Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/03/2000 09:01 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
     SENATE BILL NO. 198                                                                                                        
     "An Act increasing the base student allocation                                                                             
     component of the public school funding formula; and                                                                        
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
Senator  Wilken   as  sponsor  gave  an   overview  of  this                                                                    
legislation.  He  noted that this bill  simply provided that                                                                    
an additional fifty  dollars be added to  the student dollar                                                                    
for  K-12  foundation formula.    He  pointed out  that  the                                                                    
foundation formula puts  a demand on state  resources in the                                                                    
amount of $19.96 million dollars  less than the year before.                                                                    
He noted that this legislation  recognizes that part of this                                                                    
money, if  not all of it,  is education.  He  continued that                                                                    
this  $19.96  million  is generated  by  three  things:  the                                                                    
first,  Alaska  has  fewer  students,  federal  monies  have                                                                    
increased since  last year, and  through the efforts  in the                                                                    
last  decade of  this legislature  and others,  the assessed                                                                    
value  of Alaska  continues  to grow.    He summarized  that                                                                    
these  three aspects  contributed  to a  $20 million  dollar                                                                    
reduction to the  state's resources.  He felt  as though the                                                                    
increase in funding outlined in  SB 198 would provide relief                                                                    
to various communities.                                                                                                         
MALCOLM FLEMING, Principal Seward  High School testified via                                                                    
teleconference  from  Seward.    He  pointed  out  how  this                                                                    
district is slated  to loose three regular  teachers and one                                                                    
special education teacher due  to falling enrollments, along                                                                    
with the effects of budget cuts.   He added that if they had                                                                    
been able to  use the funding formula from 1996  - 1997, the                                                                    
district would  presently have four more  teachers on staff.                                                                    
He outlined  the additional effects  budget cuts  would have                                                                    
on the Seward school district.                                                                                                  
ROYCE   CHAPMAN,  Fairbanks   School  Board   testified  via                                                                    
teleconference from Fairbanks.   He noted that the Fairbanks                                                                    
district is faced  with a $4 million-dollar  gap in funding.                                                                    
He declared  that the  district made up  $3 million  of this                                                                    
deficit through cuts to administrative  areas, which did not                                                                    
have  a direct  affect  on  student programs.    He gave  an                                                                    
overview  of   other  such  efforts,   including  shortfalls                                                                    
anticipated in the future.                                                                                                      
CYNTHIA HENRY,  President, Fairbanks School  Board testified                                                                    
via  teleconference from  Fairbanks.   She  stated that  the                                                                    
board recently  held two public  hearings and heard  from 80                                                                    
citizens regarding  the Fairbanks school budget.   She noted                                                                    
that every participant requested  the reinstatement of those                                                                    
programs  already  cut because  of  budget  shortages.   She                                                                    
explained that the district  would eventually ease subsidies                                                                    
to their charter  school contingents.  She  spoke to loosing                                                                    
children from the district due to program cuts.                                                                                 
Tape: SFC - 00 #46, Side A, 10:36 AM                                                                                            
CARTER   CRAWFORD,   testified   via   teleconference   from                                                                    
Fairbanks.  She stated her  support for SB 198 and education                                                                    
generally  as a  high priority.   She  added that  education                                                                    
should not  be considered  an expense just  because it  is a                                                                    
budget item.  She countered  that drops in enrollment should                                                                    
be  an  opportunity  for   districts  to  increase  Alaska's                                                                    
commitment to existing students.                                                                                                
PATRICK  HICKEY  testified  via teleconference  from  Kenai.                                                                    
He noted that  Kenai's property taxes have  increased to the                                                                    
point where the state should  realize a reduction of revenue                                                                    
at  $781,000 next  year.   He  stated his  support for  this                                                                    
Catherine  DeLacee,  President,  Soldotna  Elementary  Sight                                                                    
Council,  testified  via  teleconference from  Kenai.    She                                                                    
stated   that   the   Council  unanimously   supports   this                                                                    
legislation.  She stated that  the local school there had to                                                                    
"pink  slip"  four  teachers recently  and  she  noted  that                                                                    
teachers have had  to pay for supplies out  of their pockets                                                                    
for the last three years.                                                                                                       
SCOT  WHEAT  testified  via teleconference  from  Homer  and                                                                    
voiced his support for this legislation.                                                                                        
RICK HARNESS  testified via teleconference  from Homer.   He                                                                    
stated his support of the previous testimony.                                                                                   
DEBBIE  COOK testified  via  teleconference from  Fairbanks.                                                                    
She stated  wholeheartedly her support for  this legislation                                                                    
in face of budget shortfalls.   She felt as though education                                                                    
of Alaskan children should be its highest priority.                                                                             
CARL ROSE, Executive Director,  Association of Alaska School                                                                    
Boards  stated  that the  state  has  been  on the  move  to                                                                    
improve the quality  of education in Alaska.   He noted that                                                                    
the  intent of  previous legislation  namely, SB  36 was  to                                                                    
inject $26 million  into the education system.   He asserted                                                                    
that this legislation was to  offset enrollment declines and                                                                    
increased  property  values  as   a  local  contribution  to                                                                    
education.   He stated  that his organization  supports this                                                                    
legislation  because the  weight  of money  generated by  it                                                                    
will go towards the children directly.                                                                                          
VERNON   MARSHALL,   Executive   Director,   NEA   (National                                                                    
Education Association)  Alaska stated that  his organization                                                                    
supports   the  $50   increase  as   allowed  for   by  this                                                                    
legislation.  He added that  the NEA would gladly support an                                                                    
amendment to  raise the basic  student allocation  to $4,040                                                                    
in an  effort to restore  the $19.17 million  as recommended                                                                    
by the governor.   He noted that this money  would go a long                                                                    
way to preparing students for the  2002 exit exams.  He also                                                                    
stated  a concern  with the  quality  schools initiative  as                                                                    
presented in SB 244.  He  pointed out that this effort would                                                                    
require additional  personnel, materials  and training.   He                                                                    
outlined  the specific  related cost  ramifications of  this                                                                    
initiative as well.                                                                                                             

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