Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/27/2003 03:04 PM HES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 174- CORRESPONDENCE STUDY                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON announced  that the only 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 0115                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
EDDY  JEANS,  Manager,  School Finance  and  Facilities  Section,                                                               
Education  Support Services,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development,  testified in  support of  HB 174  and responded  to                                                               
questions from the  committee.  He explained that  the bill would                                                               
repeal the  statutes referring to  Alyeska Central  School (ACS),                                                               
which is a state operated correspondence program.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0209                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS said  the committee has two fiscal notes  in their bill                                                               
packet.   Fiscal note 1  in the  amount of $5.5  million reflects                                                               
the BRU [Budget  Review Unit] for ACS.  In  ACS's budget there is                                                               
authorization  to  receive and  expend  $5.5  million.   He  said                                                               
$500,000 of  those funds are  from receipt services or  fees that                                                               
ACS  charges students  for coursework.    Through the  foundation                                                               
program, ACS  generates about  $3.8 million  so the  $1.2 million                                                               
remaining  comes  from  other  sources  such  as  federal  grants                                                               
through the department.  Fiscal  note 2 represents a reduction in                                                               
the foundation  program of $1.1  million, which  is approximately                                                               
how  much ACS  generates  for  its summer  school  program.   The                                                               
reason the  department left  the additional  $2.6 million  in the                                                               
foundation  program   is  that  the  department   believes  those                                                               
students in  the regular ACS  program will enroll  somewhere else                                                               
and that money needs to follow those children.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0295                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS told  the committee  that  ACS has  been in  existence                                                               
since 1939  and provides educational programs  to students living                                                               
in  remote areas  where  there are  no  local schools  available.                                                               
Alyeska  Central  School  also  serves students  in  urban  areas                                                               
around the  state.  The department  determined that approximately                                                               
84 percent of  the students enrolled in ACS live  in larger urban                                                               
areas such as Anchorage,  Fairbanks, the Matanuska-Susitna ("Mat-                                                               
Su"), Kenai, Kodiak, and Juneau.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0330                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON commented  that at the time ACS was  created, it was                                                               
the only  correspondence school  available.   She asked  how many                                                               
other correspondence schools are available now.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  responded that  there are  a number  of correspondence                                                               
programs   available   on  a   district   level   and  11   other                                                               
correspondence programs  that are  offered on a  statewide basis.                                                               
In  1997 just  a  couple of  school  districts started  providing                                                               
correspondence programs, and there has  been quite an increase in                                                               
the  number  of  students  being  served  through  correspondence                                                               
programs over the years.   In 1999 there were approximately 7,890                                                               
students  being served  through  correspondence school  programs.                                                               
Currently,  the state  is up  to  9,655 students  on a  statewide                                                               
basis.  He  said that if the committee looks  at ACS's enrollment                                                               
back in 1999 [including summer  school enrollment], it was funded                                                               
for 2,628 students.  In the  current year, ACS had 1,085 students                                                               
in  full-time programs.   Mr.  Jeans agreed  with Chair  Wilson's                                                               
comment that there has been a sizable decrease since 1999.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0466                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS told  the  committee  that the  members  will hear  in                                                               
testimony that ACS is the  only accredited correspondence program                                                               
in the state,  but three other school districts  have applied for                                                               
accreditation  for their  correspondence  programs.   The  Galena                                                               
School   District  has   a   conditional  accreditation   pending                                                               
completion  of  the  actual accreditation  process.    The  other                                                               
districts that  are in the  process of accreditation  include the                                                               
Craig  School  District's  PACE   Program  and  the  Delta/Greely                                                               
district's Delta Charter Cyber School.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0481                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked  for Mr. Jeans to  clarify the numbers                                                               
again.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS said the $1.2 million  is for the summer school program                                                               
through the foundation  program.  The total  funding ACS received                                                               
was $3.8  million through  the foundation program.   So  there is                                                               
$2.6 million remaining that funds the regular school program.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked  for clarification  on  the  fiscal                                                               
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS responded  that  fiscal note  1 has  a  total of  $5.5                                                               
million; of that,  $3.8 million is funded  through the foundation                                                               
funding  program as  interagency receipts,  $500,000 is  obtained                                                               
through  program  charges  or  tuition  from  students,  and  the                                                               
remainder  of the  funds  come through  the  department from  the                                                               
federal government for programs such as Title I.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  asked if  the  federal  funds follow  the                                                               
students as well as state funds.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. JEANS  replied that  he believes the  funds would  follow the                                                               
students.   Those funds are  distributed on a formula  basis that                                                               
is determined by the needs of the students.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0660                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  SCOTT  testified  in  opposition to  HB  174  and  answered                                                               
questions from the committee.  He  told the committee he does not                                                               
support the  closure of  ACS.  In  his previous  testimony before                                                               
the  House  Special  Committee  on  Education  he  had  told  the                                                               
committee how  the local Rural  Education Attendance  Area (REAA)                                                               
school could not offer an  acceptable education for his children.                                                               
He  said  his family  was  actually  refused assistance  when  he                                                               
pointed  out  problems with  his  children's  failure to  achieve                                                               
mastery of subjects being taught.   He said he could not plan for                                                               
his children's education.  In  response to Chair Wilson question,                                                               
Mr. Scott  responded that he  was refused assistance  about three                                                               
years ago.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0681                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  said that  is a  serious accusation  and he                                                               
would like  him to provide  evidence that his family  was refused                                                               
assistance.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCOTT  explained that his  daughter was having  problems with                                                               
mastery  of spelling  and sentence  structure.   He  said he  had                                                               
asked  the  head  teacher  if his  daughter's  teacher  would  be                                                               
allowed to assist in getting  additional coursework or workbooks,                                                               
and he refused  to help.  The  head teacher told him  that he did                                                               
not want to help him with this.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCOTT said  another instance occurred when  his children went                                                               
from  fifth to  sixth grade.   He  had requested  additional help                                                               
with mathematics and science concepts.   The teacher put her hand                                                               
in his face and told him that she does not teach science.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked  how the children were doing in  class at that                                                               
time.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCOTT said his children were  getting As and Bs at that time.                                                               
That is  also part of  the problem in that  he did not  think the                                                               
evaluation reflected the  work the children were doing.   At that                                                               
time, his family needed some  quality choices and alternatives in                                                               
order to  ensure his  children would  not be left  behind.   As a                                                               
result, his family studied what  options were available and found                                                               
that  ACS was  the  only real  alternative.   None  of the  other                                                               
correspondence schools  could offer  the history and  prestige of                                                               
ACS.    Alyeska Central  School  was  accredited, and  therefore,                                                               
courses were accepted by colleges.   Other programs do not have a                                                               
course catalog  and program like  ACS, and  they do not  have the                                                               
willing  and   able  staff  capable  of   evaluating  mastery  of                                                               
subjects, provision of assistance, and support.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCOTT  told the committee he  was struck by the  testimony in                                                               
previous  hearings  where  there  was  an  assertion  that  other                                                               
correspondence schools could provide  an equal alternative to ACS                                                               
for  distance education.   The  other correspondence  programs do                                                               
not offer an  equal educational experience for  his children that                                                               
ACS  does.   He  said  he  was struck  by  the  testimony of  the                                                               
Department   of  Education   and   Early  Development   personnel                                                               
indicating "they  did not want to  be in this business"  and that                                                               
other distance  education programs  could pick  up the  slack and                                                               
were willing  and able to do  so.  Mr. Scott  asked what business                                                               
the department  wants to be in.   He told the  committee the only                                                               
thing the other providers were willing  to do is take the state's                                                               
money  and  sign his  children  up  before  the "count  date"  in                                                               
October so they  could get the money.   He said he  was struck by                                                               
the emphasis  or the assertion that  money could be saved  by the                                                               
closure of ACS.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0912                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SCOTT told  the  committee  if they  close  ACS the  state's                                                               
contribution  toward  his  children's education  will  rise  from                                                               
about $3,800 to  over $10,000.  There are other  children who are                                                               
in the ACS  student body who could go to  boarding school and the                                                               
cost could  go as high  as $15,000.   He questioned what  kind of                                                               
accounting rules  are being  used in  determining the  savings to                                                               
the  state.   He asked  if Arthur  Andersen [the  accounting firm                                                               
implicated  in  the  Enron  scandal] is  lurking  in  the  fiscal                                                               
department.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0950                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SCOTT  summarized by saying that  at best, this is  a raid on                                                               
the  state's treasury  by  the less  qualified  and less  capable                                                               
district programs, or at worst, it  is an attempt to get families                                                               
to leave the state to seek  education.  Alyeska Central School is                                                               
not redundant.   He  asked a  number of  questions about  how the                                                               
closure  of  ACS  would  be  handled and  what  would  happen  to                                                               
students.   He said  this bill leaves  children behind,  does not                                                               
promote choice,  and does not  provide for a  better alternative.                                                               
He said  he takes it  personally because  it is his  children who                                                               
will be  left behind and his  children who will no  longer have a                                                               
choice.  He asked the committee not to support this bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1060                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
NANCY  RICHAR testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.   She  told the  committee her  son recently  graduated from                                                               
ACS.   She said her son  was the third generation  of children in                                                               
her  family  that   graduated  from  ACS.     Her  children  have                                                               
experienced both  public and correspondence programs  in the past                                                               
and found  ACS a  breath of  fresh air.   There is  no comparison                                                               
between  traditional  public  school  and  ACS.    She  told  the                                                               
committee she called the  Mat-Su [Matanuska-Susitna] Borough last                                                               
week  to see  if  its  program was  approved.    Its high  school                                                               
classes are all  ordered from out of state,  and teacher contacts                                                               
consists   of  ordering   courses,   monthly  appointments,   and                                                               
recording  grades.     She  said   the  Mat-Su   School  District                                                               
correspondence program  knew nothing  about participation  in the                                                               
Academic Decathlon, Hugh O'Brien's  Leadership Conference, or the                                                               
state  and national  Close-Up programs.   Alyeska  Central School                                                               
participates  in  all of  these  programs.    In addition,  if  a                                                               
student enrolls  after the  November 1  cutoff date,  the parents                                                               
have to pay  the $250 fee for  each course.  When  she called the                                                               
IDEA  [Interior Distance  Education in  Alaska] program,  she was                                                               
told  that it  is a  home  school program,  not a  correspondence                                                               
program.   The parents are  the teachers; that means  the child's                                                               
education is  as good as  the parent's education  and commitment.                                                               
She said her son would not be where he is today without ACS.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1177                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARVEL  LLOYD testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.   She  told the  committee  she lives  in Nome  and has  two                                                               
daughters currently in  ACS and a son who graduated  from ACS who                                                               
is currently  a junior in  college.  Ms.  Lloyd said it  is clear                                                               
from the testimony she has heard  in the last three meetings that                                                               
closing ACS  is not  a money  issue.  The  uniqueness of  ACS has                                                               
been  recounted over  and over  again.   She  told the  committee                                                               
ACS's required  accountability with  the teachers, the  fact that                                                               
the  teachers  know their  subjects  well  and have  written  and                                                               
rewritten  the curriculum,  and  the  "one-on-one" with  students                                                               
over the  phone are some of  the most important features  of ACS.                                                               
She questioned the  policy that the state should  not be involved                                                               
in  education.     Alyeska  Central  School  fills   in  gaps  in                                                               
education, especially with  respect to summer school.   Ms. Lloyd                                                               
asked why  the legislature would  consider throwing away  what is                                                               
not broken.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1262                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SERENA  LLOYD testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.   She told the committee  she is a high  school student with                                                               
ACS  and it  is a  very good  program.   No other  correspondence                                                               
program offers what ACS does.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1310                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  questioned whether ACS only  accepts students after                                                               
"the count" with special permission  from the commissioner of the                                                               
Department of Education and Early  Development.  She asked if ACS                                                               
also charges  $250 per class  if students enroll after  the count                                                               
date.   Chair Wilson asked if  John Paden would come  forward and                                                               
speak to these issues.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1354                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  PADEN, Counselor,  Alyeska Central  School; Representative,                                                               
Alyeska  Central  School Association,  testified  on  HB 174  and                                                               
answered questions from the committee.   Mr. Paden responded that                                                               
ACS does accept  children at any time of the  year.  The students                                                               
are  counseled depending  upon the  particular time  of the  year                                                               
they are considering enrollment.   For example, if a student were                                                               
to come in  and want to start  a class in April and  finish it in                                                               
June, the  counsel would  be that  it is  pretty unlikely  that a                                                               
student  could  finish the  course  in  the  amount of  time  the                                                               
student has chosen.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON asked  if in  that  circumstance there  would be  a                                                               
charge and whether  it would be necessary to  get permission from                                                               
the commissioner of education.   She asked what the process would                                                               
be.                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1400                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN explained that typically  a parent will call requesting                                                               
late  enrollment  for the  child.    After discussions  with  the                                                               
parent, he  makes a  decision based on  the circumstances  of the                                                               
student  and  has  the  ability  to  approve  enrollment  without                                                               
charge.   He  said that  ACS does  enroll some  students who  pay                                                               
tuition,  or at  a given  time  of the  year, ACS  may waive  the                                                               
tuition.     Much   of  the   determination  is   based  on   the                                                               
circumstances of the family; for  example, if a student has moved                                                               
from  one  district  to  another, the  student  would  be  enroll                                                               
without tuition.   If  the student  has not  enrolled in  a local                                                               
school and is  new to the state, ACS will  enroll him/her without                                                               
tuition.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1462                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  asked how easy it  would be for families  to enroll                                                               
their  children if  a  teacher  became sick  or  for some  reason                                                               
students were without a teacher.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN  responded that it can  be very easy, depending  on the                                                               
circumstances.  He said, for  instance, if there has been illness                                                               
or for some reason the student has  not been able to be in class,                                                               
then ACS will bring the student in at no charge to the family.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked  if there is a limit on  how many students ACS                                                               
can accept in this way without charging tuition.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PADEN  responded that  ACS  cannot  do it  indiscriminately;                                                               
however, they try to be responsive  to what is happening with the                                                               
family.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON asked  what  happens  if it  is  not necessarily  a                                                               
hardship situation with  the family.  For instance,  if a student                                                               
is having  trouble at  school or  the student  does not  like the                                                               
teacher,  so in  the  middle of  the year  the  family wants  the                                                               
student to go to ACS, what would happen in that situation?                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1512                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN  said in a  circumstance when  the student has  been in                                                               
school and there is no medical  issue, no change in district, and                                                               
the student is not new to  the state, then the usual procedure is                                                               
to offer the program with tuition.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked how much would the family have to pay.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  PADEN  responded  that  the  cost is  $250  per  course  per                                                               
semester.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1568                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER said that one  of the concerns she has for                                                               
rural Alaska  is that  so many  of the teachers  in the  Bush are                                                               
teaching  out of  their subject  areas.   Since ACS  has so  many                                                               
certified  teachers  in their  subject  areas,  does ACS  provide                                                               
assistance to these teachers to  help strengthen the programs for                                                               
rural students?                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN replied  that it is possible and in  some cases it does                                                               
happen.  He  said that sometimes a district will  say to ACS that                                                               
it will pay the  $250 for a course.  Requests  do not always come                                                               
from the family.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  commented that there  are many teachers  across the                                                               
state, not just  in rural areas, that are doing  an excellent job                                                               
teaching in areas that they are not certified to teach.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1650                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked about schools  that no longer offer a                                                               
particular  course, for  instance, language  courses.   She asked                                                               
what the  arrangement is between  districts and ACS  with respect                                                               
to enrollment of  some of their students in classes  that are not                                                               
available in local schools.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN  said it is not  uncommon for districts to  buy courses                                                               
from ACS.   The understanding when  a district does that  is that                                                               
they are  also buying teacher  services.  He commented  that this                                                               
also relates  to Representative  Kapsner's question about  when a                                                               
district  is  getting  not  just  teaching  materials,  but  also                                                               
teaching  services.   Sometimes  a district  may  buy the  course                                                               
without the teaching services.  He  said he does not know all the                                                               
details  of  that  arrangement, but  when  that  happens  someone                                                               
locally  does the  teaching  portion of  the  course while  using                                                               
ACS's course materials.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  asked if the  charge of $250  per semester                                                               
per course would apply.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN responded  that is correct.  Those funds  would go into                                                               
program receipts that Mr. Jeans spoke of a few moments ago.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1740                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER  said  that in  reviewing  testimony  she                                                               
noted  there  is  a  letter   from  Becky  Crabtree,  alternative                                                               
education  teacher  in   Barrow,  who  says  that   they  have  a                                                               
partnership with ACS whereby over  50 North Slope students in six                                                               
remote villages have  enrolled in one or more classes.   She said                                                               
her  question was  answered thanks  to both  Mr. Paden  and Becky                                                               
Crabtree.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1761                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  noted  that  in the  House  Special  Committee  on                                                               
Education meeting  it was  said that 26  percent of  the students                                                               
enrolled  in  ACS  are  also  enrolled  in  other  correspondence                                                               
programs.   She  said  that in  many cases  it  is a  "cafeteria"                                                               
arrangement where classes are picked from different schools.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1788                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  explained that  since she  was not  at the                                                               
House Special Committee on Education  meeting that discussed this                                                               
bill, she is trying to gain  a better understanding of the issue.                                                               
Representative Cissna  shared her  experience with a  stepson who                                                               
was a graduate of ACS in  the mid-seventies.  When she began home                                                               
schooling   him,  he   was  three   and  a   half  years   behind                                                               
academically.  He had been to  a special school and a traditional                                                               
school, but was getting further and  further behind.  She said as                                                               
a family there was  a decision to lock heels and  put him in home                                                               
school.   It took 12 months  of hard labor, and  he graduated 8th                                                               
grade  on course  level with  As and  Bs because  of concentrated                                                               
work.   Her family  felt it was  the only way  it could  be done.                                                               
She asked Mr. Paden if there  are statistics on why people choose                                                               
these programs and what they are able to accomplish.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN  replied that  he does not  have those  statistics, but                                                               
believes ACS has  the ability to address  that question somewhat.                                                               
There are many circumstances that bring  people to ACS, and it is                                                               
hard work.   Many come to ACS  to shorten the time  that would be                                                               
required to bring kids  up to their peer level.   He said it does                                                               
happen, but it is a lot of work.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON asked  if there  is  an administrator  at ACS  that                                                               
makes  the  decisions  or  is   he  the  person  that  makes  the                                                               
determination as to whether or not a student comes into ACS.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. PADEN responded  that there is an administrator.   The Acting                                                               
Director,  Margaret McKinnon,  is not  here  today.   She is  the                                                               
person who ultimately makes the decisions.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1942                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TERESA DEMOTT  testified via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174  and answered  questions from  the committee.   She  told the                                                               
committee that  her son is  in his fourth year  at ACS and  he is                                                               
just completing  his eighth  grade this  year.   She asked  why a                                                               
nearly perfect  school is being  looked at  for closure.   If her                                                               
family goes with one of  the other correspondence schools and the                                                               
accreditation does  not happen, her  son will lose all  that time                                                               
in school.   She said  her son was  not offered enough  in public                                                               
school.   He was labeled  a gifted child,  but what they  did for                                                               
him is  offer him  a bus ride  every Friday to  go hang  out with                                                               
other  gifted children.   She  said  she knows  what her  child's                                                               
capability is  and it  is her  job to make  sure he  achieves his                                                               
highest potential.   Alyeska Central School has  provided this to                                                               
him.  He is an excellent student,  maintains As and Bs, and is in                                                               
constant  contact with  his teachers,  from whom  he receives  so                                                               
much support.   He gets the  support he requires, and  he did not                                                               
get that in public school.  Ms.  DeMott said she knows money is a                                                               
big issue.   She believes that  the committee has not  been given                                                               
enough  information to  make the  right decision  to protect  ACS                                                               
students.   She said she feels  that she is being  attacked.  She                                                               
asked the committee to defeat the bill.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2023                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked, if there were  an alternative school                                                               
that was accredited, whether that would be all right.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  DEMOTT responded  that it  would  not, because  they do  not                                                               
offer the same  caliber of courses that ACS offers.   This can be                                                               
verified by looking at other school curriculums.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if  Ms. DeMott felt  ACS is  the only                                                               
school that can  provide the education needed for her  son.  [Ms.                                                               
DeMott did not respond.]                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  asked if Mr.  Jeans would respond  to the                                                               
reason ACS is being targeted when other schools are not.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2070                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR   WILSON  responded   that  ACS   is  the   only  state-run                                                               
correspondence school.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2187                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
AYARIE CANTIL-VOOHEES testified  via teleconference in opposition                                                               
to HB 174.   She told the  committee she has been  in enrolled at                                                               
ACS since kindergarten,  with the exception of three  years.  She                                                               
said  ACS is  not a  duplicate of  other correspondence  schools.                                                               
She knows the other schools  and would not be satisfied attending                                                               
them, and would not have the  personal dedication she has now for                                                               
educational excellence, had she not gone  to ACS.  She said there                                                               
are many  students that  need what  ACS has, and  it will  end up                                                               
costing the  state more just to  close ACS than it  would to keep                                                               
it open.   If the  other correspondence  schools do not  meet the                                                               
2005 standards, the state will have  to reopen ACS.  She told the                                                               
committee  that the  governor asked  the legislature  to look  at                                                               
this bill  and judge it  wisely.  Please vote  no on HB  174, she                                                               
asked.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2187                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
LINDA VOORHEES  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB
174.  She  told the committee she has used  ACS for fifteen years                                                               
to  home school  her children.   The  House Special  Committee on                                                               
Education heard  a great deal of  testimony on this bill  and she                                                               
urged members  who were  not there to  listen to  that testimony.                                                               
Alyeska Central  School is  not a  part of  correspondence school                                                               
duplication.  Its  particular combination of assets  is not offer                                                               
anywhere else.   She cited the huge expense  in Internet services                                                               
for rural  Alaskan families.  The  cost could be as  high as $900                                                               
per  month  per child,  which  is  unaffordable to  most  Alaskan                                                               
families.   Ms.  Voorhees said  it takes  between three  and five                                                               
years to get accredited once  the school's application is in, and                                                               
it will  mean students who  graduate from these schools  will not                                                               
have diplomas  from an accredited  school.  She said  parents who                                                               
do home schooling need options.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2291                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BETTY COME testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB 174.                                                               
She told the  committee she has two children who  are enrolled at                                                               
ACS, even though her family only  lives one and a half miles from                                                               
Chugiak High School.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. COME explained  that both of her children  suffer from immune                                                               
disorders.   When her daughter  was in  ninth grade she  got very                                                               
sick and  spent six months out  of school.  Some  of the teachers                                                               
would  not have  homework available.   When  her daughter  was in                                                               
school [her daughter  has an individual education  plan (IEP) for                                                               
a learning disability],  she was allowed to turn  in her homework                                                               
three days  late; however, that  was never followed  through with                                                               
the  teachers,  and she  just  got  further and  further  behind.                                                               
During that  time, her  family found  ACS and  it has  helped her                                                               
children tremendously.   They  are now  staying up  with homework                                                               
and staying on  task.  Her son experienced the  same problem with                                                               
illness  because  the  Chugiak  High School  is  so  overcrowded.                                                               
Since he  has been at  ACS, he is  doing tremendously well.   Ms.                                                               
Come said if it were not for  ACS, her kids would be left behind.                                                               
It is the best home schooling program out there.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-29, SIDE B                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
NANCY WLADYKA  testified via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174  and answered  questions from  the committee.   She  told the                                                               
committee that she has two sons,  ages eight and twelve, who have                                                               
been enrolled  at ACS for  about three  years.  Two  words define                                                               
ACS for  her family:   academics and  excellence.  She  said they                                                               
have been  very impressed with the  high-quality academic program                                                               
ACS offers.   They are grateful to have the  privilege of working                                                               
with the wonderful, dedicated teachers and staff at ACS.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. WLADYKA said  her twelve-year-old son was  enrolled in public                                                               
school  through  the  fourth  grade.    The  curriculum  was  not                                                               
challenging enough for him, and  there was not much sympathy from                                                               
the  public school  when she  complained that  her son  needed to                                                               
learn  more than  what was  being offered.   She  said she  knows                                                               
teachers  have their  hands full  working with  children who  are                                                               
struggling.   During the early  years in school,  she volunteered                                                               
on  a regular  basis in  her son's  classrooms and  witnessed the                                                               
problem.  Her son would spend  a frustrating day in the classroom                                                               
and come  home eager  to educate  himself.   She said  her eight-                                                               
year-old  son  is allergic  to  peanuts,  which  can be  a  life-                                                               
threatening  allergy,  and  has  asthma.   She  said  her  family                                                               
decided it  would be  reckless to  send him to  a school  with no                                                               
school nurse  and where peanuts  are prevalent.  They  began home                                                               
schooling and  he is  advanced in academics.   Ms.  Wladyska told                                                               
the committee  her children have benefited  enormously from their                                                               
education  with  ACS  and  believe  it  would  be  a  mistake  to                                                               
eliminate ACS.   No comparable program  exists.  She said  ACS is                                                               
not a  duplication, it is a  success story.  Please  do not leave                                                               
kids stranded without ACS, she asked members.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2274                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON commented  that Ms.  Wladyka's children  sound like                                                               
exceptional children.  She asked  if the public school was unable                                                               
to challenge them.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WLADYKA responded  that her  son's test  scores were  at the                                                               
99th  percentile in  a second  grade CAT  [California Achievement                                                               
Test] test.   He was eligible  to be tested at  the Johns Hopkins                                                               
University,  and it  was then  recommended that  he be  privately                                                               
schooled  or tutored.   She  explained that  her family  does not                                                               
have the  financial resources  for that kind  of education.   She                                                               
said her husband  worked in the timber industry for  30 years and                                                               
she is sure Chair Wilson is aware of what is happening there.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2224                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DENISE MALONEY  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB
174  and answered  questions from  the committee.   She  told the                                                               
committee  that she  is a  concerned  parent of  an ACS  student.                                                               
There  are  several points  that  need  to  be looked  at  before                                                               
considering the elimination  of ACS.  Alyeska  Central School was                                                               
established  in 1939  and has  been accredited  since 1979.   She                                                               
pointed out that no other  correspondence school offers this kind                                                               
of  record.     Alyeska  Central   School  offers   an  extensive                                                               
curriculum  to  choose  from  in  order  to  meet  the  needs  of                                                               
individual  students.    The  teachers   and  staff  develop  the                                                               
curriculum and grade the work.   Many of the other correspondence                                                               
schools use outside  staff and do not grade the  papers.  Several                                                               
of  these schools  actually  use  ACS as  one  of their  vendors.                                                               
Alyeska  Central School  is not  the school  that is  duplicating                                                               
services.  She  said that Mr. Jeans stated in  committee that the                                                               
only concrete savings is in  the Department of Administration for                                                               
leasing of  space.  The funds  will still be there,  just sent to                                                               
other schools.  Those students  who return to public schools will                                                               
end up  costing the state  more.  She said  her child will.   Ms.                                                               
Maloney commented that  her child is also a gifted  child and has                                                               
taken the Scholastic  Achievement Test (SAT) as  a seventh grader                                                               
and  eighth grader  for  Johns Hopkins  University  and has  done                                                               
outstandingly well.  She said her  daughter has been with ACS for                                                               
two  years.   Originally, they  enrolled her  as a  tuition-based                                                               
student because her  family was not happy with  the public school                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2159                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  about the  relationship between  ACS                                                               
and Johns Hopkins University.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. MALONEY responded that her  daughter was identified as gifted                                                               
when in  the public school  system because  of her CAT  scores or                                                               
benchmark  scores.   She  said Johns  Hopkins  University does  a                                                               
talent search  for gifted children.   These children  are offered                                                               
the opportunity to take the high  school SATs at the seventh- and                                                               
eighth-grade  levels.    In response  to  Representative  Gatto's                                                               
question as  to whether  ACS is  in some  way connected  to Johns                                                               
Hopkins University, she responded that it is not.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 2099                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SEAN  RUDDELL testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.  He told the committee he is  a student at ACS and likes the                                                               
program  very much.    During  his time  in  public school,  from                                                               
kindergarten through sixth  grade, he found it to  be a traumatic                                                               
experience.  He said his sister  attended ACS and he believes ACS                                                               
is the  best program ever.   Even  though he could  have attended                                                               
Central Middle  School, which is  supposed to  be one of  the top                                                               
five middle schools  in the country, he chose to  attend ACS.  He                                                               
said he loves  the fact that he can choose  his own learning pace                                                               
and curriculum, and the one-on-one contact with teachers.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 2030                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VICTORIA MARTIN testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB
174  and answered  questions from  the committee.   She  told the                                                               
committee she is a home school  grandmother and teacher.  Her two                                                               
kids are in eleventh and eighth  grades and have attended ACS for                                                               
three years.  She commented that  a cost sheet had been submitted                                                               
by Rick Currier  that proves that ACS is saving  the state money.                                                               
Many of the  students are employed, and the state  is getting tax                                                               
money from these students.   This program offers her children the                                                               
opportunity to  go forward more quickly.   They are able  to pick                                                               
up a phone and contact a teacher  if they have a question.  It is                                                               
a great program and it does not need to be cut.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked about her comments  on Central Middle                                                               
School.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. MARTIN  responded that her  grandson won  a lottery to  go to                                                               
Central Middle  School.  He was  labeled as a gifted  student and                                                               
went  from  kindergarten through  sixth  grade  in the  Anchorage                                                               
public schools.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked  about her comment about  picking up a                                                               
phone and contacting a teach at  any time.  What are the teachers                                                               
doing between phone calls?                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  MARTIN  responded that  they  are  grading  lessons.   If  a                                                               
teacher is not  available, then ACS finds someone  who can answer                                                               
a question.   If they cannot  get an answer right  away, then the                                                               
teacher will call  them back.  Sometimes teachers  will even call                                                               
on weekends.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1927                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
HAYLIE RUDDELL  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB
174.   She said that  she has a really  good friend who  has been                                                               
with ACS for six years now  because of illness.  Ms. Ruddell said                                                               
she  mentioned her  friend because  she is  a good  example of  a                                                               
child that did  not fall through the cracks because  of ACS.  She                                                               
said she has  been going to ACS  for three years now and  it is a                                                               
wonderful program.  The list of good  things goes on and on.  She                                                               
told the committee she does not want the school to be closed.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1896                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VERNA  GIBSON testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.  She  told the committee she is a  parent and foster parent.                                                               
When her daughter, who was an  honor student, became ill, she was                                                               
only  able to  graduate  because of  ACS.   She  now attends  UAA                                                               
[University  of  Alaska Anchorage]  and  is  on the  chancellor's                                                               
list,  received  an  associate's  degree with  honors,  and  will                                                               
graduate  in 2004.   Her  daughter was  not able  to come  to the                                                               
meeting  and speak  today, so  she is  testifying in  her behalf.                                                               
None of  these opportunities  would have  been available  to her,                                                               
had it not been for ACS.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1840                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  GIBSON  explained that  she  is  also  a foster  parent  for                                                               
children who  have problems  and runs  a therapeutic  group home.                                                               
She told the committee she has  used ACS for some of her children                                                               
who,  because  of  behavioral   problems,  cannot  attend  public                                                               
school.   Had it not been  for ACS, many of  these children would                                                               
not have  been able to  attend school.   She summarized  that she                                                               
believes  the  committee would  be  doing  a  lot of  children  a                                                               
disservice by voting for this bill.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1819                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RYAN  WOLCOTT testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174  and answered  questions from  the  committee.   He told  the                                                               
committee he is  twelve years old and a seventh  grade student at                                                               
ACS.   His family  has a  business that  takes them  to different                                                               
locations  in  Alaska,  and  ACS   has  provided  them  with  the                                                               
flexibility they need.   He said he was hoping  to finish seventh                                                               
grade  in  April  and  move  on  to  the  next  grade,  hopefully                                                               
completing the eighth  grade by the end of the  summer or shortly                                                               
after.    He   told  the  committee  his   family  contacted  the                                                               
Department  of  Education and  Early  Development  for the  other                                                               
eleven options  mentioned in  prior meetings.   On March  20 they                                                               
sent  an e-mail  with a  list of  questions.   Instantly upon  e-                                                               
mailing   the  eleven   messages,   they   discovered  six   were                                                               
undeliverable.   They  had  to  call to  get  the correct  e-mail                                                               
addresses.  As  of today, he said, they have  only received three                                                               
responses;  one  answered  their  questions, and  two  would  not                                                               
answer the questions  and referred his family to  their web site.                                                               
He said he  thinks it is very  scary that if there  is no support                                                               
for his family now, what will  happen when ACS is no longer there                                                               
for him.  No other program compares  to ACS.  Please save ACS, he                                                               
asked members.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1759                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked Mr. Wolcott if  he would fax her the questions                                                               
his family asked.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1721                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KYM  WOLCOTT testified  via teleconference  in  opposition to  HB
174.   She  told the  committee that  she has  already testified.                                                               
Her main  concern was to ensure  that her son had  an opportunity                                                               
to testify  on his  views of ACS.   She said  that she  hopes the                                                               
committee will not vote to close ACS.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1702                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JULIET ROBINSON testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB
174.  She told the committee  she has a daughter who is attending                                                               
ACS because she is unable  to attend a traditional school because                                                               
she  has  Tourette   Syndrome.    It  is  a   condition  that  is                                                               
distracting to  other students and  teachers.  She said  that her                                                               
daughter  has always  been an  enthusiastic student,  but in  the                                                               
last year has  begun to miss a  lot of school due  to her illness                                                               
or cold  or flu.  There  is evidence that individuals  who suffer                                                               
from  this disorder  also have  a  weakened immune  system.   Ms.                                                               
Robinson  said when  her daughter  entered her  freshman year  in                                                               
high  school she  was  missing  one week  per  month  and it  was                                                               
becoming  increasingly   difficult  for  her  to   keep  up  with                                                               
schoolwork.    Anxiety causes  the  symptoms  of her  illness  to                                                               
become more pronounced.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  ROBINSON said  after winter  break,  her daughter's  anxiety                                                               
became so bad that she was unable  to return to school.  She said                                                               
that  she looked  into correspondence  schools as  an alternative                                                               
but was  told that  they do not  accept students  in mid-semester                                                               
and there  was generally  a charge  involved.   That is  when she                                                               
spoke to  John Paden,  a counselor  at ACS.   She told  Mr. Paden                                                               
about  her daughter's  condition and  he told  her that  ACS does                                                               
make allowances  for illness and  that they would  admit students                                                               
in the  middle of  the year and  there would be  no charge.   Ms.                                                               
Robinson  said she  was impressed  by the  wide range  of classes                                                               
offered by ACS.  When her  daughter learned that she could attend                                                               
ACS,  her  symptoms  decreased  dramatically.    Please  consider                                                               
everyone's testimony  when you consider  whether or not  to close                                                               
ACS, she asked members.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1595                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VIRGINIA KAHLER testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB
174  and answered  questions from  the committee.   She  told the                                                               
committee that  she has been  attending ACS for three  years now.                                                               
When she  attended public school  in ninth grade,  she completely                                                               
failed it.   She  did not know  how to do  math and  knew nothing                                                               
about grammar.   She  said she  was embarrassed  to ask  for help                                                               
because  she felt  stupid.    When she  would  ask  for help  the                                                               
teachers would  say they  would work  with her  at lunch,  so she                                                               
would sit through  the whole class not knowing what  to do.  When                                                               
the teachers would  help her, they would rush through  it and she                                                               
still would  not understand it.   She said  she had no  goals for                                                               
herself.   She said if she  could not pass high  school, what was                                                               
she  going to  do with  her  life.   When she  attended ACS,  the                                                               
teachers gave her one-on-one attention  and made sure she got it.                                                               
The  teachers  would  call  her   to  make  sure  she  understood                                                               
concepts.   She said she  was actually  getting As and  that felt                                                               
good.   Her sisters now  ask her how  to solve math  problems and                                                               
how to  write paragraphs and where  to put commas.   She told the                                                               
committee she  has now set  the goal  of going into  the military                                                               
after  high school.    She said  she would  like  to finish  high                                                               
school with  ACS because she has  done so well.   Kids who attend                                                               
ACS are graduating  and getting their high school  diplomas.  She                                                               
asked  why the  legislature would  want  to take  that away  from                                                               
them.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1491                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked, when  she had  a problem  with math,                                                               
whether she called ACS.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. KAHLER responded that she did.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  observed that when she  worked face-to-face                                                               
with a  teacher in a  classroom, she  was not able  to understand                                                               
it, but was able to understand it through a phone call.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. KAHLER  responded that  is correct.   She explained  that the                                                               
high school teacher in public  school really had no patience with                                                               
her.   When she called ACS,  the math teacher was  there for her.                                                               
She said he made sure she got  the math problem 100 percent.  She                                                               
said until she went to ACS, she never ever got As on math tests.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked how long that phone call was.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. KAHLER replied it was probably a 40-minute call.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO commented  that she  had one-on-one  for 40                                                               
minutes.  He asked how often she calls teachers.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. KAHLER  responded not  very often,  probably three  times per                                                               
week.  Math is her weakest subject.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1453                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VALERIE WHITE  testified via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.  She told the committee she  is a home school teacher of two                                                               
children,  works in  a family  business, and  is involved  in the                                                               
community they  live, which  is Whale Pass.   She  commented that                                                               
she agrees  with all  the supporting testimony  of ACS.   Alyeska                                                               
Central School is a very  important program and should stay open.                                                               
Her oldest  son has  been enrolled  at ACS  for twelve  years and                                                               
hopes to get  his diploma next winter.  Her  younger son was with                                                               
ACS for  the first years  of school, but  has been with  the IDEA                                                               
School out of  Galena since 1998.  Her family  knows what the two                                                               
types of programs offer.  Alyeska  Central School has made a huge                                                               
difference in  her son's life.   He has been able  to participate                                                               
in  programs like  Academic  Decathlon and  Close-Up.   Going  to                                                               
Washington, D.C.,  was a  huge opportunity  for a  rural student.                                                               
She said she is concerned that  the other programs are fairly new                                                               
and  have not  had the  opportunity  to prove  themselves.   They                                                               
could easily get regulated out  of existence by the Department of                                                               
Education  and Early  Development or  eliminated by  their school                                                               
boards if  financial problems arise.   Alyeska Central  School is                                                               
the only  correspondence program  guaranteed to Alaskans  by law.                                                               
Please do not make any rash  decisions about ACS, she asked.  She                                                               
commented in response to  Representative Gatto's earlier question                                                               
about  what  the  teachers  do,  saying  that  she  has  had  the                                                               
opportunity to  visit the teachers at  ACS and they are  busy all                                                               
the time.  They  have between 70 to 80 students  each.  She asked                                                               
if the committee would try to do what it can to keep ACS.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1302                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON said  ACS has  60 students  per teacher  capped for                                                               
elementary school; however,  there are more students  in the high                                                               
school, as they teach students at other high schools.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. WHITE said she knows  the PE [physical education] teacher has                                                               
about 200 students.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1270                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PAULA WILLIAMS  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB
174.   She told the committee  that she has three  boys currently                                                               
in ACS,  and a  daughter that  already graduated  from ACS.   Ms.                                                               
Williams  commented on  the many  people who  testified whom  she                                                               
agrees with and  hopes the committee will keep  their thoughts in                                                               
mind.    By closing  ACS,  the  state  will  be losing  the  only                                                               
mandated program, and for people like  her family who live in the                                                               
Bush,  there  is  no  brick-and-mortar school  and  there  is  no                                                               
choice.   She said she  does not want  to use some  other program                                                               
that  may not  be around  in  a couple  of years.   Ms.  Williams                                                               
commented that  her son is  a senior and  wants to go  to college                                                               
and he needs an accredited senior  year.  This school is the only                                                               
program that writes  and updates the classes.  Over  the last six                                                               
years, she has  seen the science program improve  with the latest                                                               
information.  Every year the  teachers are improving the classes.                                                               
She asked  that the legislature not  close ACS.  Be  sure to look                                                               
at all the facts, she urged members.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1183                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER WILCOX testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB
174.   She said she  is a student  at ACS  and is opposed  to the                                                               
bill for two  reasons.  First, the other  alternative schools are                                                               
not equal  to ACS.  Second,  closing ACS will not  save the state                                                               
money.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.   WILCOX  explained   that  the   many  alternative   schools                                                               
identified to  her family as  possible replacements for  ACS have                                                               
not received  accreditation yet.   In fact,  it could take  up to                                                               
five years for  some of them to become accredited,  while ACS has                                                               
been accredited  since 1979.  Many  of the schools are  trying to                                                               
develop courses  that are  already in  place at  ACS.   The other                                                               
schools do  not have  the number  of staff  or teachers,  and the                                                               
teachers do  not support their students  the way they do  at ACS.                                                               
She said that some of  the schools are completely computer-based,                                                               
which is not an option for her and other students                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. WILCOX  discussed the issued  of savings  to the state.   She                                                               
said it  costs $3,220 for an  ACS student versus $10,992  for the                                                               
state to send  her to public school in her  district, which would                                                               
be a  $7,772 increase to the  state.  She pointed  out that there                                                               
would  be no  savings at  all for  her and  her brother,  just an                                                               
increase.  Please  consider her testimony and keep  ACS open, she                                                               
concluded.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1095                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  for  the names  of  the schools  her                                                               
family contacted and which they decided would not be adequate.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WILCOX named  the  IDEA  Program in  particular.   She  also                                                               
pointed out  that the superintendent for  the Delta/Greely School                                                               
spoke  in  Representative  Gatto's   committee  about  not  being                                                               
accredited  and that  it  would take  at least  two  years to  be                                                               
accredited.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON asked  if  her family  had  actually contacted  the                                                               
schools or had just heard about them.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS. WILCOX  replied that her  mother did contact IDEA  School and                                                               
Nenana  Student  Living  Center.    Although  she  had  contacted                                                               
several, she said she did not have the list in front of her.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1014                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
TIM MORGAN testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB 174.                                                               
He told the committee his  daughter is currently enrolled at ACS.                                                               
She got pregnant at 17, and her  choice was to either drop out of                                                               
school  or go  to ACS.   She  chose ACS  and it  has been  a good                                                               
choice for her.  He said she has  been able to stay home with her                                                               
baby.   He said his daughter  has other friends who  got pregnant                                                               
in school,  dropped out of  school, and now  are on welfare.   He                                                               
said  if the  state  closes ACS,  there will  be  more people  on                                                               
welfare because they do not have  a choice.  He said his daughter                                                               
cannot afford  day care, so her  choice is to home  school or not                                                               
do school at  all.  He told  the committee he does  not think ACS                                                               
should be closed.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0963                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHRISTINE WILCOX  testified via  teleconference in  opposition to                                                               
HB 174.   She said she  is the parent  of students in ACS  and is                                                               
opposed  to  closing  ACS  for  all the  same  reasons  that  the                                                               
committee has  already heard.   There  is no  real savings.   The                                                               
alternative schools like  IDEA did offer [her  family] $1,500 per                                                               
student  to attend,  and the  way it  worked is  that the  family                                                               
would  send in  their grades  once per  month and  that was  just                                                               
about it.   It did not offer the backup  services offered by ACS.                                                               
She said  she just  does not  see any  advantage to  closing ACS.                                                               
Everything ACS offers is excellent.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0898                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CINDY  MICHOU testified  via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.   She  told  the  committee she  has  testified in  previous                                                               
hearings  but wanted  to make  a quick  point that  the Anchorage                                                               
School  District  (ASD)  relies  on ACS  and  its  summer  school                                                               
program.  The  Anchorage School District has a  limited number of                                                               
slots for the summer school, and  ACS is the number-one school on                                                               
the ASD list where students  will be accepted and receive credits                                                               
for  high school.   She  said  she believes  that ACS  acts as  a                                                               
safety net for a  lot of kids across the state  and she hopes the                                                               
committee will vote no on HB 174.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0806                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
THOMAS ROBINSON testified via teleconference  in opposition to HB
174.  He  told the committee he  has a child that has  a need and                                                               
like a  lot of  other parents has  looked for a  way to  help his                                                               
child.   He said ACS  was that helping  hand.  Mr.  Robinson told                                                               
the committee he hopes the members will vote this bill down.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked what grade his daughter is in.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBINSON replied that she is a freshman this year.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0719                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BREANNA ROBINSON  testified via  teleconference in  opposition to                                                               
HB 174.   She  told the committee  she is a  freshman at  ACS and                                                               
enrolled because she  has Tourette Syndrome.  If it  were not for                                                               
ACS, she  believes she  would be  behind in  all of  her classes.                                                               
She said  she is a "pretty  smart" student and does  not think it                                                               
would be fair.  She said  she found that the other correspondence                                                               
courses did not  accept students in the middle of  the year.  She                                                               
said  that throughout  her school  career, she  had been  getting                                                               
good  grades until  Tourette Syndrome  got worse;  however, since                                                               
she has been enrolled at ACS she has been getting good grades.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0620                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
RUBY BULLCHILD  testified via teleconference in  opposition to HB
174.  She told the committee she  is a student at ACS because she                                                               
had knee-reconstruction  surgery last fall, which  meant she fell                                                               
behind in  her studies.  She  urged the committee not  to vote in                                                               
favor  of closing  ACS.   She said  the President  of the  United                                                               
States says  he does not want  any children left behind  and said                                                               
that if  ACS is closed, she  will be left behind.   Ms. Bullchild                                                               
said she  is proud  of attending  school in  Alaska and  wants to                                                               
graduate  from Alaska  and  not from  a school  in  the Lower  48                                                               
states.   She said she  is a straight-A  student and is  ahead in                                                               
both math and  reading.  She said she wants  to continue with ACS                                                               
so she  can stay  ahead and  believes if ACS  is closed  she will                                                               
fall behind  and may have to  repeat ninth grade.   Ms. Bullchild                                                               
told the committee  that she has been going to  ACS for two years                                                               
and has  come to love  the program because  it is a  great school                                                               
for remedial and "super achievers."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0509                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MARY TONY testified  via teleconference in opposition  to HB 174.                                                               
She told  the committee that  ACS has experience,  knowledge, and                                                               
expertise.   Alyeska Central  School works.   She said  she knows                                                               
this because she  and three of her  siblings completed elementary                                                               
school through  ACS when a local  school closed due to  low class                                                               
size in the 1970s.  She said that  of the three of them, two have                                                               
college degrees, one  is a lawyer, and  one is both a  mayor in a                                                               
Bush community and  a school board member.  She  pointed out that                                                               
with many  other programs,  the money  will be  going out  of the                                                               
state and  she feels these funds  should be kept in  Alaska.  She                                                               
summarized by  asking if the  committee was discussing  any other                                                               
resource would they consider sending  state funds outside Alaska.                                                               
Ms. Tony urged the committee to  look closely at this program and                                                               
other programs.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0229                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  commented  that  Ms.  Tony  is  very  well                                                               
educated and asked  if she did the majority of  the teaching.  He                                                               
asked if she really just uses the curriculum.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. TONY  responded that she  does the majority of  the teaching;                                                               
however,  she  calls  ACS  as a  resource,  especially  when  her                                                               
daughter needs additional assistance.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked  if she uses the  curriculum and makes                                                               
a phone call when needed.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  TONY responded  that she  relies on  the teachers  and their                                                               
expertise.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0184                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  if she  has  met the  person on  the                                                               
other end of the phone.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. TONY responded  that she has not met the  teachers.  She said                                                               
that  the curriculum  is  Alaska-based.   For  example, she  said                                                               
biology deals  with Alaskan flora  and fauna.   She said  this is                                                               
what makes ACS unique.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO responded  that this  is not  the point  of                                                               
education; whether  it is or is  not Alaskan flora and  fauna, if                                                               
biology is  being taught  it is important  that her  daughter get                                                               
more  than just  some information.    He commented  that what  is                                                               
important in all of this is that  when she makes a call, she gets                                                               
a result.   He pointed out that it is  perfectly within her means                                                               
to add some information or  adapt the book.  Representative Gatto                                                               
said he  is trying to determine  if she likes ACS  because she is                                                               
used to it or because ACS truly  is so much better than any other                                                               
school and she can prove that.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON explained  that the  committee was  running out  of                                                               
time and others still want to testify.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0043                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER objected  to the  question's being  asked                                                               
without Ms. Tony having an opportunity to answer the question.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0020                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  TONY  summarized  her  view   that  with  ACS  she  has  the                                                               
confidence  that she  is there  teaching  her child  to meet  the                                                               
state requirements for her education.   The other programs do not                                                               
give her that confidence.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-30, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SHEILA SYMONS  testified via teleconference  in opposition  to HB
174.   She asked  the committee  to please listen  to all  of the                                                               
testimony that has come before  them.  Whether the testifiers are                                                               
rural or  urban, they are  all opposed to  this bill.   She asked                                                               
the committee  not to  pass this  bill and  pointed out  that the                                                               
state does not even have a  commissioner of education [in the new                                                               
administration yet].  Please do not pass this bill, she asked.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  announced  that  she   would  like  to  hear  from                                                               
individuals in  the audience who  have something to add  that the                                                               
committee has not already heard.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0126                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ALEXANDER  DOLITSKY, Ph.D.  testified before  the committee  as a                                                               
private  citizen, although  he  is a  social  studies teacher  at                                                               
Alyeska Central  School.  He  testified in opposition to  HB 174.                                                               
He  wanted the  members to  know  he is  on annual  leave and  is                                                               
speaking only  for himself.   He said  he has been  employed with                                                               
ACS since  1988 as a  summer school  teacher and then  for twelve                                                               
years as  a permanent full-time employee.   When he was  hired in                                                               
1990, the  enrollment was  800 students, and  over the  years the                                                               
enrollment has  fluctuated between  800 and  1,100 students.   In                                                               
1992 or  1993, when other correspondence  programs emerged, ACS's                                                               
enrollment decreased.  The ACS  parents understand what the other                                                               
programs offer.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0283                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR. DOLITSKY told the committee  he wanted to address information                                                               
that  was provided  by the  department.   He  commented that  the                                                               
teachers at  ACS are  not only writing  curriculum, but  they are                                                               
grading lessons, writing comments  and commentaries, taking calls                                                               
to discuss problems  or questions, and writing letters.   He said                                                               
he grades  between 30 and 35  lessons per week.   For three years                                                               
he taught Russian.  He said  he is under contract for 230 working                                                               
days per  year as a  senior teacher.   Those that are  not senior                                                               
teachers  are  under  contract  for   a  longer  number  days  of                                                               
vacation.   Summer school  hires 30  additional teachers,  and if                                                               
they do finish their work during  that time, it is the year-round                                                               
teachers  who do  the work.    Last year  he said  he graded  600                                                               
lessons in  addition to his  own work.  Any  other schoolteachers                                                               
in  school  districts have  contracts  for  186 days,  while  his                                                               
contract is  for 230 days.   He pointed out that  he works longer                                                               
hours for the same pay.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 0405                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR.  DOLITSKY told  the  committee  that 84  percent  of the  ACS                                                               
student population is  in urban areas.  He pointed  out that that                                                               
is consistent with  statewide demographics, as 16  percent of the                                                               
population in  Alaska lives in rural  areas.  He said  50 percent                                                               
of the students  live in Anchorage.  There are  459 students from                                                               
the Anchorage  area and nearly  440 students in all  other areas.                                                               
The proportion  is the same.   In summary, he said  almost anyone                                                               
can be a good teacher for a week,  but not everyone can be a good                                                               
teacher for  25 consecutive  years.  Every  school has  a success                                                               
story,  but  not  every  school   has  a  success  story  for  60                                                               
consecutive  years.   He  asked the  committee  not to  dismantle                                                               
something that cannot  be replaced easily.  He  commented that he                                                               
does not  want his daughter  or his students to  read Shakespeare                                                               
from a [computer],  but from a hard-cover book.   There is such a                                                               
thing  as  authenticity.   Dr.  Dolitsky  pointed out  that  some                                                               
programs come  and go and it  is not known what  will happen with                                                               
these schools.   He said he  is a teacher with  a master's degree                                                               
from Brown  University and a  Ph.D. from  Bryn Mahr College.   He                                                               
said ACS should be proud of the teachers and students it has.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0491                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  commented that  she was involved  with ACS                                                               
over 20  years ago  and it  was a  great program.   She  said she                                                               
helped to  create a  program for  a kid who  was told  by Capital                                                               
School that they did  not want him back.  She  said what she sees                                                               
in the  letters of support of  ACS many things that  have changed                                                               
and things she has never heard of, like classes on line.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0546                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DR.  DOLITSKY  responded that  there  are  19 classes  that  have                                                               
recently come on line.  He  said he does not teach those classes,                                                               
but a couple  of them are world history  and American government.                                                               
He said he  has recently written three courses.   The courses are                                                               
updated all the  time.  Dr. Dolitsky said he  often does meet his                                                               
students if they  go to Close-Up in Washington, D.C.   He pointed                                                               
out that some of his students  were winners in the Alaska History                                                               
Day competition.   One  student from Haines  won fourth  place in                                                               
the nation.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0594                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KAPSNER said  she noted  that Dr.  Dolitsky is  a                                                               
published author  and said few  schools can boast that  they have                                                               
published  authors on  their staff.    She asked  how many  other                                                               
teachers have published books.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
DR. DOLITSKY  said he  has published  eight books.   He  does not                                                               
know how  many other teachers  have published books;  however, he                                                               
does know other  teachers have written articles and  that ACS has                                                               
a remarkably qualified staff.  He  said he has taught college for                                                               
14 years at the University of Alaska Southeast.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 0672                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  called a recess  to the call  of the chair  at 4:50                                                               
p.m.  The committee reconvened at 5:00 p.m.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0685                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CECILIA  MILLER, Alyeska  Central  School Education  Association,                                                               
testified in  opposition to HB 174.   She told the  committee she                                                               
is a math and technology teacher  at ACS, but is testifying today                                                               
on behalf of  ACS Education Association.  As a  teacher, she said                                                               
she first  came to  work at  ACS as a  summer school  teacher and                                                               
found  that the  program  really addressed  at-risk kids'  needs.                                                               
For  these kids,  having someone  they can  call right  away when                                                               
they  have a  problem is  critical to  their success.   She  said                                                               
before she did  it, she could not imagine teaching  math over the                                                               
phone,  but found  that  she is  very  good at  it.   Ms.  Miller                                                               
explained  that she  teaches a  huge range  of classes  including                                                               
business and consumer math,  geometry, pre-calculus, and advanced                                                               
algebra,  both  on  line  and  print-based.   She  said  she  has                                                               
developed  some  of  the  courses   and  can  help  her  students                                                               
understand a difficult  class easily.  Teaching  these classes is                                                               
a tough job.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0855                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON commented  that whatever happens with  ACS, she will                                                               
assure  that   the  other  correspondence  schools   become  more                                                               
accountable.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MILLER responded that ACS  would not comment on whether other                                                               
correspondence schools  are accountable.   She said if  the other                                                               
schools  are  meeting   the  needs  of  students,   then  she  is                                                               
supportive of those  programs because not every  child learns the                                                               
same way.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0887                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked  what kinds of questions  are asked on                                                               
the phone.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. MILLER  responded that  most of her  day is  spent evaluating                                                               
student work,  but recently  she received a  call from  a student                                                               
from  Barrow  who  had  a  question  on  advanced  algebra  about                                                               
logarithms.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 0945                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN  SWEENEY, Special  Assistant, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of  Education  and Early  Development,  testified  in                                                               
support of HB 174 and  responded to questions from the committee.                                                               
He  said  he wanted  to  comment  on  the  two major  points  the                                                               
committee has  heard about today.   The first point is  the money                                                               
issue.   Many have argued that  this will not save  money, but in                                                               
fact will  cost the state money.   He said he  believes that most                                                               
of  the  students  currently  enrolled in  ACS  would  enroll  in                                                               
another  correspondence school  if ACS  were not  an option.   He                                                               
believes  that  some  of  the   testimony  heard  today  actually                                                               
supports that  claim.  A  lot of  these students said  they tried                                                               
their local public school  and it did not work for  them.  It was                                                               
not the  kind of  education they  were looking  for, and  they do                                                               
better in  a correspondence  type of program.   Mr.  Sweeney said                                                               
that  it is  the department's  opinion  that most  of these  kids                                                               
would go  to other correspondence  schools, which costs  the same                                                               
amount to the state as ACS does.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1017                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY told the committee  there is a significant savings in                                                               
the elimination of the summer  school.  Alyeska Central School is                                                               
the  only funded  summer school  in the  state.   Last year  this                                                               
school cost  $1.2 million.   There are also  significant facility                                                               
leasing savings  of $370,000 per year.   He said even  if some of                                                               
these students  do not go  into another correspondence  school, a                                                               
majority  of  them are  not  in  that $10,000-per-year-cost.    A                                                               
majority of  them are  in the urban  centers, where  ADM [average                                                               
daily  membership] [cost]  is $4,200.   He  said he  believes the                                                               
comparison  of $3,200  to  $10,000  is the  extreme  and not  the                                                               
normal occurrence.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1044                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY said  the second issue discussed today  was the issue                                                               
of   curriculum,   the  question   as   to   whether  the   other                                                               
correspondence schools offer the  same curricula that are offered                                                               
at ACS.  He said if  this bill passes, the department's exit plan                                                               
for ACS  is to  gather up  all the  curricula that  are currently                                                               
offered at ACS  and take that curricula and make  it available to                                                               
all the other  districts by putting it in "our"  library so it is                                                               
accessible.    The department  wants  to  work with  these  other                                                               
districts  to  assure  they  are   offering  different  types  of                                                               
curricula.   Other  districts  who  offer correspondence  classes                                                               
have  indicated  that should  the  curricula  be available,  they                                                               
would offer these classes and adapt  to the students' needs.  Mr.                                                               
Sweeney pointed  out that  it is  hard to  compare at  the moment                                                               
what is  going to  happen at  another correspondence  school when                                                               
ACS  is  not around.    These  other correspondence  schools  are                                                               
really in competition  for students, and it is  apparent in their                                                               
enrollment.   He  compared the  enrollment  of ACS  and the  IDEA                                                               
School out  of Galena.   While  ACS's enrollment  has fluctuated,                                                               
the  department  believes that  it  is  on the  decline,  whereas                                                               
Galena and other correspondence programs have been growing.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1080                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY said the department  believes as a policy decision it                                                               
is time to end the  centralized correspondence program run by the                                                               
state.   The  department  would rather  offer  assistance to  the                                                               
districts that have seen their  correspondence programs grow, and                                                               
offer  them  the  curricula  that  have  been  developed  in  the                                                               
statewide correspondence program and  meet the student's needs in                                                               
that way.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 1129                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  asked Mr. Sweeney, if  the department has                                                               
a program  that is growing, why  the state would want  to cut the                                                               
rug out from under it.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SWEENEY responded  that  the department  is  not asking  the                                                               
other correspondence schools  to change what they  are doing now.                                                               
What  the other  programs are  saying  is that  they will  expand                                                               
their curricula to  meet the needs of the students  they have now                                                               
- some schools  have 3,500 to 3,600 students -  but also meet the                                                               
needs of  the students coming in.   He summarized by  saying that                                                               
the department  is not  asking these programs  to do  a wholesale                                                               
change.   The schools have  expressed an interest in  making sure                                                               
they develop  the type  of program  that meets  the needs  of the                                                               
students who would have chosen ACS, had it been available.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER said she is  confused by this policy.  She                                                               
used the  example of  a private business  where the  most popular                                                               
business  in town  is shutdown  so the  other stores  will get  a                                                               
share of  the business.   She pointed  out that the  most popular                                                               
store  is popular  for a  reason, so  why close  it down  for the                                                               
benefit of stores that are not doing as well.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON commented that if it  were the most popular, then it                                                               
would have the most clients.  In the case of ACS, it does not.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1215                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA asked  what happens  to the  students that                                                               
the committee  heard from who  this year really depend  upon this                                                               
program because of accreditation.   She said her understanding is                                                               
that  ACS is  the only  accredited correspondence  school in  the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1240                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  SWEENEY responded  that if  a  student were  to transfer  to                                                               
Galena  School, where  an  accreditation is  in  process and  the                                                               
school  has been  given a  temporary  accreditation, the  student                                                               
would in fact  be graduating from an accredited school.   He also                                                               
suggested  that if  accreditation is  extremely important  to the                                                               
student, there  is always the option  of going back to  the local                                                               
district to finish the last year.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  pointed  out  that  the  committee  heard                                                               
testimony  that attending  public school  was totally  impossible                                                               
for some  students.  She said  these students have a  really good                                                               
reason for not being in public  school.  It is not something that                                                               
is casually done.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1285                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON asked  how many  of the  schools that  are                                                               
doing  correspondence programs  now are  just Internet-based  and                                                               
how many are U.S. mail-based.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 1309                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JEANS responded  that the  only school  that is  100 percent                                                               
Internet-based is the Delta/Greely School.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  asked if  there are  any others  that use                                                               
the mail system.  [No response was given to this question.]                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO asked  how many  schools provide  books for                                                               
students to read.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1350                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DEBBIE CHALMERS,  Teacher, Alyeska  Central School,  testified in                                                               
opposition  to  HB  174  and  responded  to  questions  from  the                                                               
committee.   She explained that  ACS provides books  to students.                                                               
It is her  understanding that the other  programs provide parents                                                               
with  stipends;   with  those  funds,  the   parents  can  obtain                                                               
educational  materials,  educational opportunities,  or  learning                                                               
experiences.   In response to Representative  Gatto's question as                                                               
to  whether  ACS  offers  the   same  choices  to  students,  she                                                               
responded that ACS does offer the same choices.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1372                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  commented   that  when  the  Delta/Greely                                                               
superintendent  testified  before  the  committee,  he  said  the                                                               
school could accommodate 200 students,  but that they really only                                                               
serviced   college-preparatory   classes  or   advanced-placement                                                               
students.   He  asked if  there  is an  effectiveness rating  for                                                               
those students who are not  in those groups, for instance, groups                                                               
who would be labeled as at-risk or special-needs students.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY asked  Representative Seaton if he  would clarify the                                                               
question.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON  replied  that  he is  trying  to  make  a                                                               
comparison among  different correspondence  schools.  He  said he                                                               
knows  that  correspondence  schools  are not  equivalent.    His                                                               
concern is  for children in  his district that  are special-needs                                                               
students.  For example, he had  a student who is autistic and was                                                               
not  able  to  function  well in  some  of  these  correspondence                                                               
schools, but was  able to do well  at ACS.  He said  he is trying                                                               
to figure  out if there  is any  kind of Department  of Education                                                               
and  Early  Development rating  of  how  well the  correspondence                                                               
schools do in providing services to special-needs students.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY  said he  does not  know if  the department  has ever                                                               
done a rating  system on all correspondence schools.   He said he                                                               
does not  believe the department has  ever even done a  rating on                                                               
ACS's ability to provide that service.   He said he would have to                                                               
look into  what the other  correspondence programs have  to offer                                                               
special-needs students.   The district programs would  have to be                                                               
looked  at also  to  see  what they  might  offer.   Mr.  Sweeney                                                               
clarified that  there has  been discussion  of only  11 statewide                                                               
correspondence  programs and  that  number does  not include  the                                                               
districts' correspondence  programs that only serve  students who                                                               
live in  their districts.   He  pointed out  that there  are more                                                               
choices than  just the 11 mentioned.   For example, in  Kenai for                                                               
the  last  four  or  five years,  the  district's  correspondence                                                               
program went  from less than 100  students up to 400  students in                                                               
its program.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1500                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  commented  to   Representative  Seaton  that  some                                                               
families  use  out-of-state   correspondence  programs  as  well.                                                               
There are  a large variety  of correspondence programs  to choose                                                               
from  and  a  huge  number  of  students  that  are  enrolled  in                                                               
correspondence programs.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON responded  that  his  purpose in  bringing                                                               
this issue  up is  that he  has received a  number a  letters and                                                               
testimony  from  families  whose  children  would  be  considered                                                               
special-needs  students,  whether it  was  because  of autism  or                                                               
whether the  students needed to  be in school year-round  so that                                                               
they would not fall behind.   He said the comparisons are not the                                                               
same; this is not dealing with  apples and apples, but apples and                                                               
oranges.  He said he is trying  to find out the impact on at-risk                                                               
students.  He  wants to know if there is  something special about                                                               
ACS.  He asked if there is any empirical data for that.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1565                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY commented  on an earlier point  that Delta/Greely had                                                               
said that it  is prepared to absorb about 200  students.  He said                                                               
that   full-time   enrollment   at   ACS   is   approaching   700                                                               
[approximately  670]  students.    In a  Juneau  Empire  article,                                                             
Galena said that  it can absorb 1,000 to 1,500  more students and                                                               
that it  also is  ready to  develop a program  that has  the same                                                               
amount of teacher involvement to accommodate the students.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. SWEENEY also commented with  regard to curriculum development                                                               
that there  is a  consortium of  school districts  through Alaska                                                               
On-Line,  which  includes  the Mat-Su,  Kenai,  and  Delta/Greely                                                               
[districts]  that are  in  the process  of  developing their  own                                                               
curriculum.   Alyeska Central  School is a  part of  that program                                                               
and other districts  may join on.  They have  been in the process                                                               
of developing  curricula and will  continue to  develop curricula                                                               
that are focused on the idea  of correspondence study.  It is not                                                               
fair to  say that ACS  holds the market on  developing curricula.                                                               
There are other districts that are doing it as well.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 1659                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JOHN   ALCANTRA,  Government   Relations  Director,   NEA-Alaska,                                                               
testified  in opposition  to HB  174 and  responded to  questions                                                               
from  the committee.    He  pointed out  to  the  members of  the                                                               
committee that  ACS has  a highly qualified  faculty in  place in                                                               
the core  content areas  that meet the  requirements of  NCLB [No                                                               
Child Left  Behind].   Another important fact  that has  not been                                                               
mentioned  is that  ACS could  provide supplemental  services for                                                               
the NCLB  that other correspondence  programs could  not provide.                                                               
Alyeska Central School can also  provide high school programs for                                                               
teacher's aides  and educational support professionals  that will                                                               
have  to meet  the qualifications  of President  Bush's No  Child                                                               
Left Behind Act.   Some aides have to complete  their high school                                                               
diplomas, and some need additional  course work, up to 60 college                                                               
credits beyond that,  in order to keep their  jobs as educational                                                               
support professionals.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON questioned  that none  of the  other correspondence                                                               
schools could do that.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ALCANTRA  replied  that  is  correct.   None  of  the  other                                                               
programs can do that.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  asked if  that  is  because of  the  accreditation                                                               
issue.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.   ALCANTRA   responded  that   it   is   partly  because   of                                                               
accreditation and  partly because  ACS has been  in place  for 60                                                               
years, compared with a school that  has been in place five years.                                                               
These other schools just have not gotten there yet.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. ALCANTRA said  that ACS existed before  statehood, before oil                                                               
pipelines, and  before the  first Alaska  State Legislature.   He                                                               
said  ACS needs  to  exist after  the  Twenty-Third Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature.   Mr.  Alcantra asked  that the  committee hold  the                                                               
bill because,  as has  been seen  in the  overwhelming testimony,                                                               
this idea  has not been thought  through.  Please do  not rush to                                                               
judgment on this, he urged.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1777                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked  what the age requirement is  for enrolling in                                                               
ACS.  She commented that most  high schools do not permit someone                                                               
over 21 years of age to attend.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. ALCANTRA  responded that age  would not  be a factor  under a                                                               
program created for program providers.  He said he is not sure.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 1805                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. MILLER told  the committee that statute says  any Alaskan can                                                               
go to  ACS as  a tuition-program  student who  wants to  obtain a                                                               
high school diploma.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked how many  teachers will no  longer be                                                               
employed with ACS if this legislation passes.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. ALCANTRA said the number of teachers at ACS is 26.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  asked if these  teachers are  all certified                                                               
and if there is a demand  for certified teachers elsewhere in the                                                               
state.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. ALCANTRA  said he does  not know  specifically if there  is a                                                               
demand for the 26 teachers at ACS.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  inquired if  the  26  teachers were  under                                                               
contract for the FY 04 public school year.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. ALCANTRA replied that is  correct.  These teachers' contracts                                                               
will be ending  at the end of  the school year.   In some places,                                                               
that will  be just  about the same  time the  legislative session                                                               
ends.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1881                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHALMERS told  the committee she is a  fifth- and sixth-grade                                                               
teacher  at  ACS  and  wanted  to offer  her  perspective  as  an                                                               
educator.   She said she  has been a  teacher since 1992  and did                                                               
not even  know the program  existed until she walked  through the                                                               
door.  Since she has been at ACS,  she has gained a great deal in                                                               
working with  parents.   When she started  teaching in  1976, she                                                               
had heard a lot about the  home school partnership.  She said she                                                               
does  not  think she  has  seen  that partnership  more  actively                                                               
engaged than  through the  ACS program.   Alyeska  Central School                                                               
works directly with students and parents, and does it well.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1941                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CHALMERS said  ACS curricula  are  not stagnant.   If  these                                                               
programs  are distributed  to districts,  the teachers  would not                                                               
use the print-based  lesson plan to teach.  It  is like using the                                                               
same  lesson plan  book every  year.   She said  she updates  her                                                               
curriculum continually  and integrates a variety  of supplemental                                                               
materials with  her teaching.  She  provides online opportunities                                                               
for  students through  the  Jason Project,  which  is a  science-                                                               
oriented    curriculum,   and    through   National    Geographic                                                               
Experiential and Adventures in On-Line  Quests, as the student is                                                               
learning  about the  world around  them.   There are  also online                                                               
book discussions and book clubs.   Ms. Chalmers said she connects                                                               
her  students through  these opportunities,  some through  online                                                               
and some through  the print-based curriculum.  This  results in a                                                               
level of expertise  and enthusiasm, as a teacher  does not travel                                                               
with the curriculum.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 2037                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHALMERS  shared an experience  she recently had with  a home                                                               
schoolteacher in Karluk.   She said he is  not a paraprofessional                                                               
yet,  but  hopes  to  be  and he  is  very  concerned  about  his                                                               
students.  He said he  really appreciates the teacher support ACS                                                               
provides, because the stand-alone curriculum does not do that.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON commented  that Ms. Chalmers has the  qualities of a                                                               
very good teacher.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said he  thinks  Ms.  Chalmers is  bright,                                                               
educated,  and  obviously  experienced.   He  asked,  if  ACS  is                                                               
eliminated,  what  will happen  to  her  students and  what  will                                                               
happen to her.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. CHALMERS  said that  in Karluk  the parents  did not  feel it                                                               
would be an option to  go to the district correspondence program.                                                               
She said she does not know  what will happen to all the students.                                                               
Because of  declining numbers of  students, the state has  had to                                                               
close  schools  and  there  will be  a  need  for  correspondence                                                               
education.   One  ninth  grader in  Karluk  is considering  Mount                                                               
Edgecumbe  as an  option or  possibly going  back to  Kodiak High                                                               
School.   He is not  considering going to  another correspondence                                                               
program.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2099                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  commented that  this discussion  could go                                                               
on and on.  He believes the point has already been made.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO disagreed.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON announced  that she  would close  testimony on  the                                                               
bill at this time.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 2106                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  moved to report  HB 174 out  of committee                                                               
with  individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  fiscal                                                               
notes.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2112                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER objected.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL  said he  believes this  is a  policy call                                                               
and is  not intended to  show any  disrespect to the  teachers or                                                               
the history  of ACS.   He  said he believes  there has  been some                                                               
wonderful  work and  good curriculum  development,  and that  the                                                               
students have educational  needs.  He does not  disagree with the                                                               
testimony that has been given.   Representative Coghill said that                                                               
getting the students'  needs met has been an  issue the committee                                                               
has struggled  with for many years.   The policy call  he sees is                                                               
whether   the  legislature   should   give   the  districts   the                                                               
responsibility  of meeting  these needs.   There  are a  group of                                                               
people who  are getting  special help from  the state  outside of                                                               
the districts they live in.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL said  he believes  the districts  need to                                                               
take the responsibility.   There are 135,000  students in Alaska,                                                               
and this represents  1,080 students.  The  districts are stepping                                                               
up with  cyber schools.   This  is a way  to get  those districts                                                               
reconnected  to  the  students,   whether  it  is  excellence  in                                                               
education, teacher  certification, or culturally  relevant issues                                                               
that are  important to  those areas.   The  policy call  has been                                                               
made by  the governor,  and Representative  Coghill stated  he is                                                               
going to support  him.  He said this is  a tough decision because                                                               
he  likes educational  choices,  but  he believes  it  is a  good                                                               
policy decision.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2243                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
A  roll call  vote  was taken.    Representatives Wilson,  Gatto,                                                               
Wolf,  and  Coghill voted  in  favor  of  reporting HB  174  from                                                               
committee.   Representatives  Seaton, Cissna,  and Kapsner  voted                                                               
against  it.   Therefore,  HB  174 was  reported  from the  House                                                               
Health,  Education and  Social Services  Standing Committee  by a                                                               
vote of 4-3.                                                                                                                    

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