Legislature(2013 - 2014)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/17/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION
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SB 100-EDUCATION GRANTS; CORRS STUDY; ALLOTMENTS 8:33:22 AM CHAIR STEVENS announced the consideration of SB 100, version G. SHEILA PETERSON, Staff, Senator Mike Dunleavy, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, reviewed the changes in version G of SB 100 on behalf of the sponsor. She related that version G ensures that the individual learning plan (ILP) would be created with the assistance and approval of a certified teacher, parent, and child. Added in version G are the following provisions: that the progress of the student would be monitored by the teacher and the vendors would be non-sectarian - public, private, or religious organizations; textbook selection would have to follow the same criteria that public schools use; once a student left the correspondence program, any unexpended allotment monies would return to the district; and a family member who is helping with instruction could not be reimbursed by the allotment fund. 8:35:45 AM CHAIR STEVENS asked for the definition of "family members." MS. PETERSON said family members are "the student's spouse, guardian, parent, step-parent, sibling, step-sibling, grandparent, step-grandparent, child, uncle, or aunt." CHAIR STEVENS asked if there are any constitutional issues regarding SB 100. He asked about allowing vendors to be religious institutions. SENATOR DUNLEAVY said many home schools employ vendors approved by the school district for the purpose of supporting a public ILP. Vendors can be private individuals, such as those that have business licenses or are tutors. The important point is that the coursework is being purchased for the support of a public ILP. He maintained that constitutionality is difficult to define because one must almost have a court action to determine that. He provided an example in the bill previously passed by the committee. He understood that if the purchasing of a course or a service supports a public IEP, it should not be a problem. He opined that people can sue for any reason at any time to test a law. 8:38:55 AM SENATOR GARDNER agreed that one never knows until someone takes it to court. She stated, however, that her office has a constitutional opinion that SB 100 does not violate the constitution. SENATOR STEDMAN asked who has that opinion. SENATOR GARDNER said her office. CHAIR STEVENS asked the Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) to respond. 8:40:06 AM SUSAN MCCAULEY, Ph.D., Director, Teaching and Learning Support, Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), Juneau, Alaska, answered questions related to SB 195. She said that quite a few of the provisions in SB 100 mirror elements that are currently in regulation regarding correspondence study school programs. The additions in version G track closely with regulations, particularly on page 4, line 24, with regard to textbooks, services, and other curriculum materials. She said the changes reflect on-going conversations between the department and the sponsor. SENATOR GARDNER read on page 4, line 10, section (b), "Notwithstanding another provision of law, the department may not impose additional requirements, other than the requirements specified under (a) of this section and under AS 14.03.320, on a student who is proficient or advanced on statewide assessments required under AS 14.03.123(f)." She asked whether there are additional requirements that might be imposed. DR. MCCAULEY explained that currently in regulation there are some restrictions regarding the use of allotment funds, such as for gym membership and family travel. In previous conversations there were questions whether or not the language just referenced would restrict the department from monitoring whether a student used an allotment to pay for services provided by a family member. That language has now been added to the bill. Those are two examples that would fall under "imposing additional requirements" and would be at odds when a student is proficient. SENATOR GARDNER understood that a student enrolled in a program under this bill might be able to use allotment funds for travel and for a gym membership. DR. MCCAULEY said yes. She understood that those would be permitted and are not restricted and would fall under a broad category of "imposing additional requirements" when a student is proficient. 8:44:00 AM SENATOR GARDNER said yet services and materials would have to be a part of the ILP and from an approved vendor. DR. MCCAULEY said correct. There is language that says services must be for an instructional purpose and connected to an ILP. There are still safeguards that ensure allotment funds are to support instruction and have an approval process. CHAIR STEVENS asked where that language is found in the bill. DR. MCCAULEY said it is on page 4, line 15, of the original bill. SENATOR DUNLEAVY opined that the bill has more safeguards than current K - 12 schools have. It focuses on the ILP and outcomes. 8:46:24 AM CHAIR STEVENS asked where it says, "must be used for instructional purposes." SENATOR DUNLEAVY replied that it is on page 4, lines 17 and 30. SENATOR GARDNER said on page 4, lines 14 and on. CHAIR STEVENS maintained that he sees the wording "instructional expenses", not "instructional purposes." MS. PETERSON pointed to page 4, line 16, and page 4, line 30; it must support a public purpose - the education of the child. CHAIR STEVENS opened public testimony. 8:49:30 AM PETE LEWIS, Superintendent, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Fairbanks, Alaska, testified in support of SB 100. He said the 80/20 match, innovative learning grants, and one-to-one funding will be beneficial to school districts. He mentioned support for correspondence study program funding. He requested a phase-in approach to the 1 percent funding ratio. CHAIR STEVENS closed public testimony. SENATOR DUNLEAVY moved to report CSSSSB 100 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. There being no objection, CSSSSB 100 (EDC) was reported from the Senate Education Standing Committee.