Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

03/21/2019 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

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              SB   6-PRE-ELEMENTARY PROGRAMS/FUNDING                                                                        
9:54:41 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR STEVENS announced the consideration of SB 6. He noted his                                                                 
intent hold the bill in committee after discussion and public                                                                   
9:55:03 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR TOM BEGICH, sponsor of SB 6, introduced the bill                                                                        
paraphrasing from the following sponsor statement:                                                                              
     Early  education  is  imperative for  our  state.  When                                                                    
     examining Alaska's  long-term economy, it  is essential                                                                    
     to  consider   how  we  can  both   increase  Alaskan's                                                                    
     productivity  as   well  as  reduce   potential  drains                                                                    
     resulting   from  the   unrealized  potential   of  our                                                                    
     citizens. Early education is an  important part of that                                                                    
     The  markers  for success  develop  early  in life  and                                                                    
     brain science  underscores that how  we use  our brains                                                                    
     at   those  crucial   early  years   before  we   enter                                                                    
     Kindergarten   as  well as how prepared we  are when we                                                                    
     enter our  K   12  education have a dramatic  impact on                                                                    
     how well we will do  in school and life. In particular,                                                                    
     research shows us  that those who live  in poverty have                                                                    
     an incredibly  difficult time  catching up  with others                                                                    
     if  they   come  to  school  ill-prepared.   That  same                                                                    
     research  shows  that  those who  have  a  high-quality                                                                    
     preschool  experience  go  on to  future  academic  and                                                                    
     personal  success. Studies  reported in  national media                                                                    
     identified that  every dollar invested in  high quality                                                                    
     Pre-K  can  save  up  to  $7  in  long-term  government                                                                    
     expense by  reducing the  need for  remedial education,                                                                    
     and  involvement in  the  criminal  justice and  public                                                                    
     assistance systems.                                                                                                        
     High   quality   early   education  programs   are   an                                                                    
     investment  in our  future.  Universal early  education                                                                    
     available  to students  before they  enter kindergarten                                                                    
     improves  school readiness,  reading levels,  and long-                                                                    
     term economic  performance. Long  term studies  such as                                                                    
     the Perry Preschool project  also suggest students with                                                                    
     access to  high quality  pre-school are less  likely to                                                                    
     be incarcerated  and less likely to  receive government                                                                    
     assistance   as    adults.   Alaska's    current   pre-                                                                    
     kindergarten  programs    such as  those in  Anchorage,                                                                    
     Mat-Su, The Lower Kuskokwim School  District and Nome                                                                      
     and our early education  programs including Head Start,                                                                    
     Best  Beginnings,  and  Parents  as  Teachers,  provide                                                                    
     access  to   families  for  such  high   quality  early                                                                    
     education,  but are,  according  to  our Department  of                                                                    
     Education and Early  Development (DEED), only available                                                                    
     to 10% of Alaska's 4  year olds. SB6 would take lessons                                                                    
     learned  from those  programs  and  provide all  school                                                                    
     districts with the opportunity  to provide high quality                                                                    
     early education to their students if they so choose.                                                                       
     There is  much to  be said  about early  education, but                                                                    
     the  critical   piece  is   that  children's   pace  of                                                                    
     intellectual development  peaks before age  six, making                                                                    
     those  years especially  important for  future success.                                                                    
     School  outcome data  and academic  research show  that                                                                    
     children  who participate  in early  education programs                                                                    
     exceed  in  developing  soft   skills  tied  to  future                                                                    
     success   including  conscientiousness,   perseverance,                                                                    
     sociability, and curiosity. We  have seen those results                                                                    
     nationally,  but also  have that  data here  for Alaska                                                                    
     after over  ten years of demonstration  projects around                                                                    
     Pre- K  in our state.  The current  Teaching Strategies                                                                    
     GOLD assessment,  children in early  education programs                                                                    
     in Alaska  show dramatic growth even  comparing student                                                                    
     aptitude  changes between  the  Fall and  Spring    and                                                                    
     that is a  success we should all share. It  is time for                                                                    
     all Alaskans  to have an opportunity  to participate in                                                                    
     the  success  of   these  demonstration  efforts.  This                                                                    
     legislation provides that opportunity.                                                                                     
SENATOR  BEGICH said  that  for  the last  ten  years Alaska  has                                                               
experimented  with  evidence-based prekindergarten  programs  and                                                               
the data  shows dramatic  successes. The  Mat-Su data  shows that                                                               
special education Title  I students who are  participating in the                                                               
program are  overperforming the district average  in letter/sound                                                               
fluency and are nearly equal  in letter naming fluency. The Lower                                                               
Kuskokwim School District data shows  a difference in performance                                                               
by third  grade for students  who participated in  the district's                                                               
prekindergarten. The same goes for  the Anchorage and Nome school                                                               
districts.   Those   who   attended  prekindergarten,   Nome   in                                                               
particular, perform well above those  who did not attend. In each                                                               
of these  cases there  is measurable  achievement by  third grade                                                               
for those who went through the prekindergarten experience.                                                                      
SENATOR  BEGICH  said  SB  6  provides  opportunities  for  every                                                               
district to access  prekindergarten. It is not  mandatory, but it                                                               
is a  universal prekindergarten, meaning  at some point  it would                                                               
be  available  to every  district  in  the state.  Parents  would                                                               
always  control   the  ability   to  enroll  their   children  in                                                               
SENATOR  BEGICH  explained  that  the bill  implements  a  cohort                                                               
approach  to  limit the  impact  over  years  and to  ensure  the                                                               
districts are  provided necessary support from  the Department of                                                               
Education  and  Early  Development   to  develop  a  high-quality                                                               
prekindergarten program. He said a lot  of bills in the past have                                                               
said to just do prekindergarten,  but that is not sufficient. The                                                               
prekindergarten programs  around the country that  have not shown                                                               
success  received   either  no   support  from   their  education                                                               
departments or  did not have specific  parameters designed around                                                               
evidence.  He said  prekindergarten programs  must demonstrate  a                                                               
working program,  and he  has faith  that DEED  can do  that. The                                                               
department has  demonstrated this  over the  last decade,  and it                                                               
can do that through this bill for the rest of the state.                                                                        
He  said this  is  a  small investment.  The  state has  invested                                                               
intelligently in  oil and gas  royalties. The state  has invested                                                               
to build a  permanent fund. The state should do  the same kind of                                                               
investments for  its children. Early education  has the potential                                                               
to  create a  generation of  Alaskans  who are  prepared to  take                                                               
advantage of the opportunities of the 21st century.                                                                             
10:02:48 AM                                                                                                                   
JACOB  GERRISH,  Staff,  Senator  Scott  Kawasaki,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  Juneau, Alaska,  presented  the sectional  analysis                                                               
for SB 6 on behalf of the sponsors:                                                                                             
     Section 1.                                                                                                               
     Establishes that  elementary schools  also include  an early                                                               
     education program,  whether operated within a  public school                                                               
     or by an outside organization.                                                                                             
     Section 2.                                                                                                               
     Establishes  that a  four  or  five year  old,  who has  not                                                               
     attended  kindergarten,  is  eligible  to  attend  a  public                                                               
     school early education program.                                                                                            
     Section 3.                                                                                                               
     Creates  a  stair-step,  3-year  grant  program  to  provide                                                               
     training  and  assist a  school  district  in developing  an                                                               
     early education program. In year  one, the lowest performing                                                               
     20% of  school districts  (as established  in 2018)  will be                                                               
     eligible  for a  grant  to establish  a district-wide,  high                                                               
     quality  early  education program.  In  year  two, the  next                                                               
     lowest performing  20% of school districts  will be eligible                                                               
     for  the  three-year grant  program  to  establish an  early                                                               
     education  program.  At  the end  of  the  three-year  grant                                                               
     cycle,  the Department  of Education  and Early  Development                                                               
     (the Department) will be responsible  for determining if the                                                               
     district's  early  education  program  complies  with  state                                                               
     standards. The  next year,  the grants  be available  to the                                                               
     next  lowest  20%  of  school  districts  until  all  school                                                               
     districts are offered the opportunity to participate.                                                                      
     Section 4.                                                                                                               
     Directs  the Department  to  supervise  all early  education                                                               
     programs and approve those  early education programs created                                                               
     by the early education grant program.                                                                                      
     Section 5.                                                                                                               
     Defines an  "early education program" as  a pre-kindergarten                                                               
     school for  students 3-5 years  old if its  primary function                                                               
     is educational. The 3 year  old students are not included in                                                               
     the program this  bill proposes, but are  included to ensure                                                               
     they  are  not  excluded  from existing  State  and  Federal                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH said this clarifies that Head Start and other                                                                    
early education programs that might receive other types of                                                                      
federal funding are not excluded.                                                                                               
MR. GERRISH continued the sectional:                                                                                            
     Section 6.                                                                                                               
     Directs the board to adopt  regulations regarding funding as                                                               
     well as  statewide and  local goals  for an  early education                                                               
     program.  Regulations  shall  ensure  that  early  education                                                               
     programs  have the  flexibility to  be locally  designed and                                                               
     culturally  appropriate,   so  long   as  they   meet  early                                                               
     education  standards.  An  early education  program  may  be                                                               
     either full day (6 hour) or half day (at least 2 hours).                                                                   
     Section 7.                                                                                                               
     For funding  purposes, an early  education student  shall be                                                               
     counted in  the school  district's average  daily membership                                                               
     as a half  day student once the early  education program has                                                               
     been approved by the department.                                                                                           
     Section 8.                                                                                                               
     Adds early  education to  consideration for  determining the                                                               
     number of elementary schools in a district.                                                                                
     Section 9.                                                                                                               
     Ensures that early education  students who currently receive                                                               
     State  or  Federal  funding  for  early  education  are  not                                                               
     included in the ADM for purposes of funding.                                                                               
     Section 10.                                                                                                              
     Directs  early education  program  staff to  be included  in                                                               
     those  organizations required  to report  evidence of  child                                                               
     Section 11.                                                                                                              
     Repeals the early  education grant program in  10 years once                                                               
     all   school  districts   have   had   the  opportunity   to                                                               
CHAIR  STEVENS  asked  whether   half-day  students  qualify  for                                                               
exactly half of the average daily membership (ADM).                                                                             
SENATOR  BEGICH  answered  yes;  that   seemed  to  be  fair  and                                                               
10:07:45 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BIRCH  noted that Anchorage has  had declining enrollment                                                               
in  the  K-8 population.  He  asked  if  this  would add  to  the                                                               
enrollment  in  the  Anchorage   School  District  and  how  many                                                               
students and associated teaching positions would be involved.                                                                   
SENATOR BEGICH  replied that Anchorage  is in a  unique situation                                                               
because it  already operates a  form of prekindergarten.  What is                                                               
likely  is that  the school  district will  apply to  DEED to  be                                                               
certified as an  existing evidence-based prekindergarten program.                                                               
ASD  could  then potentially  roll  their  pre-K population  into                                                               
their ADM.  It would  offset their declines  to some  degree. The                                                               
pre-K  ADM would  be half  a student.  Statewide there  are about                                                               
10,000 in  the four-year-old cohort,  which would be  about 4,000                                                               
for  Anchorage.  ASD is  already  served  to  a great  degree  by                                                               
prekindergarten, so it probably would  not add a lot of teachers,                                                               
but it  would offset some decline  in funding that would  come to                                                               
Anchorage from the base student allocation.                                                                                     
He said the fiscal note is  substantial over time, but the fiscal                                                               
impact may  be minimal due  to the statewide  population decline.                                                               
He  highlighted  an advantage  of  this  bill  is that  it  could                                                               
immediately   support   districts    that   have   evidence-based                                                               
prekindergarten, and  it would take resources  to those districts                                                               
that  are some  of the  lowest performing  in the  United States.                                                               
That would be the first cohort.                                                                                                 
SENATOR BEGICH said he was  just informed that 847 four-year-olds                                                               
in Anchorage and 391 in Mat-Su are currently in pre-K.                                                                          
10:11:03 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR COSTELLO  asked how the department  would accommodate the                                                               
foundation formula  chart that counts students  in larger schools                                                               
as  less than  one  person  as the  multiplier  while in  certain                                                               
communities  one child  is counted  as up  to four  students. She                                                               
noted  that  the  fiscal  note  has  taken  the  full  state  aid                                                               
entitlement of $1.1  billion and divided it by  the average daily                                                               
membership  to come  up with  $9,260. That  number is  halved and                                                               
applied  for every  child in  the  pre-K system.  Once a  student                                                               
becomes  a  kindergartener in  a  remote,  rural community,  they                                                               
would  bump   up  to  four   individuals.  She  said   Sand  Lake                                                               
Elementary, which is  in her district, is  the largest elementary                                                               
school in the state and those  students would not even be counted                                                               
as one. She asked if he  has had a discussion with the department                                                               
about what this investment in schools would look like.                                                                          
SENATOR  BEGICH  said  he  would  defer  to  the  department  for                                                               
specific  details  but  nothing  changes  in  terms  of  a  child                                                               
entering school  as a  full time  ADM under  the current  law. It                                                               
just adds the  half-time ADM position. No nuance  is reflected in                                                               
the fiscal  notes. This prekindergarten  program is based  on the                                                               
Oklahoma model where  about 70 percent of kids  that are eligible                                                               
take  advantage of  the prekindergarten  program. Florida  is the                                                               
state with the highest percentage  at 77 percent. Washington D.C.                                                               
has a  slightly higher number.  DEED calculated the  fiscal notes                                                               
based on  88.45 percent  participation in  the pre-K  program. He                                                               
said he  hopes that is true,  but he suspects the  number will be                                                               
closer  to  70  percent.  He   said  the  fiscal  note  might  be                                                               
overrepresenting the cost, but he  was comfortable with it. It is                                                               
based strictly  on a  $4,630 average per  student cost,  half the                                                               
$9,260 average  student cost.  He deferred  to the  department to                                                               
respond   further  to   the  question   about  an   overcount  or                                                               
CHAIR STEVENS invited Ms. Gallanos to testify.                                                                                  
10:15:39 AM                                                                                                                   
ANJI  GALLANOS,  Director,  P-3 Office,  Colorado  Department  of                                                               
Education,  Denver, Colorado,  said she  previously directed  the                                                               
early  learning program  for the  Alaska Department  of Education                                                               
and Early  Development. She explained  that DEED's  approach when                                                               
funding district-based  pre-K programs  was to support  and build                                                               
capacity in order to ensure  coherent implementation of preschool                                                               
supports.  Districts that  received the  $2 million  state grants                                                               
for preschool  engaged in activities that  coordinated resources,                                                               
supported   quality  locally-designed   options,  and   developed                                                               
leadership  understanding of  learning in  the early  years. This                                                               
led  to  high-quality  district-led  preschool  initiatives.  The                                                               
Alaska preschool  program was informed by  implementation science                                                               
and  research  indicating  the   most  high-quality  drivers  for                                                               
preschool outcomes.  By supporting  districts, DEED  could ensure                                                               
that  sustainable preschool  programs were  being implemented  to                                                               
serve children in high-quality programs.                                                                                        
MS. GALLANOS  said that SB 6  is perhaps the best  way to sustain                                                               
the impact of attending preschool.  It is not an inoculation such                                                               
that  one year  of preschool  can  be expected  to achieve  great                                                               
outcomes,  but when  partnered within  a  district that  supports                                                               
quality  implementation,  the  effects   are  great.  The  Alaska                                                               
preschool program  saw these impacts directly  reported by school                                                               
districts.  While DEED  could  not report  outcomes  at a  child-                                                               
level,  districts  that  participated could  identify  and  track                                                               
outcomes by using  district assessments. District-based preschool                                                               
has been proven  to work well by districts  that have implemented                                                               
the program.  SB 6 creates  a structure that supports  and guides                                                               
districts to implement  a coherent preschool system  that plays a                                                               
part in  overall school achievement.  In addition to  meeting the                                                               
access needs to quality preschool  for four-year-old children, it                                                               
requires local  control over district preschool  programs because                                                               
Alaska district leaders  and community members know  the needs of                                                               
their communities.  She said she is  pleased to see the  call for                                                               
standards-based alignment and  accountability measures within the                                                               
bill to demonstrate impact.                                                                                                     
MS. GALLANOS said  that children most at risk  need effective and                                                               
timely  intervention  supports.  For example,  Colorado  provides                                                               
public  preschool  for  at-risk  children  who  meet  eligibility                                                               
criteria.  One  of  the  metrics  is  eligibility  for  free  and                                                               
reduced-cost  lunch.  In  Colorado  that is  24  percent  of  the                                                               
student  population.  In  Alaska   it  is  50  percent.  Colorado                                                               
legislated preschool slots  30 years ago for  at-risk children by                                                               
providing  funding to  school districts  to choose  how to  serve                                                               
three- and  four-year-old children. Colorado preschool  slots can                                                               
be used in school district  classrooms, childcare classrooms, and                                                               
Head  Start  classrooms.  Colorado   has  seen  the  tie  between                                                               
preschool  and  third  grade  outcomes.  Colorado's  more  recent                                                               
report  has  data that  demonstrates  that  children enrolled  in                                                               
Colorado  preschool  programs  show   strong  outcomes  in  later                                                               
grades.   Colorado's   data   shows  that   kindergarteners   who                                                               
participated in preschool were less  likely to be identified with                                                               
significant  reading deficiencies  than their  peers who  did not                                                               
participate.  Children  funded  through  the  Colorado  preschool                                                               
program were  less likely  to be retained  during K-3  than their                                                               
peers and more  likely to finish high school.  Every dollar saves                                                               
seven  dollars. This  has been  shown  to be  true through  meta-                                                               
analysis. The number  ranges from four to  nine dollars. Children                                                               
who attend preschool are referred  to special education less, are                                                               
less likely to need intervention,  and less likely to be retained                                                               
in third  grade. Colorado has  seen these outcomes. She  said she                                                               
supports  the  structure in  SB  6  because it  supports  quality                                                               
implementation  and  guidance needed  in  a  district to  support                                                               
coherent  preschool  systems that  have  goals  and outcomes  for                                                               
student achievement.                                                                                                            
SENATOR  BIRCH asked  whether  the dollars  follow  the child  to                                                               
whatever program  the child is  enrolled in and how  payments are                                                               
made for preschool.                                                                                                             
MS.  GALLANOS  replied that  the  Colorado  legislature passed  a                                                               
slot-based  system  in  which  slots   are  allocated  to  24,000                                                               
children. Slots, at  the discretion of districts, can  be used in                                                               
district-identified  preschool  programs   such  as  Head  Start,                                                               
childcare, or district programs.                                                                                                
SENATOR  BIRCH asked  if the  money  can be  expended in  private                                                               
programs outside of the school districts.                                                                                       
MS. GALLANOS answered  that in Colorado those slots  are given to                                                               
the school  districts, so school districts  choose which programs                                                               
within the district boundaries qualify.  A childcare program, for                                                               
example,  could apply  for  three slots  and  the district  would                                                               
determine whether the program met the criteria.                                                                                 
SENATOR  COSTELLO  directed attention  to  the  chart that  shows                                                               
different  results  among  programs and  district  averages.  She                                                               
asked  Ms. Gallanos  if she  had that  information from  Colorado                                                               
that she could share.                                                                                                           
MS. GALLANOS  replied that  Colorado does  not have  outcome data                                                               
for  Head  Start  or childcare  or  individually-funded  district                                                               
programs, but they have outcomes based on the 24,000 slots.                                                                     
SENATOR   COSTELLO  summarized   that   the  Colorado   education                                                               
department  approves  programs  to  get slots  but  doesn't  have                                                               
statistics comparing  the proficiency  of students why  have gone                                                               
through the Head Start program.                                                                                                 
MS.  GALLANOS answered  that Colorado  Head Start,  much like  in                                                               
Alaska,  is a  separate  federally funded  program  so the  state                                                               
doesn't have  a tracking  system to  measure four-year-old   Head                                                               
Start students  as they transition into  the kindergarten system.                                                               
Head Start as a federal program  is able to track growth outcomes                                                               
during  the year  but there  is no  way to  measure whether  that                                                               
child is meeting an outcome  at third grade because they attended                                                               
Head Start.                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  BEGICH  added that  Head  Start  does report  to  Alaska                                                               
because it  receives some state  funding. One of the  elements of                                                               
SB 6  that is different  than Colorado  is that it  has standards                                                               
that emphasize  locally-based programs.  Alaska DEED  worked with                                                               
school districts  within a  series of  standards. That  is unique                                                               
about this  bill and  what is  done in  Alaska compared  to other                                                               
states. Alaska  has such different  cultural and rural  vs. urban                                                               
aspects that the bill allows more flexibility than other states.                                                                
10:27:53 AM                                                                                                                   
APRIL  BLEVINS,  Early  Childhood  Coordinator,  Lower  Kuskokwim                                                               
School District, Bethel, Alaska,  stated that the Lower Kuskokwim                                                               
School District (LKSD) supports  state funding policies that will                                                               
ensure  that   Alaska  provides  access  to   high-quality  early                                                               
childhood education programs for  all children to increase school                                                               
readiness and to promote academic  and lifelong success. She said                                                               
sufficient  resources  must be  available  to  provide for  high-                                                               
quality  early childhood  education that  is free  of charge  and                                                               
accessible  to all.  Programs cannot  become  stable without  the                                                               
certainty  of  funding.  Children  in  the  LKSD  early  learning                                                               
programs  have  demonstrated  growth   between  fall  and  spring                                                               
assessments  in  cognitive  development,  language  and  literacy                                                               
skills, mathematics,  and fine and  gross motor skills.  The data                                                               
has shown  significant long-term benefits. Students  who attended                                                               
their  state-funded preschool  program  outperformed their  peers                                                               
who did not  attend a preschool program on third  and fifth grade                                                               
assessments.  Quality  preschool  programs  also  close  academic                                                               
gaps. She  said their  data shows  an average  LKSD four-year-old                                                               
enters preschool  with a receptive language  of a two-and-a-half-                                                               
year-old.  When  they  exit  the   preschool  program  and  enter                                                               
kindergarten, most have gained 1.5 years of language.                                                                           
MS. BLEVINS  said LKSD programs  provide other benefits  that are                                                               
not publicly  acknowledged. Most  of their programs  employ local                                                               
residents. If they  had no preschool, that would  create a domino                                                               
effect. If children cannot attend  preschool, then parents cannot                                                               
maintain  a job.  Therefore,  they must  rely  heavily on  public                                                               
assistance.  This  results  in   children  going  without  proper                                                               
nutrition,  which  the school  provides  twice  daily. All  these                                                               
factors   affect   a   community  economically,   socially,   and                                                               
MS.  BLEVINS  said that  early  intervention  in their  preschool                                                               
programs  have  led  to fewer  special  education  referrals  and                                                               
services   for   entering  kindergarteners.   Developmental   and                                                               
language delays  are lessened with preschool  interventions. LKSD                                                               
preschools provide  a safe, happy  environment in  which children                                                               
thrive. Young people who are  experiencing trauma receive support                                                               
services.  Their   programs  also  provide   medical  screenings,                                                               
support for  families, and information for  parents about various                                                               
types of services. Monthly parent  events offer parent education,                                                               
literacy materials,  and social interaction with  other families.                                                               
Families  value the  LKSD early  childhood education  programs as                                                               
advocates  for  children  and  their  families.  Early  childhood                                                               
programs   have   the   potential   for   prevention   and   cost                                                               
effectiveness.  In  the  past  two   decades  many  studies  have                                                               
demonstrated  the  positive  effects of  participation  in  early                                                               
intervention  for  school   readiness,  health  status,  academic                                                               
achievement,  grade retention,  and  special education  services.                                                               
Evidence  supports  delinquency   prevention  and  attainment  of                                                               
higher education,  yet every year their  early childhood programs                                                               
are on the list of budget  cuts. Research has shown that money is                                                               
best  spent  investing in  early  childhood  programs. For  every                                                               
dollar  spent  the  return  is  $7.16.  She  said  all  Alaskans,                                                               
especially rural communities, need and deserve pre-K funding.                                                                   
SENATOR   BIRCH   asked   what  the   percentage   of   preschool                                                               
participation is in her communities and the youngest age served.                                                                
MS.  BLEVINS  replied  that participation  and  attendance  range                                                               
between 80 and 91 percent.                                                                                                      
SENATOR  BIRCH  asked if  three-year-old  children  are in  their                                                               
MS.  BLEVINS  answered  that  four-year-olds  have  priority  for                                                               
enrollment but three-year-olds are  admitted if space allows. She                                                               
have a shorter day than the four-year-olds.                                                                                     
SENATOR  BEGICH clarified  that SB  6 focuses  on four-year-olds.                                                               
Three-year-olds are included in  the description because they are                                                               
included  in existing  programs like  Head Start.  In SB  6, only                                                               
four-year-olds and five-year-olds are eligible.                                                                                 
10:34:32 AM                                                                                                                   
ELWIN  BLACKWELL,  School  Finance Manager,  School  Finance  and                                                               
Facilities   Section,   Department   of   Education   and   Early                                                               
Development (DEED), Juneau, Alaska, said  he would review the two                                                               
fiscal  notes  affected  by the  addition  of  four-year-olds  to                                                               
foundation  funding. He  explained that  the fiscal  note dealing                                                               
with the  fund capitalization is  where the money needed  to make                                                               
the foundation program whole is  recorded. This fiscal note takes                                                               
the total  amount of projected  state aid  and divides it  by the                                                               
total number  of ADM to  come up with  the average cost  per ADM.                                                               
Since the  bill funds the  students at one-half of  that average,                                                               
$4,630 is  the estimated per  student cost. He  acknowledged that                                                               
some districts would get more from the foundation formula.                                                                      
MR.  BLACKWELL  explained that  there  will  be five  cohorts  of                                                               
students  going  through  the program.  The  first  cohort  would                                                               
transition into the  foundation formula in 2023.  The fiscal note                                                               
assumes  that all  programs  that were  developed  for the  first                                                               
cohort would  be approved  and transition  in at  the end  of the                                                               
three years. That  assumption is carried through for  each of the                                                               
five cohorts.                                                                                                                   
MR.  BLACKWELL said  $3.4  million  shows up  for  FY 2023.  That                                                               
number doubles to $6,806,100 in FY  2024. The $3 million is added                                                               
to FY 2025 and so on out to  2027 when the assumption is that all                                                               
five  programs would  be fully  transitioned into  the foundation                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH asked  how DEED came to the  assumption that pre-K                                                               
programs would serve about 89 percent of the students.                                                                          
10:38:39 AM                                                                                                                   
DEBORAH  RIDDLE, Division  Operations  Manager, Student  Learning                                                               
Division Department  of Education  and Early  Development (DEED),                                                               
Juneau, Alaska, explained that the  cohort of students every year                                                               
is about 10,000 per grade. They  looked at the number of students                                                               
participating in  preschool programs  and tried to  determine how                                                               
many were not  participating. The first year  they anticipate 735                                                               
students and  that would double the  next year. That is  how they                                                               
came up with 88 percent.                                                                                                        
SENATOR BEGICH said  the colored chart in the  packets shows that                                                               
the  annual cost,  once all  students  are included  in the  ADM,                                                               
would  be $17,015,250;  that would  be the  increase to  the base                                                               
student allocation.  He commented that  is well below  the number                                                               
that   might   be   spending  on   implementing   Medicaid   work                                                               
requirements, for example. That is  a fairly modest annual number                                                               
being added to the $1.2  or $1.3 billion base student allocation.                                                               
He asked if he were reading that correctly.                                                                                     
MR.  BLACKWELL said  that is  the  correct reading.  By FY  2027,                                                               
after  all  the  programs  had transitioned  in,  the  foundation                                                               
program would see an increase of $17 million.                                                                                   
SENATOR BEGICH  pointed out that  the opportunity to  prepare all                                                               
Alaska's  kids  is  one  or  two  percent  of  the  base  student                                                               
allocation number.                                                                                                              
SENATOR COSTELLO asked  Mr. Blackwell what the  multiplier is for                                                               
a  special education  student who  is  counted as  one under  the                                                               
foundation formula.                                                                                                             
MR.  BLACKWELL clarified  that she  was referring  to the  school                                                               
size adjustment.  He explained that with  the foundation formula,                                                               
they identify  the full-time equivalency students  to generate an                                                               
average  daily membership  (ADM) based  on a  20-day count.  If a                                                               
student  is  enrolled  for  the  full 20  days,  the  student  is                                                               
considered as  one ADM. Then an  adjustment is made based  on the                                                               
size  of  the  school  within  that  community.  For  very  small                                                               
schools,  it can  translate to  about  a 3.96,  almost four,  ADM                                                               
increase for  a very  small school  of between  10 and  19.9 ADM.                                                               
Each one of  those students gets weighted. A school  of about ten                                                               
students would get a weighting of  about four ADM. The bigger the                                                               
school, the smaller  the weighting. For a school  of about 1,000,                                                               
one  student is  one ADM  for the  school size  adjustment. Those                                                               
school size  adjustments are added  together and then  go through                                                               
the foundation  formula and are multiplied  by other multipliers,                                                               
such as the district cost factor.  Then there is a multiplier for                                                               
special  education  and a  multiplier  for  career and  technical                                                               
education.  Each intensive-needs  student  is  multiplied by  13.                                                               
That is  added to  the product of  previous calculations.  At the                                                               
end  DEED looks  at  correspondence schools.  Those students  are                                                               
multiplied by .9 and added to  the total. At that point they take                                                               
the adjusted ADM  and multiply it by the  base student allocation                                                               
and come up with the basic need number.                                                                                         
SENATOR  COSTELLO  noted  an  earlier  assertion  that  attending                                                               
preschool  programs  reduces  the numbers  of  special  education                                                               
students  in schools.  She recalled  that  the special  education                                                               
multiplier  was   20  percent   and  suggested  looking   at  the                                                               
contemplated  investment  of this  bill  vs.  what is  spent  for                                                               
special education.                                                                                                              
MR. BLACKWELL confirmed that the multiplier is 20 percent.                                                                      
10:45:30 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS  asked if  he was  reasonably comfortable  that the                                                               
existing foundation formula is reasonably fair across the state.                                                                
MR.  BLACKWELL  answered  that  the  current  foundation  formula                                                               
provides funding to school districts in a systematic way.                                                                       
SENATOR BEGICH said the legislature  answered that question quite                                                               
emphatically  with  the  Augenblick  study  [Review  of  Alaska's                                                               
School Funding Program prepared  for the Alaska State Legislature                                                               
by  Augenblick, Palaich  and Associates].  That  study looked  at                                                               
every component of the foundation  formula and the multipliers in                                                               
detail and  concluded that  it was  one of  the fairest  and most                                                               
equitable   foundation  formulas   in   the   country  with   two                                                               
exceptions. One  was something  about a  school count  issue that                                                               
the legislature fixed last year.                                                                                                
CHAIR STEVENS said that was his opinion as well.                                                                                
SENATOR BIRCH  asked if Anchorage  students are weighted  at less                                                               
than one.  He said  he heard from  the Anchorage  School District                                                               
that there is  a disincentive to consolidate  schools with school                                                               
funding.  If  they  have two  undercapacity  grade  schools,  for                                                               
example, there is a disincentive to consolidate and close one.                                                                  
MR.  BLACKWELL  replied that  for  school  size, there  would  be                                                               
instances  in Anchorage,  particularly  for the  very large  high                                                               
schools, where a  student may be weighted as less  than one after                                                               
going  through  the school  size  adjustment.  For example,  once                                                               
3,000  students in  a  school  are run  through  the school  size                                                               
adjustment, the count might be 2,600 ADM.                                                                                       
He emphasized  that those numbers were  off the top of  his head,                                                               
but that  is how the  formula and  school size works.  The school                                                               
size  adjustment table  assumes  that smaller  schools cost  more                                                               
money.  The idea  is that  larger schools  are more  efficient so                                                               
fewer resources are  needed to operate that school.  As a result,                                                               
those students are weighted less for funding purposes.                                                                          
SENATOR  BIRCH   commented  that  raises  some   questions  about                                                               
Anchorage having more  square feet than it needs  for the current                                                               
number of students.                                                                                                             
CHAIR  STEVENS said  school districts  statewide  are looking  at                                                               
consolidation  so   it  would  be   a  shame  if  there   were  a                                                               
disincentive to consolidate.                                                                                                    
MR.  BLACKWELL  noted  that  the   legislature  passed  a  school                                                               
consolidation bill last year that  provided a five-year step down                                                               
to remove  the disincentive. Districts that  consolidated schools                                                               
would see  no decrease the  first few  years and then  they would                                                               
step  down in  years three  through five  to absorb  the decrease                                                               
over time.                                                                                                                      
10:52:02 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  COSTELLO  recalled  that   bill  tried  to  address  the                                                               
embedded  economies  of scale  in  the  foundation formula  which                                                               
provides a  disincentive for schools  to combine.  The foundation                                                               
formula follows  a student  who moves from  a smaller  school for                                                               
five years. She said the fact  that the legislature had to remove                                                               
the disincentive  for consolidating  tells her that  that portion                                                               
of  the foundation  formula is  worth looking  at because  larger                                                               
schools are  able to  offer more  career and  technical education                                                               
than smaller schools. She said she  would go on record as someone                                                               
who is open  to discussion of the  foundation formula, regardless                                                               
of how difficult  and challenging that might be.  It is important                                                               
that legislators  are all on  board with how schools  are funded.                                                               
She  expressed appreciation  for the  earlier description  of the                                                               
CHAIR  STEVENS  responded  that  foundation  formula  is  clearly                                                               
something they committee can spend  time on trying to understand.                                                               
He asked Mr. Blackwell to continue reviewing the fiscal notes.                                                                  
MR.   BLACKWELL   said  the   second   fiscal   note,  which   is                                                               
informational  and  has  no  associated   cost,  deals  with  the                                                               
foundation program.  The fiscal  analysis explains that  there is                                                               
no fiscal  impact on  the foundation program  because of  the way                                                               
the foundation is funded through the public education fund.                                                                     
SENATOR BEGICH asked about the other fiscal notes.                                                                              
MS.  RIDDLE explained  that  one  fiscal note  is  for the  early                                                               
learning  coordination  that  proposes three  positions  and  the                                                               
associated costs  amounting to $350,000.  The second  fiscal note                                                               
is the  one that addresses  the number  of students and  how that                                                               
was calculated for the pre-K programs.                                                                                          
SENATOR BEGICH  said if all  potential students were  rolled into                                                               
the  foundation  formula without  any  preparation,  it would  be                                                               
about $17 million each year. He  said he likes the way the fiscal                                                               
note  shows  that  the  first   five  years  are  spent  building                                                               
capacity, to keep from creating bad  pre-K. That is the one thing                                                               
that must be done if this  is to mean anything. He emphasized the                                                               
importance of the  grants program to prepare districts  to do the                                                               
right  thing. It  addresses such  things as  turnover issues  and                                                               
high-quality teachers. He said he  appreciates that for less than                                                               
2 percent of  the current base student allocation  this will have                                                               
a  potentially  significant  impact  on  Alaska's  kids  as  they                                                               
graduate many years from now.                                                                                                   
10:57:34 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS  noted that  public testimony would  be taken  in a                                                               
subsequent hearing. [He held SB 6 in committee.]                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
01_SB06_PreKfunding_BillText_VersionM.PDF SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
02_SB06_PreKfunding_Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
03_SB06_PreKfunding_Sectional_VersionM.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
04_SB06_PreKfunding_FiscalNote01_DEED_Foundation.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
05_SB06_PreKfunding_FiscalNote02_DEED_EarlyLearning.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
06_SB06_PreKfunding_FiscalNote03_DEED_PreK_Grants.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
07_SB06_PreKfunding_FiscalNote04_Capitalization.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
08_SB06_PreKfunding_Research_DEED_ELP Report_FY18.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 6
SB030_MiddleColleges_BillText_VersionK.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 30
SB030_MiddleColleges_BillText_VersionK_markup.pdf SEDC 3/21/2019 9:00:00 AM
SB 30