Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/08/1994 03:00 PM House HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HJR 47 - FUNDS TO UPGRADE MILITARY BASE SCHOOLS                              
  Number 641                                                                   
  DUANE GUILEY, Director, Division of School Finance,                          
  Department of Education, testified in support of HJR 47.  He                 
  felt the resolution continued to bring to the forefront the                  
  problems associated with transferring on-base schools and                    
  the costs involved.  However, he did state that the                          
  Department of Education (DOE) did not support HB 359 in that                 
  the bill calls for a direct appropriation of 50% of state                    
  share matched with 50% federal share for projects that have                  
  not been evaluated or ranked in the school construction                      
  priority process.  He said the highest priority project for                  
  on-base schools is a replacement facility for Taylor and                     
  Pennell Elementary Schools on Eielson Air Force Base.  The                   
  school district has applied for the transfer and received                    
  $600,000 last year for a planning grant.  A capital project                  
  construction grant has been applied for by the school                        
  district this year.  Mr. Guiley said the school has been                     
  evaluated and ranked, on a relative basis compared to state-                 
  wide need, as number 33 on the school construction list.  He                 
  stated that an appropriation of $241 million would be needed                 
  to fund the construction needs that are ranked ahead of                      
  Eielson.  Therefore, Mr. Guiley reiterated that the DOE does                 
  not support the proposed bill as written.  He recommended                    
  that the projects be submitted through "the normal capital                   
  projects process as the Fairbanks North Star Borough has                     
  already done."                                                               
  Number 694                                                                   
  REP. TOOHEY asked what the status of the schools would be if                 
  indeed Ft. Richardson did eventually close.                                  
  Number 701                                                                   
  CAPT. PORTER answered that the schools would be turned over                  
  to the local military and/or the state.                                      
  Number 719                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS asked Mr. Guiley about the planning grants                     
  given to the North Star Borough.                                             
  Number 728                                                                   
  MR. GUILEY said the North Star Borough School District has                   
  one of the best six-year capital improvement project                         
  planning processes.  He continued on to describe the process                 
  involved in the planning process.                                            
  Number 749                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS said he didn't want to see any planning grants                 
  duplicate some of the information within the task force                      
  recommendations and proposed legislation.                                    
  Number 757                                                                   
  MR. GUILEY said the initial planning that Capt. Porter had                   
  mentioned was related to the upgrade of Taylor and Pennell.                  
  The district determined in their review that it would be in                  
  their best interest to build a new facility, then they could                 
  relinquish control of the two existing facilities and turn                   
  them back to the federal government.                                         
  Number 773                                                                   
  REP. KOTT asked, as a variable, how important schools are in                 
  determining whether or not a military base should be closed.                 
  Number 785                                                                   
  LIEUTENANT GENERAL JOE RALSTON, Commander, Alaskan Command,                  
  (senior ranking military member in Alaska) United States Air                 
  Force, responded by saying that the Base Realignment and                     
  Closure Commission uses many variables when they evaluate a                  
  military base.  They look at the location, training areas,                   
  housing and schools, among other factors.  He said he could                  
  not forecast what the commission will do, but they will look                 
  carefully at on-base schools.  If there are schools that                     
  have roofs that are about to collapse and other serious                      
  states of disrepair, those conditions have a bearing on                      
  their decision when they compare that base with another that                 
  perhaps has better schools on it.                                            
  Number 818                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS told Mr. Guiley that she felt the North Star                   
  Borough situation was different from the situations being                    
  addressed within the proposed legislation.  She said the                     
  nine schools still belong to the U.S. DOD and the capital                    
  grant process would not apply because the local school                       
  district would only allow the transfer if the upgrades had                   
  already been made.                                                           
  Number 869                                                                   
  MR. GUILEY said that his reference to the guidelines were                    
  referring to the capital projects funding process that is in                 
  existence for schools statewide.  He said it would be the                    
  choice of the local school district of whether or not to                     
  take title to the proposed buildings.  The only way the                      
  federal government would provide more money for the                          
  buildings would be if the district agreed to take title.                     
  Number 928                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asked what type of proposal would satisfy the                  
  Number 934                                                                   
  MR. GUILEY suggested that the projects be applied for, be                    
  evaluated and placed on a prioritized list, and recognized                   
  on a statewide basis.  He said the current list this year                    
  totals approximately $660 million of school construction                     
  statewide, citing that was just the first year of a six-year                 
  plan.  He said the total for the six-year plan is over $2                    
  billion of outstanding, unfunded capital improvement project                 
  requests.  He asked that the applications be developed for                   
  the schools in the proposed legislation.                                     
  Number 959                                                                   
  REP. B. DAVIS asserted that if that procedure were to be                     
  followed, the schools could be on the list "forever."  She                   
  stated again that it was not reasonable to expect the nine                   
  schools to follow the same procedure.                                        
  Number 977                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY asked how Alaskan standards compare to standards                  
  Number 995                                                                   
  CAPT. PORTER stated that there are a number of schools in                    
  the same situation throughout the United States.  He said                    
  "our schools probably fare somewhere in the middle-range of                  
  this.  However, I can only take and look at Anchorage school                 
  districts, and if you were to rank the majority of the                       
  schools that we are talking about, they are in the Anchorage                 
  bowl area.  And, if you take a look at what they've                          
  done...they've had an HSI study a few years ago (1992) and                   
  they took a look at all the schools, and all of our schools                  
  rank in their top ten worst schools that they have.  And, I                  
  think that makes a statement, in itself, if you only apply                   
  that.  And, they have the most schools of any school                         
  district in the state of Alaska, 72 or so, 55 of them being                  
  REP. VEZEY asked in what years the schools were built.                       
  CAPT. PORTER replied 1952-1960.                                              
  REP. VEZEY said "the schools that we're comparing them with                  
  in Anchorage were all built in (the) 60's and mostly in the                  
  late 70's and beyond."                                                       
  Number 027                                                                   
  CAPT. PORTER agreed, but felt the schools being discussed                    
  did not have the programmed upgrades and normal maintenance                  
  that the other schools had.                                                  
  Number 032                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY said he could think of very few schools in the                    
  state that are over 30 years old, and the ones that did come                 
  to mind were on military bases.                                              
  Number 043                                                                   
  CAPT. PORTER stated that "the number of schools that were                    
  this age... there is less than 10% of the schools that are                   
  in the state of Alaska...through that information we                         
  gathered at the task force level to find out exactly where                   
  we're sitting.  Again, I'm not so worried about the age of                   
  the school as I am the programmed maintenance and upgrades                   
  that we've had over the years."                                              
  Number 053                                                                   
  REP. VEZEY said that "a lot of those program upgrades and                    
  whatnot is due to the fact that the legislature has adopted                  
  new building standards which makes these older buildings                     
  Number 056                                                                   
  CAPT. PORTER agreed that there had been a number of statutes                 
  addressing that issue.  He felt that the main problem was,                   
  "who's responsible for it?"  He said there is no capital                     
  improvement for on-base schools because the districts don't                  
  own them.                                                                    
  Number 070                                                                   
  REP. TOOHEY asked, "is this unique to the United States...                   
  this snafu?"                                                                 
  Number 073                                                                   
  CAPT. PORTER said it was not.                                                
  Number 088                                                                   
  REP. G. DAVIS related the concern that all legislators have                  
  for their school district, hypothetically asking why his                     
  district hadn't been given priority.  He reminded Capt.                      
  Porter that all legislators were facing the same problems                    
  and crisis situation in the state with educational                           
  Number 109                                                                   
  REP. MULDER restated that the situation was unique in that                   
  the school districts would not take over the on-base schools                 
  until they are brought up to code, and there was no funding                  
  mechanism in place to enable a transfer.  He stated that                     
  school districts in other states were undertaking the                        
  financial responsibility of upgrading the schools and                        
  maintaining their military establishments because they                       
  realized the importance of military bases to their economy.                  
  Number 141                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE thanked everyone for their testimony and                         
  instructed the committee to take a brief at-ease.                            
  TAPE 94-10, SIDE B                                                           
  Number 000                                                                   
  CHAIR BUNDE reconvened the meeting at 3:45 p.m. and stated                   
  that Rep. Kott arrived at 3:04 p.m.  Chair Bunde brought                     
  HB 84 to the table for discussion.                                           

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