the work, and there  is one correspondence school through                                                               
Delta Junction that is not adequate.   Ms. Martin said one of her                                                               
students has  taken driver's education through  North Dakota, and                                                               
there was no way to call to  ask questions.  She pointed out that                                                               
ACS offers many other programs  including a Lego robotic team and                                                               
academic  decathlon.   She said  she has  a gifted  youngster who                                                               
went to  the gifted  programs here and  fell through  the cracks.                                                               
He  was deliberately  getting  bad grades  because  he was  being                                                               
bullied because  he is bright.   She  said he is  now an A  and B                                                               
student.  He  is becoming well adjusted.  Ms.  Martin said ACS is                                                               
a great program  and asked the committee to  please not eliminate                                                               
it.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0456                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO told the committee he  has a number of questions from                                                               
the  department.     Specifically,  if  the   money  follows  the                                                               
students, aside  from the  summer school, is  there some  way the                                                               
state realizes a large savings if  it is paying out the money for                                                               
the students anyway.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0431                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON   said  if  the  state   is  funding  this                                                               
correspondence study  at 80  percent, and if  even 20  percent of                                                               
these students go into regular  public schools in rural areas, it                                                               
does not save money, other than  the summer school.  Where is the                                                               
savings in this bill?                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0389                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  responded that Representative  Seaton is  correct that                                                               
if the students go back  and enroll in their community's schools,                                                               
they are going to be funded  at a higher level.  [The department]                                                               
has  not crafted  the  actual savings  in the  long  term as  the                                                               
result  of  closing  Alyeska  Central   Schools.    He  told  the                                                               
committee he would produce that  information for the committee so                                                               
everyone can  see the  long-term savings.   Right now  the fiscal                                                               
note only shows  a savings from the closure of  the summer school                                                               
program.   However, [the department]  does believe there  will be                                                               
other savings with facility leases.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON replied  that he  would like  to see  that                                                               
information before going forward.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0287                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GARA  commented that  there are  two parts  to the                                                               
bill.  One is getting rid  of the Alyeska Central School, and the                                                               
second, is getting rid of the  summer school.  Closing the summer                                                               
school is the only  part that saves the state money.   He said it                                                               
is  likely that  a  number  of the  students  who  leave ACS  who                                                               
currently receive 80 percent funding  will then enroll in schools                                                               
where  they will  receive 100  percent  funding.   Some of  those                                                               
students  go to  schools  that  have a  high  ADM [average  daily                                                               
membership], for example, in Goodnews  Bay, where it will be even                                                               
more expensive to fund their education.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0199                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS  restated  that  if those  students  enroll  in  their                                                               
community's school,  there will be  an increased cost  to educate                                                               
those students.  The department has been very clear about that.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  suggested that  the likelihood of  a student  at ACS                                                               
going back  to the public  school instead of into  an alternative                                                               
program is low.  He said  he thinks students that are involved in                                                               
these programs are  there because they are  successful, enjoy it,                                                               
and  would  probably  get  first   crack  at  one  of  the  other                                                               
correspondence schools.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GARA  commented  that  he  disagrees  with  Chair                                                               
Gatto's  point.   He  asked Mr.  Jeans to  give  the committee  a                                                               
comparative dollar  cost of sending  one child to ACS  versus one                                                               
of the  more expensive  schools in  the Bush.   He said  he would                                                               
like  to have  a comparative  number  so that  the committee  can                                                               
consider what it would  cost to have a child leave  ACS and go to                                                               
the foundation formula.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0046                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS  replied  that  the  allocation  to  a  correspondence                                                               
program,   whether   Alyeska   Central  School   or   any   other                                                               
correspondence  program  is  80   percent  of  the  base  student                                                               
allocation, which equals about $3,800.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-12, SIDE A                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS said the  cost to operate a rural school  with 20 to 25                                                               
kids  is  a  cost  of  $15,000 per  student.    He  reminded  the                                                               
committee that  the department has  heard from teachers  that ACS                                                               
has about  45 to  50 students  living in  rural areas.   However,                                                               
many  of  the  students  that   ACS  is  serving  live  right  in                                                               
Anchorage,  Juneau,   and  other   larger  communities,   so  the                                                               
comparison of $3,800  to $15,000 is the extreme, and  not many of                                                               
ACS's students fall into that category.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0104                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOYCE JONES  testified via teleconference that  she currently has                                                               
eight students enrolled  in the ACS correspondence  program.  She                                                               
told  the  committee  that  it  is an  option  to  go  through  a                                                               
correspondence program in the local  district; however, she tried                                                               
that  but  it   did  not  work  out  because   the  district  was                                                               
overwhelmed with  the number of  students already enrolled.   She                                                               
told the  committee she used  to live in  Kodiak and had  her two                                                               
boys enrolled in Kodiak public schools.   The school was just too                                                               
overcrowded and  she did not  approve of the education  they were                                                               
receiving.  Ms.  Jones said her family moved back  to Karluk, her                                                               
hometown,  where they  thought about  getting their  school open,                                                               
but it  is a very small  community.  This year  the community was                                                               
not able to  get the department to open Karluk  School because of                                                               
the low head count.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. JONES  told the committee that  the ACS program is  very well                                                               
laid out.  The older students  that are in sixth and ninth grades                                                               
are  pretty  independent.    Day-to-day  classes  and  day-to-day                                                               
lesson plans  are provided.   Her students  started a  month late                                                               
and the  kids are doing  very well in  the program and  are right                                                               
were they  should be even,  though they  started late.   The kids                                                               
have contact with  their own teachers, there  is quick turnaround                                                               
on the work that is being sent  in, and the kids are getting good                                                               
grades.    Ms.  Jones  told   the  committee  education  is  very                                                               
important in the small rural areas.   She asked, if this is taken                                                               
away, what her family will do.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0389                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SHEILA SYMONS  testified via teleconference  in opposition  to HB                                                               
174.   She  told  the committee  she lives  in  Central, a  rural                                                               
community,  and homeschools  three  of her  four  children.   Her                                                               
husband graduated  from ACS  and she  has been  homeschooling for                                                               
eight years.  She told the  committee ACS is not a duplication of                                                               
services.    The  teachers  are  fantastic.    They  support  the                                                               
parents, know  the courses,  and always have  the answers.   They                                                               
have helped  her be a  better teacher by offering  suggestions in                                                               
presenting  material  in a  different  way  if something  is  not                                                               
getting through.   They speak  to her  kids and have  great bond.                                                               
Ms. Symons told the committee  they have a different schedule and                                                               
frequently do  not start school  until November, but it  does not                                                               
matter if  the school year does  not end until August.   She told                                                               
the committee  there is no  Internet access where she  lives, but                                                               
ACS  offers   an  excellent  library  service   and  a  fantastic                                                               
education to her children.  For  those who are getting started in                                                               
homeschooling, ACS  gives a  daily lesson plan,  and that  is not                                                               
available from other programs.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO commended  Ms. Symons on her many years  of work as a                                                               
professional homeschooler.   He  wanted her to  know that  he and                                                               
the  other  members of  the  committee  appreciate and  recognize                                                               
those who are willing and capable of homeschooling.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0697                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JESSIE GIYER testified via teleconference  and told the committee                                                               
that she  and her  husband have been  teaching their  son through                                                               
ACS for six years  now.  She said ACS is  the best option because                                                               
it  provides  a  wide  variety  courses,  and  a  high  level  of                                                               
education, and  is there to assist  the parents.  If  the teacher                                                               
is unavailable, they leave voice mail  and ACS gets right back to                                                               
them.   She said they  live in Palmer  and are in  the Matanuska-                                                               
Susitna School  District, and  while the  Matanuska-Susitna study                                                               
program is available to them, they  feel ACS is the better of the                                                               
two programs.  She summarized her  comments by saying it would be                                                               
a shame to lose this program.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO  thanked everyone who  has waited so long  to testify                                                               
on HB 174.  He announced  that even though the committee allotted                                                               
the  entire  time  for  testimony,  not  everyone  will  have  an                                                               
opportunity to speak.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 0873                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
NANCY  RICHAR testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB                                                               
174.   She  told the  committee that  her son  attended ACS  from                                                               
Kindergarten through  12th grade  and graduated in  January, when                                                               
he entered  the University of  Alaska Southeast (UAS),  School of                                                               
Fisheries, on five  scholarships.  She expressed  concern for the                                                               
students  who will  not graduate  until July  or September.   She                                                               
asked  what  will happen  to  them.    Ms.  Richar said  ACS  has                                                               
survived  and  thrived since  1939  because  they have  a  unique                                                               
background,  skill,  and knowledge  to  adapt  to each  student's                                                               
individual needs.   The program has given the  students the tools                                                               
and skills to  succeed in college.  The teachers  write their own                                                               
courses supplemented by textbooks  because there are no textbooks                                                               
written  for  math, especially  for  correspondence.   They  have                                                               
received awards for the courses they  have written.  She told the                                                               
committee  her son  was very  interested in  marine life  and the                                                               
teachers  wrote  a course  of  study  for him  from  Kindergarten                                                               
through  6th grade.   One  course  became a  permanent course  of                                                               
study.   Ms. Richar told the  committee that this past  summer he                                                               
was  admitted  into  the UAF  [University  of  Alaska  Fairbanks]                                                               
Honors Institute,  where he  completed a  full semester  of three                                                               
regular courses  in six weeks,  and earned eight  college credits                                                               
with  a 3.25  GPA [grade  point average].   She  said he  learned                                                               
these skills  at ACS.   He is  currently a straight-A  student at                                                               
UAS and has been allowed to  take a postgraduate course in marine                                                               
research as  a freshman.  She  summarized by saying that  her son                                                               
is  not unusual.    There  are many  students  who  are doing  an                                                               
outstanding job and earning honors.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GATTO announced  that he  will  be holding  the bill  over                                                               
until  more  information  is  provided  from  the  Department  of                                                               
Education and Early Development.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
Number 1194                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee on  Education  meeting was  adjourned at  1:03                                                               
p.m.                                                                                                                            

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