Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/17/2010 08:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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08:00:31 AM Start
08:01:00 AM SB224
08:57:15 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Heard & Held
               SB 224-POSTSECONDARY SCHOLARSHIPS                                                                            
8:01:00 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER  announced consideration  of SB  224. He  said the                                                               
intent  is  to   work  through  the  five   remaining  points  of                                                               
consideration and  come up with  a clean  CS by Friday.  He added                                                               
that Diane Barrans  has brought up a sixth point  that also needs                                                               
to  be   considered,  in  regards  to   capping  the  needs-based                                                               
8:03:01 AM                                                                                                                    
JOMO STEWART, aide  to Senator to Meyer, said  the members should                                                               
have an updated handout of  the points for consideration that was                                                               
provided to the committee at  the previous meeting. Included with                                                               
the  handout are  the differences  between  the senate  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS) to  SB 224[26-GS2771\S]  and  the House  version                                                               
First,  in regards  to non-traditional  students,  the senate  CS                                                               
does  not   include  the  six   month  proviso   for  scholarship                                                               
eligibility, which means that there  are no restrictions for when                                                               
potential graduates may apply for  the program. The House version                                                               
does have  the six  month proviso  so that  presumptive graduates                                                               
may not prematurely apply for  the scholarship program. The House                                                               
version also sets  a definitive window of six years  for how long                                                               
a scholarship recipient has to  use their award, while the senate                                                               
CS does  not. Finally, the  senate CS  has a 12  semester maximum                                                               
count while the House version has an eight semester maximum.                                                                    
8:05:39 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS said he has come  to terms with the fact that the                                                               
goals  of  the  bill  are  not  compatible  with  non-traditional                                                               
SENATOR THOMAS  said he tends  to agree with Senator  Stevens; he                                                               
would be interested  in moving the bill forward  without the non-                                                               
traditional component.                                                                                                          
CO-CHAIR MEYER  said he  too supports this  section of  the House                                                               
MURRAY RICHMOND, aide to Senator  Thomas, said that in the senate                                                               
CS  there is  no  differentiation between  the  academic and  the                                                               
career track;  the House  CS does  have this  differentiation. In                                                               
the House CS,  career scholars can only use  their scholarship to                                                               
go  to  a  career  school.  The  tuition  for  the  career  track                                                               
scholarship  is  also  capped  at  $3000.00  while  the  academic                                                               
scholarship's tuition is set at  the average University of Alaska                                                               
(UA) tuition  for the year  2010/2011. The senate CS  would allow                                                               
students to go  to either a career or an  academic school and the                                                               
award would be set to UA's tuition.                                                                                             
CO-CHAIR  MEYER said  the question  now before  the committee  is                                                               
whether  to retain  the two  separate tracks  or keep  the single                                                               
track as laid out by the senate CS.                                                                                             
SENATOR  HUGGINS said  he would  like  to see  students have  the                                                               
built in  flexibility to cross  over to either track  and receive                                                               
like funding. He  would also like to consider  Ms. Barran's point                                                               
about  placing a  cap provision  on the  needs-based part  of the                                                               
8:11:29 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON joined the meeting.                                                                                               
SENATOR DAVIS  said, regarding the  career track, it says  that a                                                               
student can use ACT, SAT  or WorkKeys for eligibility. She thinks                                                               
students  should have  to take  either the  ACT or  SAT but  that                                                               
WorkKeys  is  not  appropriate   to  determine  preparedness  for                                                               
LARRY  LEDOUX, Commissioner,  Department of  Education and  Early                                                               
Development (DEED), said the bill  does not specifically identify                                                               
the ACT or  the SAT and either can be  used. The WorkKeys applies                                                               
only  to the  career and  technical scholarship,  and is  a works                                                               
well as  a test for  individuals who are  choosing to go  in this                                                               
direction. In the House version  it states that students applying                                                               
for the  career and  technical scholarship  are required  to take                                                               
either  a  college entrance  exam  or  another standardized  test                                                               
[page 9, lines 24-26].                                                                                                          
SENATOR  STEVENS  said  they  haven't  talked  a  lot  about  the                                                               
WorkKeys  exam.  One  thing  that   he  has  heard  from  various                                                               
industries is that  they want to have students who  are as up-to-                                                               
date on math  and writing skills as those on  a college track. He                                                               
asked Commissioner LeDoux to explain the WorkKeys test.                                                                         
COMMISSIONER LEDOUX explained that  it measures technical reading                                                               
and writing. He  thinks the SAT or ACT would  work for both; they                                                               
would like to see the WorkKeys  used by industry across the state                                                               
because they think  there is a direct  reflection between WorkKey                                                               
scores  and  an  individual's  work or  college  performance.  It                                                               
doesn't measure  soft skills  such as  the ability  to work  as a                                                               
team or be on time. He  pointed out that the career and technical                                                               
scholarship  would  still require  students  to  take a  rigorous                                                               
SENATOR THOMAS  suggested that just  getting to school  every day                                                               
and  on  time should  ingrain  some  of  these soft  skills  into                                                               
COMMISSIONER LEDOUX answered that  research indicates that is not                                                               
the case. Individuals learn those  skills from part-time jobs and                                                               
in activities such as band, choir, and sports.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR MEYER said that being  that there were no other comments                                                               
on  item two  he  took that  to  mean that  the  committee is  in                                                               
concurrence with the house version on that particular item.                                                                     
8:18:06 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  STEWART continued  on to  item 3  which involves  the intent                                                               
language.  In the  Senate CS,  he said,  they have  extracted the                                                               
intent language; the  House version has not.  He reminded members                                                               
of the discussion  with Jean Mischel of Legislative  Legal at the                                                               
last meeting,  who cautioned that  having the goals  included the                                                               
bill  could make  them more  actionable in  court if  these goals                                                               
were  not met.  He suggested  having the  goals go  alongside the                                                               
bill as a letter of intent.                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER agreed  that it seems best to retain  the goals in                                                               
a letter of  intent to be submitted next to  the bill, instead of                                                               
within it.  He asked Mr.  Stewart to review the  additional goals                                                               
and  changes  that the  committee  had  added  to the  letter  of                                                               
MR. STEWART said  that the following two items were  added to the                                                               
letter of intent:                                                                                                               
     4. providing a rigorous curriculum in all high schools                                                                     
     in the state                                                                                                               
       10. increasing participation of Alaska high school                                                                       
     graduates in Alaska postsecondary institutions.                                                                            
The  other additional  change  to  the letter  of  intent was  to                                                               
divide  item number  two  and three,  which  had previously  been                                                               
written as one statement.                                                                                                       
SENATOR  STEVENS   asked  if  Mr.  Stewart   was  comfortable  in                                                               
addressing one  of the overall  goals of getting students  in and                                                               
out of college early in the letter of intent.                                                                                   
MR. STEWART  answered that the  letter of intent  was reorganized                                                               
from the  way they  had been  presented in  the original  bill so                                                               
that the postsecondary language is  listed on top before the high                                                               
school  reform  language. He  did  not  include the  more  direct                                                               
language Senator Stevens had inquired about.                                                                                    
MR.  RICHMOND  said they  could  add  a  goal with  more  pointed                                                               
language  within the  letter  of intent  of  the committee  would                                                               
CO-CHAIR MEYER  said they will give  this some more thought  at a                                                               
later time. He suggested they look next at the name of the bill.                                                                
SENATOR DAVIS asked  Senator Meyer if he has a  sense for how the                                                               
House will respond to removing the goals out of the bill.                                                                       
CO-CHAIR  MEYER said  that  he  has not  spoken  directly to  the                                                               
chairman of  the House Education  Committee but because  they all                                                               
use the same leg legal, he  thinks they will be in agreement once                                                               
they hear the justification and rational behind it.                                                                             
8:24:26 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  STEWART continued  with  item  4, which  was  to rename  the                                                               
scholarship.  The scholarship  has been  known as  the Governor's                                                               
Performance Scholarship (GPS)  and it was suggested to  make it a                                                               
more  politically   neutral  free   title.  The   Alaska  Student                                                               
Achievement Program (ASAP) scholarship was suggested.                                                                           
SENATOR STEVENS said he recognizes  and appreciates the fact that                                                               
the  governor  introduced  this issue  and  brought  it  forward.                                                               
However, the  legislature has changed the  bill significantly and                                                               
he  is not  sure that  naming  it the  governor's scholarship  in                                                               
perpetuity is  not a  reflection of  what it  truly is.  It seems                                                               
that it is better to have a title that is statewide.                                                                            
SENATOR HUGGINS said he agrees with Senator Stevens.                                                                            
CO-CHAIR MEYER also agreed that  this is the state's program, not                                                               
the governor's or the legislature's.                                                                                            
SENATOR  DAVIS said  she does  not have  a problem  with the  new                                                               
suggested  title  but  asked  whether   they  have  received  the                                                               
administration's thoughts on this.                                                                                              
COMMISSIONER  LEDOUX answered  that  the administration  supports                                                               
the GPS title.  It fits what they  are trying to do  and it gives                                                               
kids direction, so the acronym  fits very well. They also believe                                                               
that it is  important that kids see the governor  as caring about                                                               
them and acknowledging the program as important.                                                                                
8:29:38 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  moved a  conceptual amendment  that the  name be                                                               
changed to "Alaska Student Achievement Program (ASAP)."                                                                         
SENATOR DAVIS  said she  has no  problem with  the change  of the                                                               
title as  long as it will  not cause any problems  with the other                                                               
SENATOR  OLSON agreed  with Senator  Davis  and he  is fine  with                                                               
either title. One  of the advantages of keeping the  GPS title is                                                               
that the governor  might be more willing to support  and push the                                                               
bill through.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  STEVENS said  the easy  part is  writing this  bill. The                                                               
hard part is  getting the money to  pay for it. He  would like to                                                               
see  $400 million  put  aside,  but he  doesn't  think that  will                                                               
happen; he thinks  it will come to a year-by-year  funding by the                                                               
legislature. The ASAP  title may keep the scholarship  out of any                                                               
future  disagreements due  to  acrimonious  feelings between  the                                                               
legislature and the governor. He  also thinks that the Senate has                                                               
been very cooperative with the House  in going with most of their                                                               
issues and he does think this will be a contentious issue.                                                                      
SENATOR OLSON agreed with Senator Steven's point.                                                                               
CO-CHAIR MEYER said they will go  with the more neutral title. He                                                               
asked Mr. Stewart to continue on with item five.                                                                                
MR. STEWART  said that the  transitional language in both  the CS                                                               
and the  House version might  allow students to  delay graduation                                                               
to  become eligible  for the  scholarship. The  CS and  the House                                                               
version  effectively limit  application eligibility  for students                                                               
graduating  in 2011.  He suggested  amending the  CS to  directly                                                               
allow June 2010 graduates to qualify for the scholarship.                                                                       
MR. RICHMOND added that currently  the effective date of the bill                                                               
is September 1, 2010.                                                                                                           
SENATOR DAVIS  said she was  seeking to include the  graduates of                                                               
2010 by  allowing them to  apply for  the scholarship but  not to                                                               
have the  access to the  scholarship until the effective  date of                                                               
the bill in 2011, when funding would be available.                                                                              
CO-CHAIR  MEYER  clarified  that  Senator Davis  wants  the  2010                                                               
graduates to  be included  in the  scholarship program,  but they                                                               
may  not receive  the money  until after  their freshman  year in                                                               
college. He asked the administration to help them on this issue.                                                                
COMMISSIONER  LEDOUX responded  that there  are several  concerns                                                               
that need to be considered. One  is the sense of fairness. If the                                                               
scholarship is offered  to the class of 2010,  some students will                                                               
say that  they do not  qualify for  the program because  they did                                                               
not  know  the  requirements  when   they  were  selecting  their                                                               
classes. The only way they could really  do it is to wait for the                                                               
class  of  2010 to  complete  their  first  year of  college  and                                                               
evaluate their performance  at that time to see  if they qualify.                                                               
This would be possible, but very difficult.                                                                                     
SENATOR DAVIS  clarified that he is  saying that a senior  of the                                                               
graduating  class of  2010 would  be  eligible to  apply for  the                                                               
scholarship as of their second year of college.                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  LEDOUX reiterated  that  the only  fair  way is  to                                                               
evaluate those students'  first year of college,  set up criteria                                                               
for qualification  based on  that and then  allow them  to apply.                                                               
That  way all  students of  the  2010 class  that attend  college                                                               
would have the opportunity.                                                                                                     
8:40:25 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER said  he can see the commissioner's  point, but he                                                               
also understands Senator  Davis' concern. They have  heard from a                                                               
number  of  parents  who  are  following  this  legislation  very                                                               
closely and would like their children to have the opportunity.                                                                  
SENATOR  DAVIS said  she  still  thinks they  should  be able  to                                                               
capture those  in the class of  2010 that are prepared.  If he is                                                               
saying that those students can  come back and qualify after their                                                               
first year  of college,  then they  need to  add language  to the                                                               
bill to specifically allow for that.                                                                                            
SENATOR HUGGINS said  he agrees with Senator Davis.  The class of                                                               
2011 is not going to be  entirely prepared either. The 2010 class                                                               
should  not be  penalized  because these  standards  were not  in                                                               
place at the  time. He believes that the class  of 2010 should be                                                               
able to apply retroactively.                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  asked, looking at  the students in the  class of                                                               
2010,  is there  anything  else they  will be  losing  out on  in                                                               
regards to the scholarship by apply retroactively.                                                                              
COMMISSIONER LEDOUX  responded that  he believes they  would have                                                               
to  make  some adjustments  throughout  the  bill to  accommodate                                                               
this.  It can  be done  simply or  in a  more complex  manner. In                                                               
regards to the  eligibility of the class of 2010  the easiest way                                                               
would  be to  require that  these students  complete their  first                                                               
year of college  in order to qualify. If the  committee asks them                                                               
to make those changes, they will certainly do that.                                                                             
SENATOR  THOMAS  said his  only  concern  is  that, any  time  an                                                               
exception  is  made it  opens  the  door  for requests  for  more                                                               
exception.   An example of  this could be students  who graduated                                                               
early in December of 2009.                                                                                                      
DIANE   BARRANS,  Executive   Director,   Alaska  Commission   of                                                               
Postsecondary  Education (ACPE),  said  that  if the  legislature                                                               
decides  to include  the class  of 2010  they will  just have  to                                                               
concede  that it  will  not be  a level  playing  field for  that                                                               
class.  Those whose  parents are  more  savvy and  kept track  of                                                               
legislation may  have prepared their  children to  take advantage                                                               
of  the opportunity.  There are  going to  be winners  and losers                                                               
because there has not been equal disclosure.                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MEYER  assumed this  would apply  to those  applying for                                                               
the career and technical scholarship as well.                                                                                   
8:47:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON  asked how they will  be able to fund  the students                                                               
in 2010 without  using the corpus of the endowment  that is meant                                                               
to fund the program for years to come.                                                                                          
COMMISSIONER LEDOUX replied that for  the funding of this program                                                               
to  work students  would not  be  eligible to  receive the  funds                                                               
until the fall of 2011. The  amount of funding needed will depend                                                               
on how many students apply. He  suggested that one purpose of the                                                               
scholarship  is to  provide opportunities  for children  who have                                                               
not been  successful previously  and he  is concerned  that these                                                               
are  the  children that  will  not  have  the knowledge  to  take                                                               
advantage of this opportunity at this time.                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MEYER  said he thinks committee's  policy statement will                                                               
be to  try to  capture the 2010  students. The  Finance Committee                                                               
will  have to  decide  how to  fund it.  He  thinks the  approach                                                               
suggested by  Senator Huggins' will  work the best.  He continued                                                               
by asking Ms. Barrans to explain item six with the committee.                                                                   
8:51:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BARRANS  said,  as  they   discussed  previously,  there  is                                                               
language in  the bill  regarding students  who are  enrolled less                                                               
than  full  time.  They  had   agreed  to  cap  the  merit  based                                                               
scholarship  for students  that are  less  than full  time to  50                                                               
percent of the award they  would otherwise receive. However, they                                                               
failed  to  set a  similar  cap  on the  needs-based  performance                                                               
award. On page 12, lines 8-9,  of the senate CS, she suggests new                                                               
language be added  on a similar cap that  students attending half                                                               
time  would be  capped 25  percent  of the  unmet financial  need                                                               
(with full time students receiving 50 percent).                                                                                 
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  if  Ms.  Barrans could  run  a couple  of                                                               
scenarios for them to look at.                                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR MEYER said they will make  that change but will look for                                                               
Ms. Barrans to bring them that information on Friday.                                                                           
SENATOR HUGGINS thanked Ms. Barrans  for her research and answers                                                               
to  his questions  on  the Department  of  Military and  Veterans                                                               
Affairs (DMVA). He  said rather than holding the bill  up in this                                                               
committee  he  will  wait  until  the  bill  enters  the  Finance                                                               
Committee  to  introduce an  amendment  that  will give  students                                                               
incentive to enter into certain needed disciplines in the state.                                                                
CO-CHAIR MEYER  recapped what  they have decided  to do  with the                                                               
six items that were up for  consideration and what the changes to                                                               
the new CS will look like. He  mentioned that he will not be able                                                               
to attend the meeting on Friday.                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS  said he  won't be  able to  make the  meeting on                                                               
Friday either. The other members said they intend to be here.                                                                   
CO-CHAIR MEYER  said that the  committee will  try to take  up HB
110 on Friday. [SB 224 was held in committee.]                                                                                  
8:57:15 AM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Co-Chair Meyer adjourned the meeting at 8:57 a.m.                                                                               

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