Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/11/2003 11:00 AM EDU

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 174- CORRESPONDENCE STUDY                                                                                                  
CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  next 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 0727                                                                                                                     
EDDY  JEANS,  Manager,  School Finance  and  Facilities  Section,                                                               
Education  Support Services,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development,  testified  in support  of  HB  174.   He  told  the                                                               
committee Alyeska Central School (ACS)  was once the state's only                                                               
correspondence program offering  educational services to students                                                               
statewide.    The  school  began   operation  in  1939,  offering                                                               
programs to students who lived in  remote areas of the state with                                                               
no local schools.                                                                                                               
MR. JEANS explained that currently  there are 12 school districts                                                               
offering statewide  correspondence programs to Alaska  school age                                                               
residents.     The  district-operated   statewide  correspondence                                                               
programs  have been  in operation  since  approximately 1997  and                                                               
offer  a  variety of  operational  delivery  methods.   Education                                                               
delivery  models  include  U.S.  Postal  Service,  Internet,  and                                                               
family-developed  programs  with  support  from  district  staff.                                                               
Eliminating ACS will be  eliminating duplicate services currently                                                               
being  offered  by  school  districts  enrolling  students  on  a                                                               
statewide basis.                                                                                                                
Number 0662                                                                                                                     
MR.  JEANS  told the  committee  the  department has  two  fiscal                                                               
notes.  Fiscal note 1  eliminates the ACS budget component within                                                               
the Department  of Education  and Early  Development and  shows a                                                               
reduction  of $5.5  million.    The second  fiscal  note shows  a                                                               
reduction in  the foundation-funding program of  $1.17 million or                                                               
almost  $1.2  million.   This  reflects  the elimination  of  the                                                               
summer school funding that ACS currently enjoys.                                                                                
Number 0555                                                                                                                     
MR. JEANS told  the committee the reason for two  fiscal notes is                                                               
that  in  this   proposal  ACS  will  no  longer   exist  in  the                                                               
department's budget,  so it  is necessary  to remove  that budget                                                               
MR. JEANS addressed the second  piece to this, which is allocated                                                               
through the  foundation-funding program.  He  said the department                                                               
believes  the  students  who are  currently  served  through  the                                                               
Alyeska  Central School  will be  served through  other statewide                                                               
education programs,  so the only  real savings in  the foundation                                                               
program is that money which  is associated with the summer school                                                               
program.   Currently, Alyeska Central  School is the  only school                                                               
that is  eligible to  claim summer school  funding.   That summer                                                               
school  funding  represents  about   [$1.17  million].    Of  the                                                               
approximately 1,200  students that the  state funds ACS  for, 835                                                               
of those are enrolled in its regular program.                                                                                   
Number 0436                                                                                                                     
MR. JEANS  told the committee  the department has  been contacted                                                               
by other  statewide correspondence  programs that  have indicated                                                               
that if  their schools  are not providing  what ACS  is currently                                                               
providing, they  would be prepared  to develop such  programs and                                                               
offer those services  to the students currently  enrolled in ACS.                                                               
The  department will  work with  those  families [whose  children                                                               
attend ACS] to identify programs that will fit their needs.                                                                     
MR.  JEANS reviewed  the bill  by section.   Section  1 under  AS                                                               
14.07.020(a)(9) eliminates language that  the department offers a                                                               
statewide   correspondence  program.      Section   2  under   AS                                                               
14.14.090(2) amends the  duties of a school board  and allows for                                                               
school   districts   to   enroll    students   in   a   statewide                                                               
correspondence  program.     Section  3  under   AS  14.14.120(c)                                                               
requires  an  inoperative  school  district, in  other  words,  a                                                               
school district  that is getting  ready to close, to  provide the                                                               
families  with information  on correspondence  programs available                                                               
to  them throughout  the state.    Section 4  under AS  14.17.300                                                               
removes the  word ["centralized"] from  the funding account.   In                                                               
this section  of statute,  central correspondence  study referred                                                               
to the  state-run program, so  by eliminating  ["centralized"] it                                                               
just  refers to  correspondence  programs.   Section  5 under  AS                                                               
14.17.400(b)  removes the  word  ["centralized"]  and leaves  the                                                               
language open to all correspondence programs.                                                                                   
MR. JEANS  stated that Section 6  is an important change  that he                                                               
wants to bring to the committee's attention.  It read:                                                                          
     Sec.  14.17.430.   State  funding   for  correspondence                                                                  
     study and  similar programs.   Except   as  provided in                                                                
     AS  14.17.400(b), funding  for  [THE STATE  CENTRALIZED                                                                    
     CORRESPONDENCE   STUDY    PROGRAM   OR]    a   district                                                                    
     correspondence  program,  including   a  district  that                                                                    
     offers a  statewide correspondence study program,  or a                                                                
     study program  that occurs  primarily outside  a school                                                                
     facility,  includes  an   allocation  from  the  public                                                                
     school account in an   amount calculated by multiplying                                                                    
     the ADM  of the correspondence  or study program  by 80                                                                
MR.  JEANS  told  the  committee  this section  says  that  if  a                                                               
correspondence study  program in the  district or on  a statewide                                                               
level or if it  is a similar type of program,  that would mean it                                                               
is through [the  state's] charter school legislation.   The state                                                               
does  have charter  schools  that  provide educational  programs,                                                               
mainly   in  the   home.     In   other  words,   state-supported                                                               
homeschooling will  be funded  at 80  percent.   He said  this is                                                               
very important because  the state does have  some charter schools                                                               
that offer that type of program,  and nowhere in the statute does                                                               
the law specify what their funding  level will be.  This language                                                               
brings clarity to that issue.                                                                                                   
Number 0067                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO asked if the funding has always been 80 percent.                                                                    
MR. JEANS responded  that it has been 80 percent  all along.  The                                                               
department's regulatory process  has defined correspondence study                                                               
programs to  include those  programs that  are offered  by school                                                               
districts  that provide  support for  home-based programs.   What                                                               
this does is develop clarity in the statute.                                                                                    
TAPE 03-10, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked Mr.  Jeans about a clear distinction                                                               
between charter schools and correspondence schools.                                                                             
MR. JEANS  told the committee one  example of this is  the Family                                                               
Partnership Charter  School ("Family Partnership")  in Anchorage.                                                               
It is  operated as  a charter school  under the  Anchorage School                                                               
District.    It is  a  home-based  educational program.    Family                                                               
Partnership  will  tell   the  legislature  that  it   is  not  a                                                               
correspondence  program, but  a  home-support program.   What  it                                                               
does  not have  that community  schools  has is  a facility,  the                                                               
staff,  and  operational  and  maintenance  costs  to  operate  a                                                               
facility.  So under the foundation  program there are two sets of                                                               
funding:  that set of funding  that is provided for the operation                                                               
of   a  facility   to   staff,  maintain,   and   heat  it,   and                                                               
correspondence funding, which is for  all those programs that are                                                               
not housed in a facility.   What this amendment does is make that                                                               
very  clear.   There  are two  different  adjustments within  the                                                               
foundation formula.                                                                                                             
Number 0151                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO  said that last  year the  Mat-Su [Matanuska-Susitna]                                                               
school  board  received  an   application  from  Horizon  Charter                                                               
School, which identified  itself as a group  of homeschoolers who                                                               
wanted to  be included in  this new charter  school.  He  said he                                                               
believed the board  approved its application after a  year, or in                                                               
the normal timeframe.                                                                                                           
MR. JEANS  said the Horizon Charter  School is on the  agenda for                                                               
the  state  board of  education's  meeting  next week  for  state                                                               
approval.  Clarity in this area is very important.                                                                              
MR.  JEANS  said under  Section  7,  AS 14.17.600(a)  amends  the                                                               
foundation account statute, which  repeals the section that deals                                                               
with ACS,  including the  provision that  allows that  program to                                                               
count   summer   school   students.     Under   Section   8,   AS                                                               
14.30.010(b)(10)   amends  the   compulsory   education  law   to                                                               
eliminate ACS and simply refers to  a child that is enrolled in a                                                               
state  correspondence  study  program.     Under  Section  9,  AS                                                               
14.30.350(8)  eliminates  the  reference  to the  ACS  under  the                                                               
definition   of  school   district.     Under   Section  10,   AS                                                               
39.25.110(7)  removes  ACS  teachers  from this  statute.    This                                                               
provision  currently exempts  teachers from  the personnel  rules                                                               
that apply for people that  are employed as classified employees.                                                               
This  is   a  cleanup  in   statutes.    Under  Section   11,  AS                                                               
39.25.160(e)(7)  removes  the  reference  to  the  Department  of                                                               
Education and  Early Development  correspondence teachers.   This                                                               
statute prohibits  these individuals  from being in  a management                                                               
position of a  political party.  It is statutory  cleanup.  Under                                                               
Section 12 is the effective date.                                                                                               
Number 0359                                                                                                                     
DEANNA PATZ  testified in  opposition to HB  174.   She addressed                                                               
Representative   Kapsner's    comment   about    homeschool   and                                                               
correspondence  school  and  said  there is  a  large  difference                                                               
between the two.   A lot of families  homeschool without district                                                               
input.  She  said she would like to reread  an item from Governor                                                               
Murkowski's  letter that  was  read  by Mr.  Jeans.    In it  the                                                               
governor  says:     "However,  there  are   12  school  districts                                                               
currently offering statewide  correspondence services to Alaska's                                                               
school age  residents."   Ms. Patz  said in  reality those  12 or                                                               
more districts  are not  correspondence schools  in the  same way                                                               
that ACS  is.  They do  not provide schoolteachers.   They do not                                                               
provide  their own  curriculum.   They provide  money.   In large                                                               
areas  like  Anchorage,  Fairbanks,   and  Juneau,  they  provide                                                               
support groups.                                                                                                                 
Number 0557                                                                                                                     
MS. PATZ  told the committee  that ACS is  unique.  She  told the                                                               
committee  that  she has  used  ACS  for  17  years and  has  six                                                               
children who have been successful  with this program.  The school                                                               
provides  individual care  and  consideration  for the  students'                                                               
needs  and teachers  who  are  there.   They  provide a  library,                                                               
supplies,  and curriculum.    Other schools  such  as Nenana  and                                                               
Galena only provide  funding; they are not duplicates.   She told                                                               
the committee she  is very opposed to having it  eliminated.  She                                                               
said ACS fulfilled all of the needs her family had.                                                                             
CHAIR  GATTO announce  that  there would  be  another meeting  on                                                               
Thursday and  he will  make a  special effort  to hear  those who                                                               
have been waiting to testify today.                                                                                             
Number 0728                                                                                                                     
HAYLIE  RUDDELL testified  via teleconference  from Anchorage  in                                                               
opposition to HB 174.  She told  the committee she is a junior at                                                               
ACS  and  found   the  ability  to  totally   focus  on  studying                                                               
important.  She said in  public schools students are subjected to                                                               
peer pressure and  violence.  Ms. Ruddell pointed  out that there                                                               
was  just  a shooting  at  East  High  School [in  Anchorage]  on                                                               
Friday.  She said ACS has  allowed her to focus on her education.                                                               
She said she just participated  in the academic decathlon and her                                                               
team placed  10th overall out of  30 schools.  She  said her team                                                               
only had  two months  to study  for it, and  one student  was the                                                               
second highest  scorer in the decathlon.   The fact that  ACS had                                                               
two months  preparation time when  all the other schools  had six                                                               
months, and that  they were able to do so  well, really shows how                                                               
successful ACS  is, she suggested.   She  said it would  be awful                                                               
for this to be eliminated, especially in rural areas.                                                                           
Number 0915                                                                                                                     
CHAIR GATTO asked  if this program disappeared, what  she and her                                                               
brother would do.                                                                                                               
MS. RIDDELL said she does not know.   They would have to look for                                                               
another program.                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTO asked if she has looked at other schools.                                                                           
MS. RIDDELL said  she looked at taking a course  at University of                                                               
Alaska Anchorage (UAA)  or possibly going back  to public school,                                                               
such   as  West   High,  and   is  still   looking  for   another                                                               
correspondence program.   The  other correspondence  programs are                                                               
not like ACS, which has been far better than she ever imagined.                                                                 
Number 1085                                                                                                                     
JOHN  PADEN, Counselor,  Alyeska Central  School; Representative,                                                               
Alyeska Central  School Association,  testified in  opposition to                                                               
HB 174.  He told the  committee there is a big difference between                                                               
ACS  and other  distance programs  available  in the  state.   He                                                               
shared an  experience he recently  encountered when a  family had                                                               
to move from Southeast Alaska to  the Interior of Alaska, and the                                                               
problem  facing their  child was  that there  still was  a little                                                               
more schooling  to be  done for  that school  year.   The parents                                                               
wanted to  know if ACS could  help.  The answer  was yes, because                                                               
at this time of  year the program is able to take  in kids.  That                                                               
child's  semester began  when the  child received  the materials,                                                               
and the schooling  can be completed, even though it  will go into                                                               
the summer.  This particular  student will finish her high school                                                               
career in  mid-July and  be able  to continue  on with  her plans                                                               
without having  to wait another  half a  school year in  order to                                                               
finish up.                                                                                                                      
MR. PADEN shared  another example of a parent  from rural Western                                                               
Alaska, who  called because  his daughter was  ill, and  had been                                                               
ill quite a bit in the past year  and missed a lot of school.  He                                                               
wanted to know  if it would be possible for  his daughter to come                                                               
into  ACS in  February and  finish  her eighth-grade  year.   The                                                               
answer is  yes.  She can  finish up by  August and be able  to go                                                               
back to  her local  school if  that is  what the  father chooses.                                                               
She would not have lost a full  year.  He told the committee that                                                               
he  gets  calls daily,  not  just  during open  enrollment,  from                                                               
parents who want to school  their children, and this program does                                                               
exactly  that.   It  is  not  relegated to  the  September-to-May                                                               
period of time.                                                                                                                 
Number 1313                                                                                                                     
MR. PADEN said  two days ago a father called  from Western Alaska                                                               
asking  about  his eighth-grade  daughter.    In this  case,  the                                                               
answer was  no, ACS  could not take  his child in.   He  said the                                                               
question is  where these  kids are going  to go,  especially with                                                               
the question of No Child Left Behind.  [HB 174 was held over.]                                                                  

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