Legislature(2021 - 2022)BUTROVICH 205

03/05/2021 09:00 AM Senate EDUCATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ "Alaska Academic Improvement & Modernization Act" TELECONFERENCED
<Pending Introduction & Referral>
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
Heard & Held
Uniform Rule 23 Waived
Heard & Held
Uniform Rule 23 Waived
           SB  58-FUNDING FOR CORRESPONDENCE PROGRAMS                                                                       
9:46:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR HOLLAND announced  the consideration of SENATE  BILL NO. 58                                                               
"An  Act relating  to funding  for  correspondence programs;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
He asked Commissioner Johnson to introduce the bill.                                                                            
9:46:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL  JOHNSON, Ph.D.,  Commissioner,  Department of  Education                                                               
and  Early  Development  (DEED),   Juneau,  Alaska,  said  Alaska                                                               
currently  offers a  multitude of  public  education options  for                                                               
families,  including   traditional  brick  and   mortar  schools,                                                               
correspondence  programs, and  charter, vocational,  alternative,                                                               
residential   schools.   Offering    this   educational   variety                                                               
recognizes  student learning  needs, creates  ways to  diversify,                                                               
enhances  the vibrancy  of communities,  and is  critical to  the                                                               
state's  economic future.  Currently,  the  state funds  students                                                               
differently  based on  how they  choose to  engage with  a public                                                               
school. Correspondence students  are funded at 90  percent of the                                                               
Base Student Allocation (BSA) without  going through the formula.                                                               
This means that under current  law, the district does not receive                                                               
the  full  value  of  an   Average  Daily  Membership  (ADM)  for                                                               
correspondence students,  nor the extra  funding that is  part of                                                               
the ADM multipliers,  such as funding for  special needs students                                                               
and  career  and technical  education  (CTE).  This school  year,                                                               
2020-2021,   the   state  saw   a   92.3   percent  increase   in                                                               
correspondence students  from the  previous year, largely  due to                                                               
the  pandemic, but  beyond that,  over the  last ten  years, from                                                               
FY11 to  FY20, correspondence students  counts have  increased at                                                               
an average rate of 3.6 percent every year.                                                                                      
9:49:44 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON said  some  students will  return to  their                                                               
neighborhood schools,  but a  significant number  may not  or may                                                               
take a couple of years to  do so. More likely, some families will                                                               
want to explore hybrid models  where students remain connected to                                                               
their neighborhood  schools and teachers yet  have flexibility in                                                               
scheduling, calendars, and content.                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said the bill has  three specific benefits.                                                               
One  is   that  it  provides   long-term  stability   for  school                                                               
districts.  The best  way  to stabilize  the  impact of  shifting                                                               
enrollment that  the state has  seen this year and  will probably                                                               
continue is  to recognize  that the cost  of educating  a student                                                               
remains no matter where a  student is enrolled. This conversation                                                               
started before  the pandemic as  students began  participating in                                                               
online  learning   and  remote  learning  in   the  last  decade.                                                               
Districts asked  about how  to count  a student  who took  one or                                                               
more classes  online but also  took courses at the  local school.                                                               
If students participate in a  class remotely, is that home school                                                               
or regular  school for funding. SB  58 moves in the  direction of                                                               
recognizing all students and the cost of their education.                                                                       
9:51:14 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON said the second  benefit is that it provides                                                               
flexibility and funds innovation  for educators. The formula uses                                                               
multipliers  to  reflect  the  cost  of  education.  The  typical                                                               
correspondence  students in  the past  are different  from today.                                                               
There is  no special ed  factor for correspondence  students, yet                                                               
more   and   more   special   needs   students   participate   in                                                               
correspondence. There is  no factor for vocational  ed, which has                                                               
a  growing  need for  using  distance  and remote  technology  to                                                               
expand opportunities for voc-ed.  The funding allows educators to                                                               
innovate outside  of the traditional  classroom walls.  The third                                                               
benefit  is flexibility.  This bill  gives opportunity  to school                                                               
districts  and   schools  without  correspondence   programs.  It                                                               
provides  enough funding  so that  district can  develop programs                                                               
based on the needs and desires  of families, even with only a few                                                               
correspondence  students. In  addition  to  those benefits,  this                                                               
provides  a pathway  for families  to remain  connected to  local                                                               
neighborhood  schools or  districts.  It will  take  a while  for                                                               
families to  sort out how  the pandemic has affected  their lives                                                               
and routines.  Families value their  local schools and  want them                                                               
to be  funded. This bill gives  them the assurance that  they can                                                               
remain  connected  to public  educators  and  schools while  also                                                               
adjusting  how they  remain connected.  It appears  that telework                                                               
and  other changes  in  societal routines  will  remain for  many                                                               
families.  That  will  likely result  in  families  wanting  more                                                               
options and  flexibility in education  routines and  funding that                                                               
supports those opportunities for schools and districts.                                                                         
9:54:08 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BEGICH  clarified that when  the commissioner  said there                                                               
has  been an  increase  of 3  percent  a year  in  the number  of                                                               
correspondence students, but that does  not mean an increase of 3                                                               
percent of the total student population.                                                                                        
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON responded  yes.  Director  Teshner has  the                                                               
exact  numbers.  Before  this  year,  about  10  percent  of  the                                                               
students in the state were  correspondence students, but that has                                                               
been steadily growing.                                                                                                          
SENATOR BEGICH  asked why the funding  was set at 90  percent. He                                                               
asked if  it was  because correspondence  schools do  not provide                                                               
some  of  the  services  provided within  the  schools,  such  as                                                               
counseling  services and  the  ability to  work  as readily  with                                                               
special ed  students. He  asked why that  changed, if  those were                                                               
the reasons.                                                                                                                    
9:55:56 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON said he not  sure what the rationale was. It                                                               
used to be 80 percent and  then the legislature increased that to                                                               
90 percent. In the past  a typical correspondence student got the                                                               
packet, did the assignments, and  put the coursework in the mail.                                                               
A typical correspondence  student 20 years ago  is very different                                                               
from  today  because  of  advances  in  technology,  advances  in                                                               
society  and the  economy. Correspondence  programs in  the state                                                               
are  exciting.  They  offer  all those  services  now  and  serve                                                               
students  with  all  needs,  not   just  students  who  are  high                                                               
achievers. Some  correspondence schools are serving  students who                                                               
didn't  do  well  in   traditional  schools.  The  correspondence                                                               
programs serve those students with  counseling and extra academic                                                               
support  and  connections  to  the  local  school  district.  The                                                               
conversation  to  increase  funding  started  several  years  ago                                                               
because  correspondence schools  are  now offering  many, if  not                                                               
all, of the same services as traditional schools.                                                                               
SENATOR BEGICH  said that  answer is what  he perceived  as true.                                                               
The  commissioner  mentioned  it  will   only  affect  32  of  54                                                               
districts. He is  wondering if the other 22  school districts are                                                               
mostly  rural or  semiurban  or  urban. He  asked  how the  state                                                               
addresses those districts so as not to create more inequity.                                                                    
9:58:47 AM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON replied  that  he doesn't  have  a list  of                                                               
which districts don't have  programs. This incentivizes districts                                                               
because  any district  can have  a correspondence  program if  it                                                               
wants. Funding correspondence  students at 90 percent  of the BSA                                                               
without going through the formula  makes it financially difficult                                                               
for districts  to start  a program  for a few  students in  a way                                                               
that will  attract families, especially like  the large programs.                                                               
This bill  provides districts the  incentive and  opportunity and                                                               
resources to  develop their own  programs and connect  with local                                                               
families that may  be considering the hybrid  model of engagement                                                               
with  local  schools.   Even  if  a  district   had  10  students                                                               
initially, it would be enough  funding to develop the program and                                                               
be innovative and enhance the existing programs.                                                                                
10:00:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES  said  she is  aware  of  current  correspondence                                                               
programs   because  Mat-Su   Central  School,   a  correspondence                                                               
program, is  the largest  school in  the Mat-Su  district. Mat-Su                                                               
Central shares space with a  Legislative Information Office. That                                                               
is a busy  parking spot with families coming and  going. It might                                                               
be helpful for the committee to  perhaps hear from a school about                                                               
different  services.  She doesn't  know  if  they have  a  school                                                               
nurse, organized field trips, access  to libraries, etc. It would                                                               
be helpful to understand how  correspondence schools have evolved                                                               
and what they offer because it  is a growing trend. She has heard                                                               
from  some families  who plan  to  continue with  that after  the                                                               
pandemic because it  did work for their  children. Other families                                                               
are eager  to have their  back children back  in brick-and-mortar                                                               
schools. The committee needs to  understand what the programs are                                                               
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  responded  that Mat-Su  Central  Principal                                                               
John Brown would be fantastic to  have in front of the committee.                                                               
He has suggested some programs to  hear from to the chair. Mat-Su                                                               
Central has a  library, a study area, counseling,  and many other                                                               
services  in  the   facility.  That  is  great   example  of  how                                                               
correspondence programs  have evolved  because parents  want some                                                               
of  those  expanded  opportunities,   but  they  want  to  remain                                                               
connected to public educators in  their public schools. Principal                                                               
John  Brown   would  be   a  fantastic   person  to   share  that                                                               
10:03:17 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR MICCICHE  asked whether home  school is 1.9  students per                                                               
ADM vs. the .9 for correspondence students.                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON answered that  sometimes home school is used                                                               
and  sometimes  correspondence,  but  they are  the  same  thing.                                                               
Correspondence  or homeschool  students are  .9 of  the BSA.  The                                                               
terms are used interchangeably and a better term is needed.                                                                     
SENATOR MICCICHE said  he must have misunderstood  that they were                                                               
double counted.                                                                                                                 
CHAIR HOLLAND said  that is if districts lose 5  percent of their                                                               
recruitment  and get  75 percent  because of  hold harmless  that                                                               
winds  up being  about  1.6  for the  first  year.  That is  what                                                               
Senator Micciche may be thinking of.                                                                                            
SENATOR HUGHES said that within  a district, during the pandemic,                                                               
if a  student moves  from a brick-and-mortar  school and  goes to                                                               
correspondence, the  districts are asking  that they get  paid as                                                               
though the  child was in  a brick-and-mortar school and  also get                                                               
the .9, so it is the 1 plus the .9.                                                                                             
CHAIR HOLLAND  commented that with hold  harmless, attendance has                                                               
to drop five percent for that to kick in.                                                                                       
10:05:40 AM                                                                                                                   
HIEDI   TESHNER,   Director,   Finance  and   Support   Services,                                                               
Department  of Education  and Early  Development (DEED),  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, presented the sectional analysis:                                                                                       
     Section 1  amends AS  14.17.410(b)(1)(C), the  public school                                                               
     funding, by moving the correspondence  student ADM up in the                                                               
     foundation  formula  after  the district  cost  factors  and                                                               
     before the  special needs and technical  instruction funding                                                               
     multipliers. Section 1  further amends AS 14.17.410(b)(1)(D)                                                               
     by removing the correspondence  student calculation from the                                                               
     end of the formula adjustments when determining basic need.                                                                
     Section  2  amends  AS  14.17.430,  the  state  funding  for                                                               
     correspondence study, by removing  the 90 percent factor for                                                               
     a  correspondence  student  and   clarifying  that  the  new                                                               
     funding   allocation  for   a   correspondence  program   is                                                               
     calculated  by using  the ADM  report as  recorded under  AS                                                               
     14.17.410(b)(1)(C),  essentially  counting a  correspondence                                                               
     student as a full ADM.                                                                                                     
     Section 3  establishes the effective  date of July  1, 2021,                                                               
     the start of FY2022.                                                                                                       
10:07:45 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. TESHNER  said the  committee has  three documents.  The first                                                               
document is  labeled Foundation Funding  Formula. The  first page                                                               
shows the  steps of  the current  funding formula  as set  out in                                                               
statute. The page shows the  factors and the statewide totals for                                                               
projected  FY22 for  each of  the  elements in  the formula.  The                                                               
correspondence ADM  is applied at  the end of the  formula, right                                                               
before   determining   the    district-adjusted   ADM.   As   the                                                               
commissioner  noted, based  on current  law a  district does  not                                                               
receive the full  value of a correspondence student  or the extra                                                               
funding  formula   factors  for  special  needs   and  vocational                                                               
10:09:02 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  TESHNER said  page two  of that  documents shows  the change                                                               
under SB 58.  The green box shows where  correspondence would lie                                                               
in the  formula. There  are two  changes to  correspondence under                                                               
this bill.  The first  is that a  correspondence student  will be                                                               
one  full ADM,  not 90  percent, and  the ADM  for correspondence                                                               
students  would be  included in  the formula  after the  district                                                               
cost  factors   and  before   the  special   education,  vocation                                                               
education, and special education intensives factors are applied.                                                                
MS.  TESHNER said  that through  SB 58  more financial  resources                                                               
would be available to school districts  to help cover the cost of                                                               
provide special ed services to  correspondence students and would                                                               
provide  more resources  so  that  correspondence students  would                                                               
have a larger allotment to  pursue career and technical education                                                               
opportunities.  Since  the  proposed change  would  provide  more                                                               
financial resources  to districts, it  could be assumed  that the                                                               
allotment provided to students for  their education should go up,                                                               
affording students more educational options and opportunities.                                                                  
10:10:54 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES observed  that the document shows  a difference of                                                               
$35  million. She  asked if  that is  the estimated  cost to  the                                                               
state for FY22 if SB 58 were to pass.                                                                                           
MS. TESHNER answered  yes; it is about a $35  million cost to the                                                               
state under the proposed legislation.                                                                                           
10:11:25 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH  commented that  this  represents  a $35  million                                                               
state investment in enhanced correspondence  to meet the needs of                                                               
students.  He  noted that  the  committee  has  had a  number  of                                                               
conversations about  SB 42 and  SB 8, bills that  enhance reading                                                               
and prekindergarten. Those bills at  best, over time, would offer                                                               
an additional  $17 million to  the formula funding. If  the state                                                               
is going  to invest  $35 million,  and he  is supportive  of full                                                               
count for correspondence programs, the  state should make sure it                                                               
gets a  return on  its investment.  If the state  is going  to do                                                               
this level  of investment, then  it absolutely should do  a level                                                               
of investment  in prekindergarten  and the  reading opportunities                                                               
to ensure  that the state  is not  just throwing $35  million out                                                               
into the  wind. It is important  to make sure the  $35 million is                                                               
an investment  in education because  it has  been backed up  by a                                                               
strong reading  program and a strong  prekindergarten program. He                                                               
asked if  his numbers are  right, and  if she believes  that will                                                               
make a difference in educating children in Alaska.                                                                              
10:13:20 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  TESHNER  stated that  those  two  numbers are  correct;  $35                                                               
million under SB 58 and $17.1 million under SB 42 or SB 8.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON  said  that  regarding a  return  on  money                                                               
invested, the  evidence is that money  invested in correspondence                                                               
programs  have a  great return.  Those students  compare well  to                                                               
students in  brick-and-mortar schools.  The administration  has a                                                               
high degree of  confidence that the return will be  great and the                                                               
state will  see innovation.  The pandemic has  had an  impact and                                                               
will  continue to  have an  impact. The  bills the  committee are                                                               
considering,  reading bills,  virtual education,  this bill,  all                                                               
can  work well  in tandem  to shape  the public  education system                                                               
coming out  of the  pandemic and  into the future  in a  way that                                                               
meets families' needs.                                                                                                          
10:14:52 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES  asked if  there  is  any  chance of  using  some                                                               
federal COVID  funds for the  $35 million  if this were  to pass,                                                               
given that  correspondence picked up  during the pandemic  and it                                                               
is not totally eradicated.                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said that federal money  comes in different                                                               
buckets.  The largest  bucket goes  directly to  school districts                                                               
with  wide discretion  about how  to  use the  money. They  could                                                               
choose  to use  it that  way. The  department cannot  direct them                                                               
about how to  use the funds. Other buckets include  the set aside                                                               
that goes  to the  department. He looks  forward to  working with                                                               
the  committee on  how to  move the  education bills  forward and                                                               
possibly using those funds with  other projects the department is                                                               
working  on.  That  is  a  yes,  it is  possible,  but  it  is  a                                                               
conversation to have with the committee.                                                                                        
CHAIR HOLLAND  asked if  DEED cannot direct  the funds,  is there                                                               
any control over  the districts to ensure this money  would go to                                                               
correspondence schools.                                                                                                         
10:17:04 AM                                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER  JOHNSON replied  that  funding amount  is based  on                                                               
student counts  and locally elected school  boards allocate that.                                                               
A  brick-and-mortar  school,  based  on its  student  count,  may                                                               
generate  more  funding  than  it spends  and  the  school  board                                                               
decides how  to allocate  that funding  around the  district. The                                                               
school board may  choose to have a more expensive  program at one                                                               
school  and also  balance out  the money  between elementary  and                                                               
high school. There  is not a way  to say the money  could only go                                                               
to the school  that generates it based on the  count, but that is                                                               
usually how school districts allocate the money.                                                                                
10:18:28 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH  said  that  is  a  wonderful  clarification  for                                                               
Senator  Hughes;  the  bill  in  the  U.S.  Senate  today  has  a                                                               
substantial  amount  of  money  for  summer  and  other  remedial                                                               
programming  for education  directly,  billions  of dollars,  and                                                               
thanks to  the state's Senate  delegation, there is  an increased                                                               
amount of  flexibility for  small-population states,  including a                                                               
substantial amount  of money for  broadband and other  issue like                                                               
that.  There should  be  a  lot more  resources  coming into  the                                                               
state.  For the  last  few years,  the  legislature has  provided                                                               
money outside  of the  BSA, $20  or $30 million  or even  more to                                                               
schools. These  various concepts, whether  correspondence schools                                                               
or prekindergarten  or the reading  program, actually  target the                                                               
money  instead of  just  tossing it  out  there. A  comprehensive                                                               
package is here,  combined with those federal  resources as well,                                                               
that could be useful for all of them.                                                                                           
COMMISSIONER JOHNSON  said that he  will work with  the committee                                                               
on funding sources.                                                                                                             
10:20:08 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HOLLAND held SB 58 in committee.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB58 - Senate Education Hearing Request 1.29.21.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 58
SB94 - Senate Education Hearing Request 03.01.21.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 94
SB 94 Support Letter from UA State Director Hutchison.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 94
SB 94 3.5.21 (S) EDC Presentation.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 94
SB 94 - Charter College - Letter of Support 3.2.21.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 94
SB58 - Correspondence Programs as of 12.2020.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 58
SB58 CorrespondenceADM&CostHistoryFY12-FY22Proj - Legal Size.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 58
SB58 FY2022 Foundation Funding Program.pdf SEDC 3/5/2021 9:00:00 AM
SB 58