Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/21/1996 03:07 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 216 - EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM                                       
 Number 233                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT, Sponsor of HB 216, said he had a                    
 committee substitute to address for the committee.                            
 Number 266                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved to adopt CSHB 216, Work Draft 9-                
 LS0765\M, Ford, 3/12/96.  Hearing no objection, CSHB 216, Work                
 Draft 9-LS0765\M was adopted.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said that educational technology is a major               
 concern in modern society.  Of the eight million high paying jobs             
 in America, almost one-fourth were in the technology arena.  He               
 felt it was an important way to approach education and training.              
 The intent of the original bill was to set up the Alaska                      
 educational technology program; that intent is maintained in the              
 committee substitute.  Section 1 of the proposed committee                    
 substitute deals with the legislative findings and the purpose of             
 the bill.  Section 2 of the original bill which dealt with school             
 districts being required to submit reports was deleted.  He learned           
 there is a new report being generated in the Department of                    
 Education, and their intention is to continue to publish that                 
 report.  Section 2 of the committee substitute, contains several              
 things being required as far as the major purposes of the education           
 technology program.  Most of the requirements that were in the                
 original bill to administer the fund were eliminated because there            
 is no general fund monies involved and most likely it will be                 
 operated by pass-through grants.  The structuring will be done in             
 a manner he believed very similar to the Alaska Children's Trust              
 Fund.  He dropped the requirement that the Department of Education            
 could not use any of the fund money for administrative expenses.              
 It is his experience that grant money that has flowed into various            
 funds that have been established in the state generally come                  
 through with the understanding that normal administrative expenses            
 would be deducted from the grant.                                             
 Number 450                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT informed the committee he had recently learned            
 the federal government has billions of dollars that will be                   
 available to the various states for inclusion into various funds              
 around the states for education technology.  It is currently before           
 Number 470                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT said Section AS 14.30.810 basically covers the            
 duties of the department.  The requirement for the department to              
 administer the details of the fund has been shifted and instead               
 overview language borrowed from other states was inserted.  Those             
 states include Georgia, Florida, California and Minnesota.  The               
 duties of the commissioner of revenue are identified in Section               
 14.30.820.  Those duties are basically to administer the fund once            
 the department is empowered with monies.  He noted this was the               
 standard procedure for handling funds for trusts in Alaska.                   
 Section 14.30.850 is the Definitions section of the bill and is               
 pretty straightforward.  Finally, Section 3 of the bill is the                
 effective date of the Act.  He explained that basically the                   
 framework has been set up in which to receive monies from the                 
 federal government that appears to be forthcoming.  There is also             
 an opportunity for the legislature to appropriate money and an                
 opportunity is allowed for the private sector to make contributions           
 into this framework.  The Department of Education will actually               
 oversee the fund, with the Department of Revenue disbursing the               
 Number 609                                                                    
 LARRY WIGET, Director of Government Relations, Anchorage School               
 District, testified from Anchorage that the Anchorage School                  
 District supports the establishment of the Alaska Education                   
 Technology program and urges support of the program by the                    
 legislature.  One year ago to the day, he first testified in                  
 support of HB 216; since that time, much has changed.  For example,           
 the ability to share information with each other around the state             
 and around the world (indisc.) through awareness in the use of                
 Internet.  The development of new software now makes accepting this           
 information network by students and teachers more user friendly.              
 The Department of Education, Anchorage School District,                       
 Municipality of Anchorage and other organizations, individuals and            
 businesses around the state have recognized the importance of this            
 communication avenue.  Unfortunately, what has not changed in the             
 past year is the ability of the districts and the state to provide            
 equitable access to information through the information highway to            
 all students.  In the past year, the Anchorage School District has            
 developed a (indisc.) of instructional technology plan with the               
 help of the instructional technology committee consisting of over             
 40 community and school personnel.  Their vision begins with a                
 student in the classroom, eager to learn because of the                       
 instructional technology tools he or she is using.  This student is           
 connected to the district network which is connected to the global            
 information highway.  Computers are used to access information.               
 However, the technology available to the students in the Anchorage            
 School District to fulfil this mission is inadequate and outdated.            
 The district budget cannot provide adequate funds to meet existing            
 or future district instructional technology needs or eliminate the            
 present inequity among the schools in providing access to                     
 technology, information resources and communications.  To this end,           
 the voters of Anchorage (indisc.) $35 million for technology.  The            
 outcome of their efforts will not be known until after the April 16           
 election.  House Bill 216 will establish a technology fund.  It               
 will lay the foundation for future monies to be set aside for                 
 technology needs statewide.  It recognizes the importance of                  
 technology to the future of Alaska.  He urged the committee's                 
 support of HB 216.                                                            
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY expressed her concern that if we wait for the grant           
 money, children will be graduating with no schools at all.  She               
 would like to see this concept taken to the Board of Education so             
 they can incorporate it into their planning.                                  
 Number 821                                                                    
 CARL ROSE, Executive Director, Association of Alaska School Boards,           
 said he views this legislation as enabling; it gives direction.  He           
 said he would like to see this fund established, to be able to at             
 least focus on it as a means of providing the opportunity and                 
 equitable access to technology.  From a personal point of view, he            
 has found that having access to E Mail helps him to communicate               
 with people.  He feels the many uses of technology are critical to            
 the global economy.  He believes the future of young people is                
 dependent on their ability to use technology.  He supports HB 216.            
 Number 913                                                                    
 KIMBERLY HOMME, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner,                
 Department of Education, testified in support of CSHB 216, which              
 establishes the education technology fund and the consequent                  
 program that would result.  The department feels that having a                
 technology fund is the first step to having a commitment to                   
 appropriating the funding that's needed.  The goal of the fund is             
 to create a better trained and more productive work force.  The               
 department is concerned that the bill doesn't appropriate dollars             
 for technology for libraries and schools because it's an empty                
 shell, but it does provide the frame work for future deposits by              
 private business, perspective grants from the federal government              
 and hopefully future appropriations by the legislature.  These                
 monies would then be applied for by school districts and libraries            
 for the purchases of education technology and the associated                  
 training that goes with new technology.  The department would be              
 allowed to deduct administrative fees from the account to pay for             
 the work associated with administering the fund and the program.              
 The department believes if the frame work for the fund is                     
 established, there ultimately would be a mechanism available to               
 enable the state and local school districts to provide the ability            
 for children and citizens with the opportunity to learn technology            
 and its uses.  Ms. Homme referred to Co-Chair Toohey's comment on             
 the Board of Education's concern about technology and education and           
 said just last fall the board adopted statewide voluntary                     
 technology standards for students.  The department has outlined in            
 regulation what children are expected to know and do with                     
 technology, as well as other areas of the curriculum.                         
 Number 1050                                                                   
 CO-CHAIR BUNDE turned the gavel over to Co-Chair Toohey as he had             
 to leave for another committee meeting.                                       
 Number 1061                                                                   
 KAREN JORDAN, Past President, of the Alaska Society for Technology            
 and Education, testified the Society fully supports HB 216.  She is           
 the technology coordinator for the Juneau School District and                 
 personally supports the bill.  She shared an anecdote about a girl            
 who had a new E Mail connection with her father, whom she                     
 previously saw only twice a year, but now was able to communicate             
 with him daily.  She cited several other examples of how technology           
 is currently being used by students.  The Juneau School District is           
 connected to the Internet throughout the district.  As had been               
 previously testified, this bill will set up a fund; it will be a              
 zero balance fund to begin with, but there are many people                    
 throughout the state that are eager and willing to work on                    
 subsequent funding through grants from private corporations and               
 other sources.  We need to make sure that students as they are                
 graduating have the skills needed for jobs and employability.                 
 She said that one estimate is that 70 percent of the technology               
 jobs after the year 2000 will be high technology jobs.  The world             
 is changing, economics are changing and that needs to be addressed            
 in our school systems.                                                        
 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY asked if there were other individuals to testify on           
 HB 216.  Hearing none, she closed public testimony.                           
 Number 1246                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved to pass CSHB 216(HES) out of                    
 committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note.           
 Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.                                      

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